Tavares continues torrid pace, leads Leafs to 4-2 victory over the Devils

Lucas Viveiros | Report

While oddly wearing their blue jersey’s on the road for 80’s night in New Jersey, the Toronto Maple Leafs put together a 4-2 victory over the Devils on Thursday night. 

Zach Hyman returned to the lineup for the Buds, playing in his first game since the last time the Leafs were in New Jersey on December 18th due to a high ankle injury.

Hyman surly made his presence felt doing what he does best, which is forcing the opposition to make decisions a lot quicker then they would like.

His tenacious spirit and effort is in large part why the Maple Leafs scored the first goal in this game, as after a chip in chase play between Hyman and Brown, Hyman gathered the puck and spotted the veteran Ron Hainsey at the blue-line. All while during some four-on-four hockey, Hainsey had all the time in the world to slap home a beautifully placed shot, off the post and in, beating Kinkaid and putting Toronto up 1-0 four and half minutes into the game.

Under three minutes later, Toronto would be hunting for more, as after a quick point shot from Jake Gardiner, John Tavares would corral the puck, put it on his backhand and slide the shot home for his 300th career NHL goal, putting his team out front 2-0 early on.

Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson was playing in his fourth consecutive start, and early on he looked dialled it, keeping the Devils at bay throughout the first period.

With under 15 second remaining in the first period, the Maple Leafs would have the magic for one more quick strike, as after Marner took control of the biscuit he spotted Rielly with a perfect backhand sauce, who out waited Kinkaid and dished off the pass to Tavares, smacking it home into the empty net. Toronto would take that 3-0 lead into the middle period.

A pretty toned down second would see both teams struggle to generate many A+ chances,  but New Jersey would strike quickly, scoring back-to-back goals, and trimming the lead to 3-2.

First, Blake Coleman would set a new career high with his 14th of the season, being left all alone in front to beat Hutchinson on a rebound.

Then, just 26 seconds later, the Devils would storm into the attacking zone, as Blake Pietila would leave a drop pass for former Maple Leaf Brian Boyle, who then would snipe one over the glove of Hutchinson and cut the lead to one heading into the final period.

Toronto would control the majority of play in the third, forcing the Devils to play in their own end and not generate any attacking chances, keeping the score unchanged.

The Maple Leafs would add an empty netter courtesy Mitch Marner with 21.6 seconds to play, and they would take the victory 4-2.

Revisit the game’s highlights below.

Up next, Toronto will aim to pick up two points on Saturday against division rival Boston, and further look to distance themselves from the Bruins for second spot in The Atlantic Division.

Game time is set for 7:00pm from Scotiabank Arena, and can be watched on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

More news from the ice

  • William Nylander skated in his 200th NHL game
  • With John Tavares’ 300th and 301st career tallies, he now sits third in the NHL in goals since the 2009-2010 season, only trailing Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin
  • Tavares is on pace for 55 goals this season, which would surpass the current record for goals scored by a Maple Leaf in one season (54 by Rick Vaive in 1981-1982)
  • Travis Dermott left the game after being hit from behind, but did return

Out of town scoreboard

Thursday, January 10

Washington 4 Boston 2

NY Islanders 4 NY Rangers 3

Dallas 1 Philadelphia 2

Nashville 3 Columbus 4 (OT)

Carolina 1 Tampa Bay 3

Montreal 1 St. Louis 4

Winnipeg 2 Minnesota 3

Florida 3 Edmonton 4 (SO)

Arizona 4 Vancouver 3 (OT)

San Jose 3 Vegas 2

Ottawa 4 Los Angeles 1

More coverage to follow. Image from Maple Leafs Hot Stove.

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