NEWARK, NJ – Damon Severson had never scored an overtime goal in the NHL, and this wasn't how he envisioned his first.
The Devils defenseman backhanded the puck into his own net with 2:22 left in overtime, gifting the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over New Jersey on Friday night for their season-best sixth straight victory.
Severson got the puck after Toronto's William Nylander lost control of it driving toward New Jersey's net. The 25-year-old Severson inadvertently beat goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood while trying to clear the puck out of danger. Nylander was credited with the goal.
“I was just trying to protect the puck," said Severson, who was consoled by teammates while leaving the ice. “I was not trying to do anything with it. Protect the puck and then get it out of harm’s way. I just hit it by accident into our own net.”
Nylander set up the play by taking the puck from Jack Hughes. It's Toronto's longest winning streak since November of 2017.
“It's nice to get some puck luck and have bounces go your way," Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson said after making 24 saves. “Start of the season, felt I was playing well and making other teams have to make good plays to score goals but just as a team we weren't getting those fortunate bounces to go our way, so it's nice to get those bounces. We need to create our own luck and bounces.”
Zach Hyman, Ilya Mikheyev, Kasperi Kapanen and John Tavares scored for Toronto, which witnessed a scary moment in the third period when Mikheyev sustained a deep gash on his right wrist from Hughes' skate.
“It was obviously scary there, seeing that much blood,'' Tavares said. ”Obviously, a guy that we care deeply about and was having a great night and playing tremendous for us, so thoughts are with him.''
Mikheyev was being held for observation at a hospital.
Nico Hischier, Nitita Gusev, Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt scored for New Jersey, and Blackwood made 32 saves.
“Obviously, it is a tough one to swallow, but it is what it is," Palmieri said. “Mistakes. You are going to be the hero some nights and but it’s about coming in the next day and being ready."
Tavares tied it at 4 with 11:45 left in the third period with a tap-in power-play goal from Blackwood's crease. Nylander made the pass to set it up.
The teams combined for seven goals during a wide-open first 40 minutes. Palmieri and Bratt got the last two a little more than three minutes apart to give the Devils a 4-3 lead.
Palmieri scored his 15th of the season on a point-blank shot shortly after lifting Tyson Barrie's stick to take the puck and tie it at 3. Palmieri jumped on a center-ice turnover by Kapanen to set up the go-ahead goal by Bratt at 10:11.
Hyman and Mikheyev scored 19 seconds apart late in the first period to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead.
With the Devils on a two-man advantage, Gusev tied it at 1:42 of the second period. Kapanen put Toronto ahead with a top-shelf shot at 5:18, but the Devils countered with two over the next five minutes for their second lead. Hischier had scored the game's first goal early.
NOTES: The teams will play two more times this season, both in Toronto (Jan. 14, Mar. 17). ... Toronto had 19 shots in the first period. It was still seven shy of its season high for a period, which it has done twice. ... Toronto is 12-4 since Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as coach. ... Devils are 2-6 in overtime. The Maple Leafs are 5-4.
Maple Leafs: Return home to host Rangers Saturday night.
Devils: At Ottawa Sunday night.