Game 19 Live Game Thread: Versteeg Goal Extends Maple Leafs Lead To 3-1 In The Third Period

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Kris Versteeg’s powerplay goal at 13:17 of the third period extended the Maple Leafs lead to 3-1 in the third period of tonight’s game at the Air Canada Centre.

With Matt Corrente in the box for hooking, the Maple Leafs set up inside the Devils zone. Nazem Kari found the right-winger alone in the right faceoff dot, and Versteeg one-timed the puck past Hedberg’s shoulder for his fifth goal of the season.

Johan Hedberg will begin the third period in net. Martin Brodeur looked like he tweaked something in his elbow after colliding with John Mitchell while making a save. In his last relief appearance, Hedberg stopped 21 shots in the Devils’ 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on November 3.

Toronto has outshot the Devils, 20-18, through two periods. The Devils will have 46 seconds of powerplay time left on the cross-checking minor to Luke Schenn.

That isn’t a recipe for success, however. The Devils’ powerplay is a hapless 1-for-35 on the road.

Martin Brodeur held the score at 2-1 with a diving save on Mitchell. After a turnover along the side boards, Mitchell broke in on net. He tried to cut across the front for a stuff attempt, but Brodeur went down to the ice and knocked the puck off of Mitchell’s stick.

Dainius Zubrus’ goal at 10:14 of the second period cut the Maple Leafs lead to 2-1. 

Ilya Kovalchuk began the play, holding the puck at the blue line. The left-winger found Alexander Vasyunov along the end boards with a pass, and the rookie threw the puck toward the front of the net. Zubrus crashed the net and swiped at the puck, missing with his stick. The puck deflected off of the center’s skate and past Jonas Gustavsson for his second goal of the season.

Phil Kessel’s goal at 7:29 of the second period extended the Maple Leafs lead to 2-0.

Kadri held the puck at the right point, and sent a pass through the Devils defense to Kessel down in the bottom of the left circle. Kessel, who was left alone, took the puck and fired it by Brodeur for his ninth goal of the season.

That was a complete defensive breakdown by the Devils, who all followed the puck instead of sticking with their assignments.

Mikhail Grabovski’s powerplay goal at 1:42 of the second period put the Maple Leafs ahead, 1-0.

With Brian Rolston in the box for hooking, Clarke McArthur sent a pass from his defensive zone to Nikolai Kulemin at center ice. The forward carried it on the wing and fired a shot on Brodeur. The Devils goalie left a rebound in the slot, and no Devil could reach the puck. Grabovski crashed the slot and fired a shot through a screen and into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year.

The Maple Leafs outshot the Devils, 9-6, in the first period. Many of those nine shots were great scoring chances, and Brodeur needed to be sharp against the Toronto scorers.

Kessel hit the post on a shot attempt during the Maple Leafs’ first powerplay opportunity. With Anton Volchenkov in the box for hooking, Kessel carried the puck along the side boards. He fired a shot on net that beat Brodeur low. The puck caromed off the post and back into the Devils’ defensive zone.

Brodeur made a great save on a loose puck in the crease to keep the game scoreless at the ten minute mark of the first period. Kessel fired a one-timer on net, and Brodeur blocked the attempt with his pad. The puck skipped over the equipment, but the Devils goalie corralled the puck with his stick and put his glove on top of it to freeze play.

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Here were tonight’s starters:

DEVILS

Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Colin White – Matt Corrente; Martin Brodeur

MAPLE LEAFS

Clark McArthur - Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin; Luke Schenn-Tomas Kaberle; Jonas Gustavsson

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The New Jersey Devils head to Toronto to face off against the Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

The Devils and Maple Leafs both sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. New Jersey sits in 14th place, while Toronto sits in the 13th position.

This is the second game of a three game swing for the Devils. The team lost to the Boston Bruins, 3-0, on Monday night. They wrap up their trip Saturday in St. Louis.

Martin Brodeur will start his third straight game for the Devils. Last season, Brodeur didn’t start any of the games in Toronto. Jonas Gustavsson gets the start for the Maple Leafs, replacing injured goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Here were the line combinations during pre-game warmups:

forwards
Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson
Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

defenseman
Colin White – Henrik Tallinder
Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov
Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente

netminder
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg 

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