Leafs down Devils on Engvall’s short-handed winner

TORONTO – Pierre Engvall scored short-handed with 4:42 left in regulation as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Wednesday night.

The winger moved in on a 2-on-1 rush with Ilya Mikheyev off serving a double minor for high-sticking, delayed and then fired his 11th goal of the season short side on Nico Daws.

Mikheyev, also with the Leafs playing short-handed, and Mitch Marner provided the rest of the offence for Toronto (40-18-5), which got 20 saves from Petr Mrazek.

Nico Hischier, with a goal and an assist, and Damon Severson replied for New Jersey (24-35-5). Daws stopped 28 shots.

Leafs defenceman Mark Giordano debuted for his hometown team following Sunday’s trade that brought the 38-year-old and forward Colin Blackwell over from the Seattle Kraken.

Giordano played on the third pair with Timothy Liljegren, while Blackwell skated on the fourth line with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds.

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Toronto sported the team’s black Next Gen uniform Wednesday — a look created in collaboration with Canadian pop star and big-time Leafs fan Justin Bieber.

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The Devils, who beat the New York Rangers 7-4 on Tuesday, opened the scoring following a low-event first period at 5:03 of the second on a power play when Severson’s pass to Jack Hughes at the side of the net glanced off a sliding Ilya Lyubushkin and through Mrazek’s pads for the defenceman’s ninth.

Coming off Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Predators in Nashville, the Leafs evened things up short-handed at 12:30 when Mikheyev blew past P.K. Subban and beat Daws for his 13th.

The visitors retook the lead at 13:56 shortly after an Auston Matthews penalty expired when Hischier poked a loose puck home in the crease.

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But Toronto responded 58 seconds later when Marner took a pass from Matthews and blasted a one-timer past Daws, who also played Tuesday against the Rangers, to set a new career-high with his 27th of the campaign. Matthews also tied a career-best with his 80th point of the season on the setup.

The teams picked up the physical play in the third period as both Lyubushkin and Blackwell tried to throw their weight around, while Michael McLeod did the same for New Jersey, which entered 27th in the NHL’s overall standings.

The Devils got great a chance with 7:37 left in regulation when Mikheyev was assessed that double minor for high-sticking Andreas Johnsson, but Mrazek was there to deny Hughes on a nice rush early in the man advantage before Engvall won it.

Mrazek got his first start since the March 13 outdoor Heritage Classic in Hamilton after clearing waivers Monday.

A massive disappointment since signing a three-year, US$11.4-million contract in the summer, his last Scotiabank Arena start prior to Wednesday was a disastrous March 10 performance against the Arizona Coyotes when he allowed four goals on 12 shots before being pulled in favour of rookie Erik Kallgren.

Jack Campbell, the Leafs’ No. 1 crease option, hasn’t played since March 8 as he works his way back from a rib injury.

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Notes: Toronto’s Next Gen uniform is the first reversible sweater in North American pro sports and 15th alternate set of threads in club history. … Bieber watched the game from a private suite.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2022.

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© 2022 The Canadian Press

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