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Tavares leads Maple Leafs to victory in Jersey

Tavares leads Maple Leafs to victory in Jersey
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Thankfully, their top line — led by John Tavares and Mitch Marner — got a boost with the return of Zach Hyman. And the line was very good on Thursday.

Tavares scored twice, Marner scored once and Hyman was a factor on every Leaf goal as Toronto beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2.

The Leafs swept the season series against the Devils. They had won both previous meetings by lopsided scores of 6-1 and 7-2. This one was going down that path with Toronto off to a 3-0 lead in the first period.

But like so much else lately for the Leafs, nothing has come easy and sometimes — with giveaways and soft play — they make things harder on themselves.

Still, Toronto pulled off a win they absolutely needed after winning just once in their previous four outings and starting to feel the heat from the Boston Bruins chasing them for second in the Atlantic Division.

Said Leafs coach Mike Babcock: “I liked that in the third period we didn’t back up and play in our own zone. We played the game in the offensive zone and we still had the puck, we took care of it. We didn’t give up much. I thought the first period was like that too, it was just the second period it got away from us.”

Said Tavares: “Well, it’s always that much more satisfying when it contributes in a big win, especially bouncing back after the other night. I think a credit to a lot of guys who I’ve played with over my career. Obviously, a big part of helping me be successful. Just trying to be consistent as long as I’ve been in the league and don’t want to stop there.”

“We gave up too many odd-man rushes, and let them get to the net,” Marner said.

Said Babcock: “Plus-four, he was involved in three goals there, heavy down low. It goes to show you need people to win the puck back and he was able to do that for us.”

Said Hyman: “It’s good to be back, I was excited to come back. It felt good in the first period, thought I had my legs and it was a good team win and happy we got it done.”

Up next: The Boston Bruins come to Scotiabank Arena on Saturday; Boston has won two of three against Toronto so far this season.
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