Rookie defenceman Jon Merrill set up a second-period breakaway goal by Patrik Elias and scored 32 seconds later to lead the New Jersey Devils to a much-needed 3-2 win over Toronto on Sunday night, sending the struggling Maple Leafs to their fifth straight loss.
Damien Brunner also scored and Cory Schneider had 21 saves as the Devils gave their slim playoff hopes a boost by winning for the second time in six games.
Toronto had plenty of good scoring chances the rest of the way with none greater than a two-man advantage for 1:16 late in the period. Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson had big shots that Schneider stopped in winning his second straight after losing the previous three.
Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel scored for the Maple Leafs, who saw embattled goaltender James Reimer give up three goals on 10 shots in less than 22 minutes of action.
The skid ties Toronto's longest of the season and it could not have come at a worse with nine games left in the regular season.