TORONTO, Ontario – New Jersey forward and Toronto native David Clackson’s return home last night was not as pleasant as he would have liked.
Clarkson played in his 400th career NHL game last night as a lack luster performance left New Jersey scratching their heads again, falling to Toronto 4-2.
In goal last night, for New Jersey was veteran backup Johan Hedberg whose confidence has clearly been shaken after giving up 17 goals in his first five starts.
At 9:26 into the first Nazem Kadri earned his 22nd point of the year and drew first blood for the Leafs on a spin around shot that seemed to have eyes of its own. The puck gently floated across the red-line between Hedberg’s legs as if it was being steered from somewhere inside the Air Canada Centre. The remainder of the period ended rather quiet with shots in favor of the visiting Devils 8-5 with one score for the Leafs.
Play picked up in the second as Marek Zidlicky scored at 14:16 coming off the face off and moving down into the left slot ringing the puck off the far post beating James Reimer. Reimer had a sold showing last night coming off a knee injury suffered against Philly early in February. Last night was Reimer’s second game back and showing good lateral movement between the pipes.
Later in the period Zidlicky would score again on a nice driving play and assist from Ryan Carter that beat Reimer on the high glove side giving New Jersey the 2-1 edge entering the third. That was the 6th time in Zidlicky’s career having 2 goals and first as a Devil.
Unfortunately he would remain hat-trick-less as the Leafs took over the remainder of the game.
The third period was opened by assistant captain Jay McClement beating Hedberg to tie the game at 2 just 20 seconds into play. The second came on another silly slow motion puck from Clarke MacArthur that was once again steered through Hedberg’s legs like an RC car. The last and final goal sealing the win for Toronto came off a beautiful 2 on 1 pass from former Flyer James Van Riemsdyk to the 25-year old Phil Kessel.
With plenty of blame to be passed around the locker room, the Devils have tried to rally around one another and not let one person become the pitfall for the team’s recent woes. Hedberg would be the easiest target who alone took the blame on himself. New Jersey played well enough to win but couldn’t get it done. They now look forward to playing tonight at home against Tampa as their second game in a 7-day 5 game stretch.