Brian Rafalski scored off the skate of Toronto defenseman Cory Cross seven minutes into overtime, giving the Devils a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Maple Leafs in Game Three.
From along the left boards, Rafalski threw a pass into the slot that was intended for Game Two hero Randy Mckay, who was driving to the net. But before the puck could get to McKay, it caromed off Cross' right skate in the slot and through goaltender Curtis Joseph's legs.
"A lot of times, the overtime goals happen like that," Joseph said. "You throw it at the net and get a funny bounce. There's not much you can do."
"It's nice to see. He moves the puck well and it's nice to see him get rewarded with the goal," said Scott Stevens, the Devils' captain and Rafalski's defensive partner.
It was the third goal of the postseason for Rafalski, who also setup Scott Gomez's tying goal early in the third period.
After dropping the opener of the series, the heavily favored Devils have won the last two games in overtime. Game Four is in Toronto on Thursday.
"You need four wins to win a series. We got two. It's great winning in overtime," Devils center Bobby Holik said. "We did the necessary things to win. We've shown more character as the series went on."
Garry Valk and Steve Thomas scored for Toronto, which had won its seven previous overtime games before losing the last two.
"We were right there. We had our chances to win and they ended up winning," said Leafs captain Mats Sundin. "If we come back Thursday with the same effort, we can go back to Jersey 2-2."
The Leafs nearly won it in the first minute of the extra session. Gary Roberts stole the puck at the New Jersey blue line from Colin White and drove to the net. Goaltender Martin Brodeur got a piece of the shot that deflected just over the net.
Roberts had another chance with 17:37 remaining, but Brodeur stopped his backhander from the bottom of the bottom of the left circle.
Brodeur, who surrendered four goals in the third period in Game Two, rebounded with a much better performance and finished with 26 saves. He was at his best in the first period, when Toronto had numerous scoring chances.
"It was a weird game. A lot of bounces, wide-open chances on both sides," Brodeur said. "We're fortunate the last bounce went our way."
Joseph also looked much more like the netminder that recorded a shutout in Game One rather than the one that gave up six goals in the second contest.
Under heavy pressure for much of the night, Joseph finished with 42 saves, including a stop on a breakaway by Gomez with under five minutes left in the third period. Alexander Mogilny also had a breakaway for New Jersey in the second period but shot wide of the net.
With four assists in the first two games, Roberts nearly got his first goal just 32 seconds into the opening period before being denied from down low by Brodeur.
Joseph was at his best with 11:38 left in the first while New Jersey was on the power play.
Gomez unleased a shot from the right circle and the puck bounced off the right goalpost. The puck seemed to be heading into the net but before it could make its way over the line, Joseph corraled it in his catching glove. The save was upheld by replay.
But later on that same power play, the Devils converted for the second time in 14 opportunties in the series. Holik's shot from the top of the left circle beat Joseph, who was screened in front by Patrik Elias. It was Holik's fifth goal of the postseason.
The Devils carried that lead into the second period, when the momentum changed in an instance.
On a breakaway, Mogilny, who led the Devils with 43 goals this season, shot wide of the net, leading to a 3-on-2 for the Leafs.
Defenseman Danny Markov had his shot stopped by Brodeur, but the rebound bounced to Garry Valk, who fought off the check of Ken Daneyko before putting the puck past the New Jersey netiminder, tying the game at 1-1 at 10:08.
Valk was playing for the first time this postseason after being sidelined since late in the regular season with a right eye injury.
White took an interference penalty with 9:20 left in the period and the Leafs took the lead 46 seconds later.
Roberts walked in from just to the right of the crease and had his shot kicked out by the right pad of Brodeur. But the puck bounced to former Devil Steve Thomas, who scored his third goal of the series and fourth of the postseason.
Rafalski made the play to help the Devils tie it at 2-2 just 1:34 into the third period.
Moving down the left boards, Rafalski chipped the puck to Gomez in front, where he beat Joseph with a quick shot for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Gomez nearly put the Devils in front with 4:46 left in the third, when he broke in alone on Joseph. But Joseph was up to the task, stacking his pads to keep the game tied.
The Devils carried the play for much of the third, outshooting the Leafs, 17-8.