LEAFS CRUSH DEVILS

Bot­tom-six­ers come up big as Maple Leafs crush Devils at Sco­tia­bank Arena:

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - LANCE HORNBY Maple Leafs

At least one Maple Leaf won’t want to re­move his Hall of Fame Game crest from his sweater af­ter Fri­day night.

Snake-bit­ten winger An­dreas Johns­son scored his first of the year, per­haps chan­nel­ing some en­ergy from the Hall hon­our guard and six new in­ductees at Sco­tia­bank Arena in a 6-1 Toronto shel­lack­ing of the New Jersey Devils.

Johns­son joined his more con­sis­tent third-line pals, Con­nor Brown and Par Lind­holm, in a four-point night, pro­vid­ing the elu­sive sec­ondary scor­ing coach Mike Bab­cock has sought since Aus­ton Matthews was hurt and Toronto be­gan sput­ter­ing with home of­fence. The Leafs have won two in a row on Bay St., for the first time this sea­son, though now it’s back on the road for a week.

“That was prob­a­bly the most chances I’ve had in a game,” said a re­lieved Johns­son, who had missed a break­away right be­fore his mid­dle-pe­riod goal made it 4-1. It orig­i­nated with a Jake Gar­diner shot that hit a Devil and bounced off goalie Keith Kinkaid right to Johns­son for some over­due puck luck.

For head coach Mike Bab­cock, Johns­son’s was prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant of the six goals, that ranged from John Tavares’ ninth, Brown’s sec­ond in as many games, a Mor­gan Rielly blue­line floater and a steal from

fourth-liner Tyler En­nis.

“Good for (Johns­son),” Bab­cock said of the AHL play­off MVP. “He skated, drove the mid­dle hard and was re­warded. He seems to be get­ting more rhythm in his game. That line was good again (Lind­holm win­ning nine of 13 face­offs).”

Fred­erik An­der­sen’s 38 saves com­pen­sated for any de­fen­sive lapses as he tied

Tampa Bay’s An­drei Vasilevskiy for nine wins atop the NHL goalies board.

“The first pe­riod was great, we lim­ited their chances to barely any,” said An­der­sen, his save per­cent­age im­prov­ing to .933 and his place in fran­chise wins now 12th over­all with his 80th vic­tory.

Bab­cock was elated that his goalie and the team as a

whole were not taxed be­fore fly­ing to Bos­ton for what should be an in­tense game against last year’s play­off foes.

Patrick Mar­leau col­lected his 600th NHL as­sist on Nazem Kadri’s goal when the lat­ter bounced a pass that was one-timed, sur­pris­ing Kinkaid.

“Maybe it helped that it was wob­bly (when Kadri re­leased),” Mar­leau said.

Rielly’s was the evening’s third straight un­usual goal, a quick flick while the Leafs were on a line change with Kinkaid barely mov­ing. Rielly joined Thomas Chabot and Brett Burns in the 20-point club at the top of league’s de­fence­men. Al­most 50 goals have got­ten past Jersey’s goalies al­ready this sea­son.

En­nis, who said ear­lier in the day that new Hall mem­ber Mar­tin St. Louis was his favourite player as a fel­low Munchkin, scored the sixth goal.

Toronto’s only let­down was due to a sloppy break­out by Kadri in the sec­ond pe­riod, com­ing out from be­hind the Leafs goal and get­ting stripped by Blake Cole­man, with Travis Za­jac get­ting the goal.

One of Matthews’ ob­ser­va­tions about the NHL has been that it does not out­wardly seem to pro­mote the in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties of its play­ers as in other ma­jor sports.

“We do that,” in­sisted com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman at Fri­day af­ter­noon’s Hockey Hall Of Fame ring cer­e­mony. “A lot of the fact that play­ers might not get enough at­ten­tion or pro­mo­tion is that it’s their na­ture. Aus­ton is one of the younger play­ers, he’s more adept at so­cial me­dia and I think he’s will­ing to be out there a lit­tle more.

“His­tor­i­cally, the cul­ture of the game didn’t nec­es­sar­ily en­cour­age it, as much we tried to and will con­tinue to do.”

SPEAK EASY

An­der­sen senses he’s be­ing leaned upon a lot more by the Leafs this sea­son — and not just for the .929 save per­cent­age he brought into Fri­day’s game.

He’s still a soft-talker around the me­dia, but don’t be fooled.

“I’m a pretty in­tro­verted guy,” An­der­sen said be­fore Fri­day’s game. “The bet­ter I get to know guys, the more open I’ll be and be jok­ing around a bit more.

”We’re tak­ing steps per­son­ally with a dif­fer­ent lead­er­ship role. Just giv­ing the guys a chance to win is ob­vi­ously most im­por­tant.”

But if An­der­sen has been more vo­cal, Bab­cock hasn’t heard him.

“You lead by do­ing, not by what you say,” de­clared the coach. “You lead by con­di­tion­ing, by your prepa­ra­tion in the sum­mer by con­tin­u­ing to try and get bet­ter, how you go about your craft and how you re­spond when things go wrong.

“In the end, we’re all mea­sured by team suc­cess and the sec­ond sea­son. But it’s harder to get there than in years back. You have to be ready ev­ery day and he’s done a good job of that.”

FUN AND GAMES

Rielly, who was the al­ter­nate cap­tain rep­re­sent­ing the Leafs at Fri­day night’s pre-game cen­tre ice face­off with the six new Hall of Famers, went to the Yonge St. shrine as a kid and a few times since.

“(At first), you tend to play the in­ter­ac­tive games. I played some goal in the sim­u­la­tor. I was not good. As you get older, you have a dif­fer­ent ap­pre­ci­a­tion for it. You read the plaques.”

Rielly showed he was a lit­tle new at this cer­e­mo­nial face­off busi­ness, keep­ing the puck af­ter­wards, be­fore re­mem­ber­ing to hand the sou­venir to Jayna Hef­ford.

BYE BYE BAY ST.

Af­ter Fri­day’s game, the Leafs headed out on the road for a full week, with an emo­tional re­turn to Bos­ton on Sat­ur­day be­fore three games in Cal­i­for­nia. But the play­ers knew bet­ter than to look past a non-sexy op­po­nent such as New

Jersey, which might have been a con­cern for Bab­cock a few years ago.

“In this league, as soon as you look past some­one, they just thump you and you don’t touch the puck,” Bab­cock said. “I think we’ve got that les­son a cou­ple of times this year al­ready. I feel we’ve pressed more at home and haven’t been as loose. We had a good first pe­riod and a good third (on Tues­day against Ve­gas), I think we’d like to build off that mo­men­tum and get go­ing at home.”

LOOSE LEAFS

Josh Leivo reached 16 games last night, hav­ing yet to miss a start, match­ing his to­tal in 2017-18. He also had one goal through 16 last sea­son ... An­other touch­ing Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony by the Leafs, who in­vited Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans on to the ice and pro­jected pop­pies on the ice dur­ing a mo­ment of si­lence

... Joe Bowen, hon­oured dur­ing game for win­ning the Hall’s Foster He­witt Award for broad­cast­ing, once worked in the his­toric gon­dola at Maple Leaf Gar­dens for a Sud­bury sta­tion, call­ing OHL games. “The cat­walk out there was as scary as they say. Once you got in the gon­dola, it was so small, with two cane-back chairs, many phone wires to plug in and only about three feet for two peo­ple to sit. But, man, what a view!” ... Win­ner of the Elmer Fer­gu­son Award and go­ing into the writ­ers’ wing is Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Leafs’ Zach Hy­man gets knocked off-bal­ance by Brett Seney of the Devils dur­ing a scram­ble in front of the New Jersey net last night.

JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN

Leafs goalie Fred­erik An­der­sen steers clear of the traf­fic as team­mate Patrick Mar­leau jos­tles with Devils for­ward Mar­cus Jo­hans­son dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod last night at Sco­tia­bank Arena.

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