Lupul Hat Trick Leads Leafs Over Devils 5-3

In a contest that made Brodeur look ready for retirement, the Leafs beat the Devils 5-3. Call-up Joey Crabb carried his hot streak from the AHL to the N, as he opened the scoring with a nice cycle low in the zone (pulling in two Devils defenders at the same time), then standing beside the net to bat a puck out of the air and into the netting. Gardiner reminded us why he gets compliments on more than just his skating - some nice vision and passing ability came to the forefront when he made a great slap pass to Grabbo, who put it away. From there on out, it was the Joffrey Lupul show: A slapper on Mike Komisarek's rebound; a short side shot that deflects off a Devil's stick and in; and finally a couple of swings in front of the net to hammer home the hat trick goal. The even strength offense was on fire.

Jonas Gustavsson stopped 19 of 22 for a save percentage of 86.4%, and I think he had a good night overall, with the exception of taking a terrible interference penalty (which led to the Devils' first goal). He played the puck more tonight than I can remember him doing in any other game, which actually earned him an assist on the Grabovski goal.

Komisarek was a +3, had a slap shot turn into an assist, and saw 21:48 TOI, his highest since November 22, 2010. It was a good game for him. Lombardi took a couple of rough checks and blocked a strong shot early in the game, but played through without issue. I'd just like to take a second to revisit and enjoy the Brett Lebda's Buyout trade once again. Oh yeah, that's the stuff.

Lupul, Connolly, and Kessel saw just 15:47, 16:09, and 17:55 each. MGK saw 16:23, 15:31, and 15:25 TOI, respectively. Phaneuf and Gunnarsson saw under 24 minutes. The Leafs' top players didn't get leaned on hard this game, as the bottom two lines saw roughly 15 and 11 minutes each, and Liles clocked 23 minutes as well. Between the Leafs' depth and the lead cushioned in by Lupul's goals, Wilson may have managed to keep the team well rested going in to tomorrow, the second game of this back-to-back.

The game wasn't without a couple of issues, though. The PP went 0-for-2 tonight (to make it 17% on the season, 16th in the league), the PK went 0-for-2 to make it a league worst 69.4%, and the defense allowed a startling number of odd-man chances. All of these caused the Leafs problems, as the three goals against Toronto were a breakaway and two PPGs. The Leafs' PK needs to get better.

Playing on his twenty second birthday, Schenn saw just 10:01 of ice time. He started off with a strong hit and a nice shot, but was caught flat footed in the second and gave New Jersey's David Clarkson a breakaway goal. Schenn saw limited ice time after that, getting just 6 shifts in the second half of the game. If Franson is in tomorrow, there's a good chance Luke is the one giving up a spot.

But the Leafs limited the Devils to just 5 shots in the third. The Leafs got two points and moved to second in the east. It was a good night. 

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