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Maple Leafs 5, Devils 3: Brodeur Rusty As Devils Drop Third Straight

The New Jersey Devils welcomed back Martin Brodeur, ho missed six games with a shoulder injury, Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leags. The Maple Leafs didn't make things easy on him.

Toronto scored five goals on 23 shots to hand the Devils their third straight loss, 5-3, Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.

"Definitely I would have loved a better result," Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "I didn't play well at all. But at least I got my game under my belt and that was important to me."

Joffrey Lupul powered the Maple Leafs offense, recording a natural hat trick in just 7:22 during the second period. Joey Crabb and Mikhail Grabovski also scored for Toronto.

David Clarkson, Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus scored for New Jersey. They've allowed three plus goals in each of their past three losses.

Crabb opened the scoring at 8:37 with his first goal of the season. A puck deflected up in the air in front of the net, and Crabb batted it past Brodeur to give Toronto an early lead.

Dainius Zubrus tied the game, 1-1, with a powerplay goal at 12:16 of the opening period. Zubrus passed the puck to Adam Henrique on the right side. He drove the net, but Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson stopped his shot with his pads. Zubrus put the rebound past Gustavsson's glove for his third goal of the season.

Grabovski put Toronto back on top, 2-1, with 4:10 remaining in the first period. Defenseman Jake Gardiner fed Grabovski, who flubbed his shot from the right circle. The puck deflected off the stick of Andy Greene and passed a slow moving Brodeur for Grabovski's fifth goal of the season.

The Devils powerplay tied the game again at 3:29 of the second period. Adam Larsson passed the puck to Elias in the right circle. The center one-timed the puck on net, where it deflected off the stick of Dion Phaneuf and over Gustavsson's shoulder for Elias' fifth goal of the season.

The assist was the first professional point for Larsson.

Lupul then took over.

He gave the Leafs their third lead of the game at 6:31 of the middle frame. Mike Komisarek took a shot from the right point, and Brodeur made the initial save. He left a rebound that Lupul fired home from the left circle his sixth goal of the season.

After Clarkson tied the game 3-3, Lupul scored the game-winning goal at 9:45 of the second period. A shot from the right circle deflected off the stick of Henrik Tallinder and past Brodeur for Lupul's seventh goal of the season.

Lupul completed the hat trick at 13:13 of the period, pushing the Maple Leafs lead to 5-3. Grabovski, stationed behind the net, passed the puck to Lupul, who was all alone on the left side of the crease. Brodeur slid over to make the initial save, but Lupul pushed the rebound past Brodeur for his eighth goal of the season.

Lupul recorded his first hat trick since December 12, 2007.

Elias said the Devils shot themselves in the foot, playing a sloppy game.

"We were running around too much in our zone and we didn't come out clean on our breakouts and we got into trouble out of that," he told Gulitti. "They had good opportunities out of that and scored a few goals. If you control the puck, you control the game and we didn't do that."

Devils' captain Zach Parise, who was a minus-2 tonight, said the team must turn things around quickly.

"Of course, there's concern," he told Gulitti. "You lose five out of six games, that's always a concern. We've got to be better. We've got to find a way to be that team that was out in L.A., that dominated that game. We've got to have that team show up."

New Jersey will face Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night in the second of back-to-back games.

Game Notes

Elias' powerplay goal, the 93rd of his career, broke a tie with former coach John MacLean for the franchise lead...Ilya Kovalchuk, who assisted on the Elias' goal, recorded his first point in four games...New Jersey recorded two powerplay goals in one game for the first time this season.