The Leafs began this game by screwing things up early. At just 17:07 in the first, Brooks Laich came streaking down the wing and into a dangerous scoring chance, ranging the puck off both posts, before Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau buried the rebound.
Andrew Campbell was caught standing still handling the puck with his head down in the Leafs' zone and got drilled by Steven Santini. On the replay, it appeared that the initial point of contact may have been Campbell's head, and so Santini was sent off for roughing. The Leafs did nothing with the power play - fortunately.
William Nylander tried to get the Leafs back on track by taking a hooking penalty 7:09 into the period, but although the Devils tested Garret Sparks on two good chances, he came up big.
Then, at roughly at the halfway mark of the first period, the Leafs lost a faceoff in their defensive zone and Parenteau failed to tie up Devante Smith-Pelley, who chipped a weak shot through Sparks to restore the tie game. Phew.
Reassuringly, as the period wore on, the Devils began to take further control of the game. Patrik Elias was brought down in front of the Leafs' net, supposedly by Morgan Rielly, and though I thought it was a bad call, I was happy to take it.
Colin Greening also spent some time in the box towards the end of the first, giving the Devils as four separate power plays in the opening 20 minutes. They generated another solid chance or two, but in the end, couldn't give the Leafs any further help towards getting Auston Matthews.
At the 1/3 mark of the game, the Devils lead the Leafs 19-5 in shots.
The Leafs announced before the start of the second period that Campbell would not return to the game after the hit from Santini, and that they were calling it an "upper body injury".
At this point, there's no point in risking any further damage to a player's brain for the sake of a meaningless game.
It took exactly 59 seconds into the second period for the Devils to take a 2-1 lead. Although the Leafs were able to kill off the remainder of the penalty to Greening, the Devils picked up a goal on a rebound that went off the leg and then chest of Adam Henrique. Mike Babcock challenged the play, but the refs upheld the call on the ice, and the Leafs lost their timeout.
The Leafs began to push back more and more as the period wore on (GET OUT OF HERE, SCORE EFFECTS) but were unable to find an equalizer. Thank Dog.
By the halfway mark of the second, Henrique had scored his second of the game on a broken play. After a great breakout pass and rush, the Leafs managed to get a stick or two on the play before the puck bounced directly to Henrique as he continued to head towards the net. Sparks did his job and let this one in.
The Leafs took a series of penalties through the second half of the second period and killed any momentum the team had generated.
Leafs 20 minutes from clinching 30th overall. Full marks for the stink tonight. pic.twitter.com/MT7nPYqFfe— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 10, 2016
The shots after 40 minutes were 27-15 in favour of the Devils.
The Leafs had a few good looks at the net through the third period, but outside of a couple of good rushes by Jake Gardiner, the Leafs didn't do much. I sort of tuned out for most of it, because hey, why bother? The Devils wound up scoring an empty-netter to make it 4-1 and seal last place in the NHL for the Leafs.
To cap things off, Martin Marincin made an idiotic defensive giveaway and gifted Elias a goal when Sparks had returned to the net, but hey, who cares?
AUSTON MATTHEWS. LET'S GO.