Elias, Merrill score in 32-second span, Devils win

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Don’t write off the New Jersey Devils‘ playoff chances, just yet.

The Devils are getting good goaltending from Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur, and anything is possible when the guy in the nets is on his game.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are another story. They’re struggling in goal with Jonathan Bernier out with a groin injury and they are barely hanging on to a playoff spot.

It was on display Sunday night.

Schneider made 21 saves and withstood a furious late attack and Devils posted a much-needed 3-2 win over Toronto, sending the struggling Maple Leafs to their fifth straight loss without Bernier.

The win moved the Devils within five points of Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Washington is a point behind the Maple Leafs with a game in hand and Columbus is two points back with two games in hand.

“I know the statistics don’t say that but I really feel we can win every game,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the Devils‘ playoff chances after winning for only the second time in six games.

“You look at our schedule and if our goaltending continues to play the way it is, I think we can win every game.”

The Devils won this matchup by taking advantage of Toronto mistakes to take a 3-0 lead early in the second period.

Rookie defenseman Jon Merrill set up a second-period breakaway goal by Patrik Elias and scored 32 seconds later to build the lead. Damien Brunner had scored in the first period.

“Anything is possible,” Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. “We are not looking 10 games ahead. We’re just looking at the next game. We’re trying to play every game like it’s the last game.”

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.

New Jersey, which was shut out twice in its recent slide, capitalized on bad plays by the Maple Leafs.

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