Travis Zajac scored late in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs. Zajac found the net on a power-play with 45.5 seconds remaining in the extra session to help the Devils register a first win in three games and strengthen their Atlantic Division lead. The goal came after Luke Schenn was penalised for hooking.
Zajac also had three assists with Zach Parise adding two goals and two assists and he said he was relieved his team had finally been able to see off the battling Toronto after they had wasted a two-goal advantage. "For the first two periods, we had the gas pedal down," he said. "We were on them, pressuring them, making them turn the puck over. In the third, we kind of let off." Of his match winner he added: "I was just able to get a good shot. It's been tough scoring goals lately and it was great to get some breaks and some chances."
The Leafs, bottom of the Northeast Division and mired in a five-game losing run, rallied twice from two-goal deficits to force overtime on Matt Stajan's backhander with 1:31 left in regulation. After defenceman Carl Gunnarsson's first NHL goal put Toronto out front, New Jersey scored three consecutive goals, the first two by Parise. But Toronto battled back, closing to make it 3-2 on Colton Orr's breakaway at 14:41 of the second.
Patrick Davis restored the two-goal advantage before Alexei Ponikarovsky and Stajan each tallied in the last five minutes of regulation time to tie the scores. Elsewhere in the NHL, Eastern Conference leaders Washington made it nine consecutive wins with a 4-1 success over the Florida Panthers. Mike Knuble scored twice for the Capitals, while Nicklas Backstrom and Jeff Schultz were also on target.