Devils see 3 goals waved off, 13-game winning streak end vs. Leafs
The loss featured its fair share of drama as the red-hot Devils had three goals controversially disallowed.
First, Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler thought he opened the scoring in the first period, but his tally was nullified because the officials found forward Nathan Bastian interfered with Leafs netminder Matt Murray in the crease.
The Devils thought they'd scored into an empty cage in the second period, but it once again didn't count since forward Tomas Tatar clipped Murray at the side of the net after the goalie played the puck.
Finally, Erik Haula seemed to get the Devils on the board in the third period, but it was ruled no goal because the puck was kicked into the net.
Devils captain Nico Hischier said the calls were "definitely frustrating."
"Nothing we can do," he said. "The refs make the calls, and there's nothing that's going to change it. So we gotta stick with it, and I think we did a good job with it."
Fans at the Prudential Center expressed their displeasure by throwing debris onto the ice.
Maple Leafs captain John Tavares wasn't impressed by the scene.
"It's disappointing. It's dangerous," he said postgame, according to TSN's Mark Masters. "Yeah, it is what it is. I think it felt better to beat the crowd than the Devils tonight."
Star winger Mitch Marner echoed his teammate's comments.
"It's full beers. It's dangerous. We're not looking for that. We're not seeing it coming. Dodged a couple. … I don't know (why) it's our fault. … They're throwing it to try and hit us. It's the first I've ever seen. It's insane."
Dougie Hamilton eventually got New Jersey on the board with just over five minutes remaining in the contest. However, it wasn't enough. Tavares kicked off the scoring in the opening frame after burying a hardworking feed from Marner, who extended his point streak to 14 games.
Toronto rookie Pontus Holmberg added to the lead just over two minutes later with his first NHL goal after pouncing on a turnover. The marker stood as the eventual game-winner.
New Jersey outshot the Maple Leafs 35-20.
The Devils' fiercest push arguably came in the third period when New Jersey controlled 74.2% of the shot attempts, 82.4% of the scoring chances, 77.8% of the high-danger chances, and 72.7% of the expected goals at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick.
"The battle was great," Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said of his team's effort in spite of the disallowed tallies. "We left some good chances out there. ... That's a hard league; you can lose in a lot of different ways."
The Devils were one victory away from setting a new franchise record for longest winning streak.
"It's another challenge. Nobody feels good. I don't feel good," Ruff said about the end of his team's run. "That's the first thing I said: I don't like the feeling. I don't like to lose. And I know it's been a while, but you don't like that feeling.
"Now you've got to get over that and get ready for your next game. ... We've gotta be able to answer the bell and continue to prove we can be the team that was able to run all those games together."