Maple Leafs shame Devils

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - SPORTS - LANCE HORNBY

A few su­per­sti­tious Maple Leafs won’t want to re­move those Hall of Fame Game crests from their sweaters af­ter Fri­day night.

Cer­tainly not the snake-bit­ten An­dreas Johns­son, who scored his first of the year in front of a le­gion of Hall mem­bers 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 head 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, just in time to go on the road un­til Nov. 19.

The pesky Devils came as ad­ver­tised, skat­ing hard and de­ter­mined to out-work Toronto, forc­ing 11 give­aways in the first pe­riod. But the key this night was the Leafs re­pay­ing them in kind and tight­en­ing up through 40 min­utes. Fred­erik An­der­sen’s 38 saves com­pen­sated for any de­fen­sive lapses as he tied Tampa Bay’s An­drei Vasilevskiy for nine wins atop the NHL goalie board.

Just like Tues­day against Las Ve­gas, the night they ended five straight games with­out scor­ing in the first two pe­ri­ods, there were no short­age of op­por­tu­ni­ties in 15 first­pe­riod shots, but only one counted. Af­ter Patrick Mar­leau couldn’t get a clean poke at an empty net power play feed, the de­fence pair of Mor­gan Rielly and Ron Hain­sey worked it to John Tavares, who had an­other open side.

Toronto didn’t re­lent when the next stanza be­gan, with Nazam Kadri tak­ing Mar­leau’s bounc­ing pass and one tim­ing it high on Keith Kinkaid. It was Mar­leau’s 600th NHL point. Then came Ron Hain­sey’s sec­ond sharp look­ing as­sist, cross-ice to Lind­holm and back to Brown for the lat­ter’s sec­ond in as many games.

Johns­son with two more good looks go­ing to waste, in­clud­ing a break­away, be­fore fi­nally picked up his first goal in 11 starts. Jake Gar­diner’s shot hit a Devil and bounced off Kinkaid right to the Swede. Rielly then com­pletely de­mor­al­ized the Devils with a one­time floater from the blue­line, while only try­ing to pro­tect a Leaf line change. Kinkaid hardly moved on the shot, or a po­ten­tial sev­enth goal that was waved off by a high stick. As it is, al­most 50 goals have got past Jersey’s goalies this sea­son.

Rielly, mean­while, joined Thomas Chabot and Brett Burns in the 20-point club at the top of league’s de­fence­men.

Fourth liner Tyler En­nis, who said ear­lier in the day that new Hall of Famer Mar­tin St. Louis was his favourite player as a fel­low Munchkin, scored the sixth goal with him in the house.

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

Toronto, now with a record of 11-5 and sec­ond in the At­lantic to the Light­ning, heads to Bos­ton for Sat­ur­day’s game with Gar­ret Sparks set to give An­der­sen a rest be­fore Toronto then crosses the con­ti­nent for three in Cal­i­for­nia. The Leafs are a per­fect 6-0-0 on the road.

North­ern Ex­po­sure

One of Aus­ton 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.”

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