EditorsNote: adds new fifth graf to update New Jersey’s standing
Keith Kinkaid continued his hot goaltending with 31 saves, and Patrick Maroon had two assists as the New Jersey Devils clinched their first Stanley Cup playoff berth since 2012 with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Kinkaid improved to 16-3-1 since Feb. 13 as New Jersey (44-28-9, 97 points) won its fourth straight game and improved to 7-0-1 in its past eight contests.
Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha each scored for the Devils off nice assists by Maroon, New Jersey’s Taylor Hall had his league-best, nine-game points streak snapped in the win. Kinkaid improved to 10-1-1 in his past 12 games.
William Nylander scored for Toronto (48-25-7, 103), which had already clinched third place in the Atlantic Division. Frederik Andersen finished with 37 saves, including one on a breakaway by Hall.
New Jersey and the Columbus Blue Jackets are tied for third in the Metropolitan Division with 97 points, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. All four teams have one game remaining.
Nylander gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at the 6:56 mark of the first period, taking a cross-ice pass from Auston Matthews. Nylander spun around in the right circle and beat Kinkaid to the glove side, becoming the sixth player on the Maple Leafs to hit the 20-goal mark this season, the first time since the 1998-99 season Toronto accomplished that feat.
New Jersey answered with a pair of goals in the second period. Zacha scored the first at the end of a give-and-go with Maroon along the left boards, roofing a shot over Andersen’s right shoulder at 7:55 for his eighth goal of the season.
Wood then scored his 18th goal of the season and what proved to be the game-winner with 2:58 left in the second period. Maroon circled behind the net and backhanded a pass to the front of the crease, where Wood smashed a shot through Andersen’s pads.
New Jersey concludes the regular season at Washington on Saturday, while Toronto plays host to Montreal the same day in its regular-season finale.
—Field Level Media