Nice return to the Maple Leafs lineup for Nazem Kadri.
The London native netted a goal in regulation, then beat future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur with a slick move in the shootout as the Leafs survived against Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Friday night in New Jersey.
Kadri netted the winning goal on a nice deke by moving the puck to his backhand then pulling it to his forehand and sliding it past the outstretched leg of Brodeur.
It was also a nice debut for Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton, who recorded his first NHL point in his first NHL game.
The Oshawa native picked up an assist on Kadriís goal at 14:56 of the second period that put the Leafs up 2-0.
Both Kadri and Hamilton were getting a chance to impress new coach Randy Carlyle last night. The pair were emergency call-ups after Matt Frattin (lower body) and Clarke MacArthur (upper body) went down with injuries.
The 26-year-old Hamilton, who leads the Marlies with 23 goals, 10 of them on the power play, took a pass inside the Devils zone from centre Mikhail Grabovski, sent it back to defenceman Jake Gardiner who fired a lower slapper that was tipped in by Kadri.
It was the 21-year-old Kadriís fifth goal of the season with the Leafs.
Kadri, of course, has had a couple of other stints with the Toronto this season and it was his 20th game with the team.
Kadri also had a great opportunity to score from the side of the net in the first period, but he failed to get the shot away quickly enough.
Just goes to show, things move a little faster in the NHL.
Kadri wound up with the goals and was an even on the night in 13:50 of ice time, while Hamilton was even in 14:34 of ice time.
Things didnít work out quite as well for Carter Ashton, though.
It looked as though the rookie would be getting a shot on the top line with Phil Kessel and Tyler bozak after MacArthur got hurt. But he started on the fourth line with Jay Rosehill and David Steckel and wound up with just under six minutes of ice time and no shots.
BACK IN FORM?
Looks like James Reimer, who was making his sixth consecutive start last night, has recovered from the horrific 8-0 blowout loss in Boston on Monday.
The Leafs wouldnít even have been in this one if not for the 24-year-old goaltender.
He made 43 saves, including four in the extra period, and really earned his pay in the first when he made 18 stops with the Leafs on their heels for most of the second half of the fame.
Of course itís a little disconcerting that Reimer had to make that many save and any in overtime.
The Leafs had built a 3-1 lead in the third and it shouldnít have gotten to the extra frame, but then they started to crumble like they did against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
And with the Devils pressing in the second half of the third, Reimer came up big.
Looks like he needs some work on his glove hand though.
Both Kovalchuk and Zach Parise put the puck past his mit in the shootout.
GARDINER LEADS WAY
Here is something that should make you feel a little better about the Leafsí future.
Gardiner is among some impressive company when it comes to rookie campaigns.
He leads all rookie defencemen this year with 26 points and averages more than a hit a game.
To put that in perspective, Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty had 27 points in his rookie season, while Senators defenceman Eric Karlsson had 26 in his.
What lies ahead for Gardiner remains to be seen but he once again logged big minutes on the ice.
He needed to be a little stronger on the puck though when he was outmuscled by Parise who jammed home his 29th goal of the year.
Steckel ended a 33-game goal-less drought by putting a loose puck past Brodeur at 9:25 of the third. It was the faceoff specialistís eighth goal of the year Ö Bozak recorded his 16th goal of the season, a career high, when he wristed a bouncing puck over a sprawling Brodeur Ö Brodeur sure didnít move like a guy about to turn 40 when he made a huge save from his back on Matthew Lombardi at 4:51 of the first by stacking the pads Ö Bad penalty by Jay Rosehill in the second when he stuck out his leg and tripped up Jacob Josefson in the neutral zone.
The Leafs had just gone up 2-0. Josefson got some sweat revenge when banged in his own rebound not long after the penalty had ended. It was his first goal of the season Ö Leafs didnít have a power play opportunity all night but only had to kill off two Devils power plays Ö Third time in the four games this season that the two teams went to overtime.