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Brian Gionta scores shootout winner as Devils beat Maple Leafs 7-6

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Brian Gionta led the Devils' comeback by scoring three times in the third period to tie the game 6-6, the game-tying goal coming with 37 seconds to play. Gionta also scored in the shootout which the Devils won 2-1 in four rounds.

John Madden scored twice in regulation and Sergei Brylin once as New Jersey overcame a five-goal second period by the Maple Leafs, which tied the record for most against the Devils at home.

Matt Stajan scored twice and Jeff O'Neill, Chad Kilger, Darcy Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky each had one goal for Toronto, which led 6-3 entering the third period.

Stajan gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the shootout, then Brodeur stopped Mats Sundin, Tucker and Ponikarovsky.

Gionta scored on the Devils' second shot against Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Madden won it on the fourth with a goal that had to be reviewed, but it was clearly in.

Gionta, who set a team-record with 48 goals last season, started the comeback with two power-play goals. His first came on a deflection of a shot by Brian Rafalski at 6:29. The second was from in close with 5:41 left in regulation and the third came with Brodeur off for an extra skater. Scott Gomez had assists on the last two.

The hat trick was the first of Gionta's career and it showed why the Devils gave him a three-year, US$12 million contract just days before the season.

The Maple Leafs' five-goal second period was started by two goals by Stajan. Kilger, Tucker and Ponikarovsky also scored in the opening 14:48 as New Jersey fans made derisive cheers every time Brodeur touched the puck.

The five goals allowed in the period matched Brodeur's career worst, which came on Nov. 14, 1998 in a third-period onslaught by the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Brodeur, who moved into third place past Terry Sawchuk with his 448th win, was a victim of some bad play on his part, a couple of bad bounces and two great shots.

Stajan got Toronto going by banking in a shot off a prone Brodeur from almost behind the goal line at 1:13 for a 2-1 lead.

After Madden tied with his second of the game at 3:30, Stajan needed only 20 seconds to have his slapshot deflect off a stick past Brodeur.

Less than a minute later, Kilger came out from behind the net to tuck the rebound of a shot by Michael Peca under Brodeur for a 4-2 lead. Tucker pushed the lead to 5-3 when his shot from the faceoff circle deflected off Brylin's skate past Brodeur.

Ponikarovsky got the fifth goal with a bomb from between the circles at 14:38.

Notes: The Devils have asked D Scott Lachance to continue his tryout with Lowell of the AHL. RW Nathan Perrott, who also had a tryout, was released on Thursday. ... With D Pavel Kubina expected to be sidelined at least a month with a knee injury, Jay Harrison played defence for Toronto.


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