TORONTO — Moments after his 1,000th NHL game — and 546th win — Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock laid out his long-range blueprint.
Asked if he had another 1,000 games in him, Babcock cited his contract with Toronto.
"Well I've got this year and seven more here," Babcock said. "And then I'm going to stay for two more because the team's going to be that good."
The longtime coach was feeling good after P.A. Parenteau's shootout goal lifted Toronto, mired in a 2-7-2 slump, to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
James Reimer stopped Reid Boucher, Jacob Josefson and Lee Stempniak in the shootout. Peter Holland and Tyler Bozak missed for the Leafs.
David Schlemko's disputed third-period goal seemed destined to give the Devils a 2-1 win.
But Bozak beat Keith Kinkaid with a snap shot from the slot with 2:06 remaining to tie the game and set up the shootout. His 10th of the season snapped a 15-game goal drought that dated to Dec. 27.
Babcock simultaneously praised and challenged Bozak.
"I thought he had the puck all night tonight and was good ... I still think he can be way better. We need him to be consistently competitive like he was tonight."
The Leafs challenged Schlemko's goal, a shot through traffic from inside the blue line at 6:27. They argued that Reimer was interfered with as Jordin Tootoo, tangled up with defenseman Morgan Rielly, cruised past the net. But the goal stood.
Babcock, who has collected 546 wins, is the 25th NHL coach to reach the 1,000-game mark.
He was the subject of a first-period video tribute to the sounds of "How You Like Me Now?" by The Heavy. The 52-year-old raised his hand in a brief acknowledgment from behind the bench.
It was a night of milestones for the Leafs.
Captain Dion Phaneuf appeared in his 800th game, winger Joffrey Lupul, his 700th, and Nazem Kadri, his 300th. And the Leafs also marked the 40th anniversary of Darryl Sittler's 10-point night against the Boston Bruins.
"It's real nice to get the win for them," said Parenteau.
Josefson also scored for New Jersey and Shawn Matthias scored for Toronto.
Sittler said he congratulated Babcock on his big night before the game.
"I said, 'I'm sorry to steal your thunder, it's your 1,000th game.' I said, 'Just win it for us,'" Sittler told reporters between periods.
Devils rookie forward Joseph Blandisi stood out. The 21-year-old from nearby Markham, Ontario, assisted on the go-ahead goal for his fourth point in five games.
"I think it was a valuable point to gain tonight," said Devils coach John Hynes. "It was a tough, hard-fought game."
Toronto outshot New Jersey early but the Devils went ahead on the power play at 4:16 when Josefson's shot handcuffed Reimer. Matthias, parked in front of goal, tied it at 8:34 by redirecting a nifty feed from Bozak just three seconds after Travis Zajac stepped out of the penalty box.
A short-handed New Jersey goal midway through the second was called off due to offside after Stephen Gionta beat Reimer on a two-on-one break.
Notes: Devils backup Kinkaid started for Cory Schneider, who is nursing an undisclosed injury. ... The Leafs spend the next two weeks on the road with games in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Chicago before playing five of their next six at home, starting Feb. 18 against the Rangers. ... Reimer made his eighth start in the past 10 games. He came into the game with a save percentage of .932, second only to Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth (.933) among goalies with 20 games or more this season.
This story has been corrected to show that Joseph Blandisi assisted on the go-ahead goal, not the winning goal.