Danis kept this Mikhail Grabovski shot out of the net.
As dominant as the Devils have been at the Rock, they continue to search for answers on the road.
Looking to snap a three-game skid away from home, they received a goal from David Clarkson, but finished 0-for-4 on the power play in a 2-1 shootout loss at Toronto on Thursday.
New Jersey squandered a 25-save performance by Yann Danis, who allowed only Phil Kessel’s tally through 60 minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime.
Toronto scored on all three of its shootout attempts, courtesy of Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and John Mitchell. Zach Parise beat J.S. Giguere on the Devils’ first attempt to tie the shootout, 1-1, after Kessel had beaten Danis. Giguere, who made 24 saves, foiled Patrik Elias’s try for the five-hole. Mitchell’s backhand deke around Danis’ left pad sealed it.
Tied, 1-1, late in regulation, the Devils’ power play nearly snapped the stalemate. With Tyler Bozak off for hooking, Parise and Paul Martin narrowly missed shots at open nets that could have capped New Jersey’s second road win in their last 11 tries.
The Devils (42-24-4) did capture a key point to move one behind the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins, who won in Boston. Jersey’s Team slipped to 18-15-3 on the road and finished 2-1-1 in the season series with Toronto. They open a three-game homestand against St. Louis on Saturday.
“This one, there’s a reason,” said head coach Jacques Lemaire, explaining his team’s road struggles. “Probably the other ones, too. You play three games in four nights and your third game’s on the road against a team that’s rested and plays hard.”
Getting his second start in six nights – and third in the last 49 games – Danis made his mark with some strong stops, including one on Kulemin’s redirection with 4:35 to go in the first. He had another outstanding save, lunging across the goal line with the paddle of his stick to deny Mikhail Grabovski on a Maple Leafs power play at 6:40 of the second.
Danis, who got the nod in both trips to Toronto, is 3-2-1 in 11 appearances as a Devil. He notched his last win on Dec. 19, when he made 19 saves in relief of Martin Brodeur against the Thrashers.
Lemaire felt Wednesday’s energetic victory over Pittsburgh might have taken its toll. The Devils won, 5-2, to sweep the six-game season series with the defending champs and take their fifth straight triumph at Prudential Center.
“We didn’t play as well in front of (Danis) as we could have,” Lemaire said. “Probably, a very emotional game last night and three games in four nights, you could see some of the guys were a little tired. We didn’t have that quickness; that jump that we usually do.”
Martin was in the lineup for a second straight night after returning from injury on Wednesday. New Jersey’s top defenseman logged 21:26 of ice time, including 4:59 with the man advantage. He registered one hit and two blocked shots.
“He played good,” Lemaire said. “To me, he’s a guy that has a lot of talent. He can move the puck well and skate with it. He missed that open net at the end there, he could’ve won the game for us, but it happens.”
The Devils are still looking to reignite their power play, which has been held off the scoreboard in five straight games (0-for-14).
“We don’t build any confidence with our power play,” Lemaire said. “Our first two power plays, I think we had one shot on net.”
The coach wants to see better team play with the man advantage.
“When it’s time to skate, they don’t skate,” he said. “They shoot the puck in, nobody goes and gets the puck. If one guy goes, (the opponent) has two (men on the puck). If they have two, you have to have three; if they have three, you have to have four.”
Kessel opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period. Dion Phaneuf fired a shot on goal from the right side, and Kessel got to the rebound at the left circle to shovel his 27th into the open side with 1:06 left in the frame.
Andrew Peters did his part to rally the Devils’ spirits early in the second. Dressed for his second appearance in the last 12 games, Peters dropped the gloves with top Toronto heavyweight Colton Orr and earned a draw at 2:32.
That paved the way for the Devils to draw even late in the second. Clarkson collected a nice set-up from Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond to bury his ninth of the year from the left hash marks with 4:14 left in the period. The assist was Letourneau-Leblond’s second career point (2a).
Parise is 5-for-9 in shootouts this season with one game-deciding goal.
1 - 0 TOR
1 - 1 Tie