NEWARK, N.J. – Jonas Gustavsson stopped 29 shots, and Colby Armstrong scored two goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils before a sparse crowd at the Prudential Center on Sunday night.
The Devils (9-24-2), who have the fewest points in the NHL, have lost five straight and 10 of 11 this month. New Jersey is 0-2 since Jacques Lemaire replaced John MacLean and began his third stint as Devils coach.
The New York area was hit by a heavy snowstorm that held the announced crowd to 5,329. The actual turnout appeared in the range of 2,500 to 3,000, some of whom left early following the announcement that local bus service was about to be suspended because of the storm.
With the building largely empty, the Devils extended an invitation midway through the second period for fans in the upper levels to move to the lower bowl.
Those who came down for a closer view saw the Devils extend their losing streak.
John Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin also scored for the Maple Leafs, who are 10 points ahead of the last-place Devils.
New Jersey gift-wrapped the opening goal by Armstrong at 13:50 of the first. Devils forward Brian Rolston was checked by Kris Versteeg as he tried to make a clearing pass from his end. The puck popped right to Armstrong, alone in the slot, and he flipped a shot past Martin Brodeur's glove.
In the second, Mitchell put Toronto up 2-0 at 8:45 with Versteeg again playing a role. Versteeg carried the puck into the Devils zone, eluding several checkers as he went hard to the net to hammer a shot that Brodeur stopped. Mitchell was at the doorstep to clean up the rebound for his second goal in two games.
The Devils then generated some of their best pressure. However, they couldn't dent Gustavsson and the potential rally fizzled as Kulemin scored from the left circle at 17:23.
Johan Hedberg replaced Brodeur to start the third period after he allowed three goals on 14 shots.
Gustavsson lost the bid for his second career shutout when Rod Pelley scored on the power play with 7:33 remaining.
Armstrong closed out the scoring with his second goal at 16:47.
NOTES: Gustavsson made a fourth straight start in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is out because of a groin injury. ... RW Mattias Tedenby returned for the Devils lineup after missing one game with food poisoning. ... Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils disappointing $100 million forward, vented some of his frustration in a second-period fight with Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf.