Maple Leafs top Devils in OT, extend winning streak to six
Nylander wins it at 2:38 of OT; Mikheyev at hospital after injury
William Nylander scored with 2:22 remaining in overtime, and the Toronto Maple Leafs extended their season-long winning streak to six games with a 5-4 victory against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.
Nylander lost control of the puck in front to Devils defenseman Damon Severson, who inadvertently chipped the puck past Mackenzie Blackwood.
“It was a harmless play, but I put it completely, accidently, into the goalie and obviously he was not expecting it on the play,” Severson said. “I was just trying to protect the puck and then get it out of harm’s way. I just hit it by accident into our own net.”
John Tavares had a goal and two assists, and Michael Hutchinson made 24 saves for the Maple Leafs (21-14-4), who have won eight of their past nine games.
Rookie forward Ilya Mikheyev, who scored his fourth goal in his past six games in the first period, left at 9:20 of the third period and was transported to a local hospital after he was cut on his right wrist by the skate blade of Devils center Jack Hughes.
“The only update is he’s at the hospital and has a deep cut. … We’ll have to get it sorted out, but he’s going to stay in New Jersey tonight,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He’ll get evaluated and we’ll have to figure out what needs to be done.”
Said Tavares, “First and foremost, we’re thinking about [Mikheyev]. It was obviously scary, seeing that much blood. He’s a guy we care deeply about and was having a great night, playing tremendous for us, so thoughts are with him.”
Linemates Kyle Palmieri, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt each had a goal and two assists, and Blackwood made 32 saves for the Devils (12-19-6), who are 1-2-1 in their past four games.
Tavares scored a power-play goal when he redirected Nylander’s pass the right post to tie it 4-4 at 8:15 of the third period.
“It wasn’t pretty overall, but we just kept staying with it,” Tavares said. “I think we know over the last couple of games that we’ve got to tighten up at times. At the same time, I think we’ve controlled play a lot and generated offense. We just have to be smarter with the puck at times and understand teams are trying to really sit on those counterattacks when we sustain a lot of possession. We’ve got to be aware of teams going the other way.”
They said it
“Our attention to detail and systems have been really good (during the streak). We’ve controlled the puck a lot, have had some really good shifts in the offensive zone creating good scoring chances and making the other team’s goalie have to really make some good saves to keep their team in it. The guys are getting more comfortable within the systems and putting together longer stretches each game where we control the puck and the tempo of the game a lot more.” — Maple Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson
“It’s a player trying to do the right thing with the puck in an area where it’s not dangerous and it just came off of his stick wrong. Is it frustrating to lose that way? Yes, but we can’t fault the player. He’s trying to do the right thing. I guarantee you [Severson] is not trying to put the puck in the back of our net. It was just an unfortunate bounce.” — Devils coach Alain Nasreddine
Need to know
Nylander also had two assists. … Mitchell Marner led the Maple Leafs in ice time at 24:41 but had his eight-game point streak end. … Hyman has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past three games. … Devils center Pavel Zacha was a late scratch because of a lower-body injury and was replaced by Kevin Rooney, who had one takeaway in 10:17 of ice time.
Maple Leafs: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN1, SNO, SNW, SNP, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Devils: At the Ottawa Senators on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, MSG, NHL.TV)
Won the back-and-forth battle.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 28, 2019
The Leafs are suddenly tied for fifth in the NHL in ROW (regulation + OT wins). Hard to believe.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) December 28, 2019