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Devils still working to sustain full 60-minute effort down stretch
The Devils didn't have the right level of play early against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
TORONTO -- The Devils continue to search for ways to sustain their desired play for a full 60 minutes, and it lacked on Thursday.
As the season winds down, it's still something the Devils are looking to do more consistently, and it cost them early in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We were spotty through the first 40 minutes, and there's really no excuse for that," defenseman John Moore said. "They played last night and we know what our structure is. It was just a matter of getting to it. We were better in the third, but game started at 7:30. Didn't have enough guys going early."
Coach John Hynes didn't have an issue with the way the Devils opened the game, getting the first goal and a couple rushes in the first period. But he said they didn't play well in the second period bad, and it started from the top down.
"When it comes to compete level and puck management, in certain situations," Hynes said. "I think it wasn't some of the youthful guys in the second period."
Despite the second-period struggles, goalie Keith Kinkaid allowed one goal in that frame to keep it a 3-1 game and let the Devils stay alive in the third period. The game ended up being another close result where the Devils saw some positive signs from their younger players and the team's play as a whole -- just with the wrong end result.
Kinkaid said the final 20 minutes were what the team needs. Again, it's just a matter of replicating that effort from start to finish.
"I thought we were just OK in the first 40, then we picked it up in the third and that's how we need to play," Kinkaid said. "We were in their end quite a bit and forced them to make hard plays to get them out of the zone, kept them pinned a little bit and created scoring chances."
John Moore's 2 goals not enough as Devils fall to Maple Leafs | Rapid reaction
Two goals from defenseman John Moore weren't enough for the Devils on Thursday.
TORONTO -- Two goals from defenseman John Moore weren't enough for the Devils on Thursday.
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored three straight goals in the first and second periods to take control en route to a 4-2 win over the Devils at the Air Canada Centre.
Things started well for the Devils when Moore scored on the team's first shot of the game, sneaking a shot through the legs of goalie Curtis McElhinney from the right circle during a delayed penalty. McElhinney appeared to make the stop, but he never fully secured the puck before it trickled in net 2:59 into play.
But the Maple Leafs tied it minutes later on a miscue from goalie Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid made a save on a Maple Leafs power play, but when attempting to cover the puck near the right post, Kinkaid pushed it into the middle of the crease, where Josh Peivo poked it in at 5:46.
The Leafs took the lead for good when William Nylander rifled in a shot over Kinkaid's left shoulder at 18:17 in the first.
New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk pushed the Leafs' lead to 3-1 when he easily punched in a rebound 2:04 into the second period.
Moore scored his second of the night on a third-period power play, sending a shot from the point past McElhinney with 10:56 to play.
Connor Brown put the game aay for the Leafs with an empty netter with 45.1 seconds left.
Kinkaid in net: Kinkaid made his 19th start and 22nd appearance on Thursday night, marking another chance he's gotten late in the season as the Devils rotate goalies more frequently.
The Devils' backup will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and he knows he has plenty to play for in the final weeks of the season.
"The more consistent I play, the better I think I play and do," Kinkaid said. "This is the only place I haven't been a starter, so I just got to keep working no matter what. Sometimes breaks happens.
"I feel like my game's come a long way. I'm ready for whatever happens."
Injuries: Forwards Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson continue to skate on their own, but there is no indication on a possible return for the two. Forward Devante Smith-Pelly did not skate and he remains week-to-week.
Next up: The Devils return to New Jersey for a three-game home stand. They open with the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Prudential Center, followed by the Dallas Stars at 5 p.m. on Sunday. They conclude with the Winnipeg Jets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.