|TOR||2||1||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|NJD||1||0||2||(0 - 0)||3|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Jean-Sebastien Aubin always thought he'd get back to the NHL.
Aubin finally got his opportunity Sunday night and he responded with 36 saves to help the Toronto Maple Leafs kept pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
"I knew I would get one more chance somewhere if I kept working hard," said Aubin, who spent most of the season in the minor leagues. "It was big. I was really pumped after the final whistle."
Chad Kilger, Kyle Wellwood, Mats Sundin and Matt Stajan had goals for the Maple Leafs, who bounced back from consecutive blowout losses to the Montreal Canadiens in which they were outscored 11-3.
Toronto is in 10th place, seven points behind Montreal and New Jersey who are tied for seventh and currently occupy the final two playoff positions in the East. Ninth-place Atlanta is three points off the pace.
The Devils have lost four of five.
But the focus was on Aubin and his triumphant return from the minors.
He set the tone early in the first period, making a glove stop on Zach Parise. The puck landed behind Aubin, who swatted it away before it crossed the line.
"We all remember that he had a very successful time with Pittsburgh," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "He really saved our bacon at the end."
Toronto dominated the first period, outshooting New Jersey 17-10 while building a 2-1 lead on goals by Kilger and Wellwood.
Kilger opened the scoring at 8:34 on a great individual effort. He picked up the puck deep in the Toronto end and eluded defenseman Brian Rafalski in the neutral zone to send a pass ahead to Darcy Tucker. Kilger kept driving forward to take a return feed that he sent past Brodeur.
Rasmussen pulled the Devils even with a power-play goal, aided by a lucky carom at 17:42. Sergei Brylin fired a shot wide of the net that bounced off the back boards and came right to Rasmussen, who stuffed the puck into the wide-open left side.
Wellwood put Toronto back in front 54 seconds later. Brodeur tried to clear a puck from the slot but wound up nudging it to Wellwood. He slipped past Devils defenseman David Hale to flip a shot into the cage.
The first period set the pattern for the Devils.
"It seemed from the start we were all looking around, waiting for something to happen instead of initiating, which is what we'd done well previously," Rasmussen said. "It took us too long to get out of it. We all know what's at stake. There is no excuse for coming out the way we did."
In the second, Sundin scored at 15:53 to extend the Toronto lead to 3-1. Sundin used Devils defenseman Colin White as a screen to unload a shot that handcuffed Brodeur.
Brodeur made the outlet pass in the third period that set up Gomez' goal at 2:24. Gomez picked up the pass in center ice and fed Brian Gionta who fired a slap shot on Aubin. Gomez pounced on the rebound to cut the Maple Leafs' lead to 3-2.
Stajan scored at 11:48 to restore Toronto's two-goal advantage.
Toronto jeopardized the win by taking three penalties in final 4:48. Elias scored a 5-on-3 power play at 16:23 and the Devils pressed hard for the equalizer. Aubin made challenging stops on Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner, and Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle swept away a goal-bound puck from the crease.
New Jersey outshot Toronto 18-6 in the third period.
"We did everything you could ask in the last three minutes to win the game," Devils coach Lou Lamoriello said. "We put ourselves in a position we shouldn't have been in at that time."
Notes: Aubin had last won on April 2, 2004, with Pittsburgh. He signed with Toronto as an unrestricted free agent over the summer and spent most of the season with the Toronto Marlies (AHL). He was recalled on March 14. ... Mikael Tellqvist had started eight straight games in goal for the Maple Leafs. ... The Devils were 2-for-5 on the power play to improve to 7-for-14 in their last three games. ... The Maple Leafs swept the four-game season series from the Devils.
|Chad Kilger Slapshot - ASST: Darcy Tucker|
1 - 0 TOR
|PPG - Erik Rasmussen Slapshot - ASST: Zach Parise , Sergei Brylin|
1 - 1 Tie
|Kyle Wellwood Wrist shot - ASST: Darcy Tucker|
2 - 1 TOR
|Mats Sundin Slapshot - ASST: Ian White , Alexei Ponikarovsky|
3 - 1 TOR
|Scott Gomez Slapshot - ASST: Brian Gionta , Martin Brodeur|
3 - 2 TOR
|Matt Stajan Slapshot - ASST: Aki Berg|
4 - 2 TOR
|PPG - Patrik Elias Wrist shot - ASST: Scott Gomez , Brian Rafalski|
4 - 3 TOR
|Darcy Tucker Hooking against Sergei Brylin|
|Tomas Kaberle Interference against Grant Marshall|
|Nik Antropov Interference against Grant Marshall|
|Brian Gionta Roughing against Tomas Kaberle|
|Tomas Kaberle Roughing against Brian Gionta|
|Ian White Hooking against Jamie Langenbrunner|
|Luke Richardson Boarding against Zach Parise|
|SA: 38||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 35||EV: 26 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 9 - 11|
|SV%: .921||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 30||TOI: 58:44|
|Saves: 26||EV: 25 - 29|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: .867||SH: 1 - 1|