Devils Rally During Ilya Kovalchuk’s Debut to Beat Maple Leafs

NEWARK, N.J. — Jay Pandolfo capped a three-goal outburst in the final 3:04 and the New Jersey Devils welcomed Ilya Kovalchuk by rallying for a 4-3 victory over the stunned Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.

Dean McAmmond, Travis Zajac and Pandolfo scored in the wild finish to turn a disappointing debut for Kovalchuk into a wild celebration.

The explosive Kovalchuk, acquired from Atlanta on Thursday in a blockbuster five-player deal, finished with two assists, but really wasn't much of a factor in the stunning comeback.

Tomas Kaberle, Lee Stempniak and Rickard Wallin scored in the second period for the Maple Leafs, who were on the verge of going 2-0 since acquiring defenseman Dion Phaneuf and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere before the late collapse with Jonas Gustavsson in net.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Atlantic Division-leading Devils and was only their second victory in six games.

McAmmond started the comeback by taking a pass from Vladimir Zharkov and beating Gustavsson with a backhander to cut the Maple Leafs' lead to a goal.

Less than a minute later, Alexei Ponikarovsky was called for hooking, and Zajac tied it with 44 seconds to go after taking a nice cross-ice pass from McAmmond.

With everyone thinking overtime, the Devils attacked and stole the game. Defenseman Mike Mottau took a shot that Gustavsson stopped, but Pandolfo scored his first goal in 16 games by converting the rebound his fourth goal of the season.

It made for a storybook ending for Kovalchuk, who set up the Devils' first goal by Dainius Zubrus in the first period. Kovalchuk also assisted on Zajac's tally.

While the 31-goal scorer didn't tally, the Devils found a way to get them late and win.

Trailing 1-0 entering the second period, the Maple Leafs scored three times, with two coming on the power play.

Kaberle got Toronto on the scoreboard early in the second period with Rob Niedermayer off for slashing. The defenseman's shot from the left point hit off the stick of Pandolfo and fluttered into the upper part of the net for his sixth goal.

Stempniak put Toronto ahead for good with a nice individual effort. He took the puck from Devils' defenseman Mike Mottau along the left side boards, skated an arcing half circle to the top of the right circle and beat Martin Brodeur with a shot between the pads for his 14th goal.

Wallin got a little lucky in scoring his first of the season. Jamie Langenbrunner attempted to backhand a puck out of his own zone but his pass hit off the skate of New Jersey defenseman Colin White and went right to Wallin, who fired a 25-footer past Brodeur.

Zubrus got the Devils on the board, backhanding a puck past Gustavsson that Kovalchuk centered in front.

Devils F Patrik Elias missed his 10th game because of a concussion. … Wallin has seven career goals in 56 games.

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