It took two quick goals in the third period Tuesday night to change everything.
David Clarkson and Zach Parise scored less than two minutes apart midway through the final period, and Martin Brodeur made 41 saves as the Devils beat the Maple Leafs 4-1 to snap a three-game winless streak.
"Classic New Jersey Devils game," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "It's 2-1, you open up your game and they pounce on you and capitalize."
Parise finished with two goals, and Brian Gionta also scored for the Devils, who were 0-2-1 in their last three games.
"We found a way to score, and there were some nice plays on the goals, especially the third and fourth," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "We played pretty well, outside of a few minutes there in the second period and, obviously, Marty made some big saves at big times, which you need in this league."
Nik Antropov scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs, who had picked up nine of a possible 10 points in their last five games, but remained six points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"One game at a time is a cliche but you're not going to go 15-0 down the stretch," Maurice said. "So the rebound Thursday [at Boston] is very important."
Vesa Toskala made his 19th consecutive start in goal for Toronto, but wasn't quite as sharp as he had been of late while giving up four goals on 25 shots.
The Devils remained fourth in the Eastern Conference because of Pittsburgh's 2-0 win at Tampa Bay. The conference-leading Penguins are one point ahead of the Devils in the Atlantic Division.
The Leafs outshot the Devils 14-5 in the opening period, but trailed 1-0 after Parise whipped around from behind the net and blasted a shot that beat Toskala on the far side at 11:22 for his team-leading 26th goal.
New Jersey made it 2-0 when Gionta slid home a rebound on a power play 5:11 into the second period.
Antropov pounded a rebound from in-close over Brodeur after a nice rush from Tomas Kaberle, the goal with 3:13 left in the middle period.
The Devils sealed the victory at 9:21 of the third period as Clarkson finished off a 2-on-1 break after a nifty pass from John Madden.
"That took the wind out of our sails right there," Toronto forward Matt Stajan said.
Parise made it 4-1 just 1:31 later on a one-timer into an open side.
"[Our offense] has been fighting it a little bit, got shut out and didn't put too many goals in the net lately," Parise said. "It's been a big problem, so it was nice to get a little breathing room at the end of the game."
Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky returned after missing four games with a rib injury. To make room, they sent forward Robbie Earl back to Toronto of the AHL. ... Devils defenseman Paul Martin missed his second game with an ankle injury.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Air Canada Centre Location: Toronto, Ontario
Referees: Stephane Auger, Don Koharski Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Scott Cherrey
Attendance: 19,507 (103.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Zach Parise (26)
Assist: Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Gionta (19)
(Power Play) Assists: Johnny Oduya, Sheldon Brookbank
Nik Antropov (24)
Assists: Tomas Kaberle, Mats Sundin
David Clarkson (8)
Assists: John Madden, Sergei Brylin
Zach Parise (27)
Assists: Patrik Elias, Jay Pandolfo