NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 30th goal and added an assist to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.
Mattias Tedenby, Henrik Tallinder and Patrik Elias also scored for the Devils in the game that matched two teams that made desperate second-half playoff runs only to fall short.
Martin Brodeur had 22 saves but had to sweat out the final minutes after Toronto got third-period goals from Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak to make it close.
Kovalchuk extended his string of 30-goal NHL seasons to eight when he scored at 13:47 of the first with New Jersey on a power play. The Russian took a pass from rookie Jacob Josefson in the left circle and ripped a shot into the right corner of the net past a screen James Reimer for his ninth power-play goal.
The Maple Leafs, eliminated from playoff contension Tuesday, had two great chances to tie it later in the period but Brodeur made a sliding stop on Bozak and another on Kessel after the All Star made a great toe-drag move in close to get a scoring opportunity.
Tedenby and Tallinder scored in a 65-second span late in the second period to take control, and Kovalchuk made the play to ignite the scoring spree.
Elias skated in the Toronto zone and dropped a pass to Kovalchuk at the left point. He quickly found Tedenby in the right cirlce and the rookie one-timed the pass into an open net.
Tallinder got his fifth of the season from between the circles a little more than a minute later after taking a pass from fourth-line center Adam Mair.
Toronto switched goaltenders in the third period and Jean-Sebastien Giguere sparked his team by standing tall during an early power play.
Kessel got the Maple Leafs on the board with a power-play goal at 6:18. It was his 31st of the season and came off a nice feed by Joffrey Lupul.
Bozak made the game interesting scoring a short-handed goal with Toronto skating with a two-man disadvantage. The tally came 8 seconds after Dion Phaneuf was sent off for elbowing, giving New Jersey a 29-second two-man edge.
New Jersey is 21-8-2 since the All-Star break. Toronto is 18-8-6.
The Devils held out left wing Zach Parise for the second straight game. He returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing roughly four months following surgery on his right knee. New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire refused to say why Parise was not playing, but hinted the U.S. Olympic star was having questions about his knee.
NOTES: Devils D Colin White and Anton Volchenkov were again out with lower-body injuries. White has missed six straight while Volchenkov has missed five of six. ... Maple Leafs LW Clarke MacArthur turned 26 on Wednesday. ... Kovalchuk played in his 700th game and has 368 career goals. ... Devils C Dainius Zubrus suffered an upper body injury when boarded by Joey Crabb in the first period and did not return. ... The game was the Leafs' final one of the road this season (19-19-3). They finish the season at home against Montreal on Saturday.