NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Long-time New Jersey Devil Patrik Elias finally joined the 400-goal club.
The “achievement” for the Toronto Maple Leafs on the same night was no cause for celebration.
Elias ended a nine-game goal-scoring drought with his 400th career tally and the Devils sent the Maple Leafs a franchise-record 11th straight loss, 4-1 Friday night.
“Yeah, finally, that’s how it felt,” said Elias, who earlier this season picked up his 600th assist and 1,000th point. “It seems good to finally get on the board. It’s been a while. It’s been a strange year.”
Elias, who has spent his entire 17-year NHL career with the Devils, became the 91st player in league history to score 400 goals with a shot from inside the right circle early in the second period off a nice pass by Travis Zajac. It came less than a minute after Elias hit the post.
The goal came with Elias’ daughter, Sophia, in attendance at the Prudential Center, marking the first time the toddler has seen him score, Elias believes.
“It’s a great accomplishment to score 400 goals in this league,” Zajac said of Elias, who has played on two of the Devils’ three Stanley Cup winners. “He is a pretty special player for this team for a long time.”
Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Elias is an all-purpose player who plays at both ends of the ice.
“He has the highest hockey sense you can have,” Lamoriello said.
Cory Schneider had 33 saves, giving up a third-period power-play goal to Tyler Bozak. Tuomo Ruutu, Steve Bernier and Jaromir Jagr also scored as the streaking Devils won their third straight for the first time since the start of the season and improved to 8-2-2 in the last dozen games.
The Maple Leafs’ skid breaks the old mark set by the 1966-67 team. That group rebounded with a 10-game unbeaten streak (eight wins, two ties) and won the Stanley Cup, the last time Toronto was in a Cup final.
“These are not the kind of records you want to set,” Bozak said. “It’s awful.”
The Maple Leafs will have a chance to end the streak Saturday against Edmonton, the NHL’s second-worst team.
Reimer used blunts words to describe the Maple Leafs’ streak.
“When things are going the way they’re going, we have to find a way to rally around each other,” he said. “We have to smarten up and play with passion, play like men, play with resolve. We don’t have that right now.”
Ruutu had given the Devils the lead midway through the first period, aided by a lucky bounce off the boards behind the net. Ruutu made a cross-ice pass to Mark Fraser at the left point, but Fraser’s shot was wide of the net. The puck came out the right side and Ruutu slid the puck in off the skate of goaltender James Reimer, who could not get to the goal post quick enough.
Bernier extended the lead to 3-0 later in the second period with his sixth goal in eight games. Reimer made a pad save on a shot by Adam Larsson from the right point, but the rebound hit the back of Bernier’s skate and went into the net.
“Whenever we made a mistake, it ends up in the back of the net,” Bozak said.
Until Bozak scored with 8:09 left in regulation, the closest the Maple Leafs came was a shot off the crossbar by former Devil David Clarkson in the first period.
Bozak got his 15th by tapping the rebound of Phil Kessel’s shot into an open net. Kessel’s shot hit off the crossbar and the Devils seemed to stop playing, thinking the shot went in the net.
Jagr scored into an empty net for his 716th career goal, one behind Phil Esposito for fifth in NHL history.
NOTES: Devils F Adam Henrique celebrated his 25th birthday. …Kessel was lucky not to be cut when hit in the face by the stick of Toronto D Cody Franson in a first-period scramble in front of the Leafs net. …Toronto D Dion Phaneuf missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury. …Devils RW Michael Ryder has been a healthy scratch for five straight games. …New Jersey was 4-0-1 on the just completed five-game homestand. …Keith Kinkaid will start in goal for the Devils in Montreal on Saturday night.
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