Nazem Kadri (left) celebrates his goal during the first period at the Prudential Center. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)
Nazem Kadri sparked Toronto’s four-goal first period with a power-play score, and the red-hot Maple Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Friday night.
Kadri and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and an assist, Auston Matthews scored his 21st goal and fellow rookie Connor Brown embarrassed Devils goaltender Cory Schneider with a short-handed goal while helping the Maple Leafs to their sixth win in seven games (6-0-1).
Toronto’s Frederik Andersen made 30 saves, giving up late goals to PA Parenteau and Jon Merrill in the final 3:24.
The Maple Leafs, who had blown multiple-goal leads in their last four games, also got two assists from James van Riemsdyk while spoiling the Devils’ celebration of former owner John McMullen, who became the team’s first inductee into its ring of honour at the Prudential Center.
Kadri, who has five goals in eight games, got his 15th of the season at 9:26, putting the rebound of a van Riemsdyk power-play shot into an open net.
It got much worse for New Jersey less than four minutes later when Brown got his ninth of the year. Devils defenceman Damon Severson played the puck from centre ice back to Schneider, and the goaltender was about to play the puck behind the net when Brown stole it and slid it in as the crowd groaned.
Matthews stretched the lead to 3-0 at 14:40, putting a loose puck that hit off Zach Hyman into the net.
That was enough for Devils coach John Hynes, who lifted his goaltender after allowing three goals on five shots.
Keith Kinkaid came off the bench and immediately faced a Maple Leafs power play because defenceman Kyle Quincey knocked down Hyman in front of Schneider. Bozak scored 35 seconds later on a rebound, the second shot that Kinkaid faced.
Parenteau scored on a power play with 3:24 to go and Merrill got his first off the season in close with 2:29 left.
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