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Frustrations mount after Toronto loss

Brodeur returns to New Jersey after aggravating elbow injury

Thursday, 11.18.2010 / 10:53 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Frustrations mount after Toronto loss
Brodeur left early after aggravating bruised right elbow.
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Thursday's trip to Toronto produced another setback for the Devils, this time a 3-1 defeat by the host Maple Leafs.

Toronto struck for two power-play goals, including Kris Versteeg's tally that made it 3-1 at 13:17 of the third period. Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel also scored for the Leafs.

Dainius Zubrus had the only goal for the Devils, whose offensive struggles continued. New Jersey (5-12-2) went 0-for-2 with the man advantage, and have gone 1-for-36 on the power play away from home.

The team held a closed-door meeting following their second straight defeat, and fourth in the last five games. They were shutout Monday in Boston after tallying four goals in consecutive home contests.

"We go and we think we take a step, and then we take steps back," head coach John MacLean said. "The story of the game tonight: the power play. They're 2-for-3 and we're 0-for-2. They execute, we don't execute. It's frustrating."

Martin Brodeur played two periods but left the game after aggravating his bruised right elbow. The Devils are headed to St. Louis to face the Blues on Saturday; Brodeur returned to New Jersey for further evaluation.

"It's just the same thing," MacLean said. "He just tweaked it there again. It's more cautionary than anything to make sure he's fine. We'll evaluate him tomorrow."

Brodeur stopped 18 of 20 shots, and was relieved by Johan Hedberg at the start of the third. Hedberg allowed one goal on seven shots.

Frustrated, MacLean will keep at it, hoping to unlock the Devils' offensive potential.

"You always have ideas," he said. "You always keep trying and you don't give up, you keep plugging away. As difficult as it is sometimes, you have to get through it. We're going to keep getting prepared and keep trying until we get this thing right."

Toronto (7-8-3) snapped an eight-game losing skid with a four-goal rally against Nashville on Tuesday. Patrik Elias said the Devils needed a better effort from the very start.

"We're playing one of the teams that is struggling also and it seemed like they were the team playing a little bit looser out there. It's frustrating," Elias said. "We know we have a lot of guys hurt, we have young guys, new guys. We want to make sure that's not an excuse here. We don't have too much to lose here anymore. We have to go after it."

Trailing by two, MacLean pulled Hedberg for a 6-on-5 advantage with 2:22 left in regulation. The Devils still couldn't solve Jonas Gustavsson, who finished with 29 saves for his second win of the season.

"We have to be the team to initiate the game now and playing the way we're playing the last 10 minutes when we're down," Elias told reporters. "Sometimes it feels like we're waiting to get down in the game. Once that happens, all of a sudden we play better hockey: everybody's just jumping on the puck, everybody's moving as a five-man unit out there. That's what we have to do from the get-go. We just wanted to make sure that was being said."

Elias had a team-high six shots and was asked if he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Devils have been unable to build from last Friday's stirring 4-3 overtime win over Edmonton.

"That's kind of a gray area right now, obviously," said Elias. "A lot of us have never been in this situation. But it's life, you try to work through it. Nobody else is going to help us except the guys that are here."

Jamie Langenbrunner (neck) and Matt Taormina (ankle) did not make the trip. The Devils entered Thursday's game with 103 man games lost to injury.

"Yeah, we might have a few guys out of the lineup, but even when they were here we were still not playing the way we wanted to," Elias said. "It's always up to the guys in this locker room. We're playing another team that's struggling a little bit right now and they have to go in there and initiate the game. A lot of the times we play hard, but we just have to play smart and with determination, excitement."

Next week brings four games at or close to home. The Devils host Washington on Monday, Calgary on Wednesday, then head to Long Island next Friday. Philadelphia visits the Rock for a matinee next Saturday.

New lines
Zubrus' goal was the product of his new line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Vasyunov. Trailing 2-0, Kovalchuk found Vasyunov at the left circle, and the Russian rookie's centering feed went off Zubrus' right skate at 10:14 of the second. Led by Kovalchuk's four shots, the trio accounted for 1g-2a and seven shots.

Normally Kovalchuk's centerman, Travis Zajac was slotted between Brian Rolston and David Clarkson.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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