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MacLean turns to Hedberg vs. Caps

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 1:19 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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MacLean turns to Hedberg vs. Caps
The Devils have a tough task ahead as they get set to host the League-leading Washington Capitals tonight. But head coach John MacLean is encouraged by his team’s effort in Saturday’s game at St. Louis.

Though they wound up on the short end of a 3-2 final, the Devils scored 26 seconds into the game, then established a 2-1 lead before the Blues rallied. They put 37 shots on Jaroslav Halak, as St. Louis allowed more than 31 shots on home ice for the first time all season.

“We had the opportunities,” MacLean said this morning. “I wish we would’ve gone up 3-1 when we did there, but we weren’t able to score. We had those opportunities in the second. We have to be ready right off the start again, be conscious of our positioning, our third man, limit the odd number situations, and manage the puck properly.”

Tonight’s game is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Devils (5-13-2) suffered a 7-2 loss at Washington (14-5-2) back on Oct. 9. Johan Hedberg, who relieved Martin Brodeur in that game to start the third period, starts tonight.

In their second game of the season, New Jersey built a 2-1 advantage only to see the Capitals score six unanswered, including an Alex Ovechkin penalty shot.

Ovechkin and teammate Alex Semin are tied for third overall with 26 points. With 22 points, Nicklas Backstrom's the third Cap among the top 20 scorers in the League.

“They embarrassed us last game,” the coach said. “They lit us up pretty good. They’re a high-flying team, they can put the puck in the net, so we’re going to have to be aware of that, manage it properly, and pay attention to all our details.”

MacLean went with St. Louis native Mike McKenna against the Blues. He registered 24 saves in his hometown debut. Two unfortunate plays – a late whistle and a bad bounce off the end boards – separated McKenna from a better outcome.

“I felt Mike was going to give us the best opportunity to win, so that’s what I went with,” MacLean said. “You have to make those decisions and tonight Heddy’s going to play. We look for Heddy to have a good game for us. I think he’s going to give us the best chance to win tonight.”

The Devils recalled defenseman Mark Fayne from Albany (AHL) under emergency conditions, but MacLean indicated he had yet to make a decision on his d-men tonight.

“I told the seven D to be ready,” MacLean said. “He’s been playing well down there, so we’ll see. We may put him in. He’s a right-hand shot, so we’ll see.”

Fayne, 23, was New Jersey’s fifth choice in 2005. He has one goal, three assists in 16 games with Albany this season, his first in the AHL. After notching the game-winner in a 4-0 triumph at Rochester on Saturday, he’s hoping to make his NHL debut tonight.

“It’s been going well,” Fayne said of his first year with the 8-9-0-0 A-Devils. “We hit a bit of a rough patch past couple of weeks, but this past weekend we got out of it with two big wins. It looks like we’re getting back on track.”

His parents will travel from Sagamore Beach, Cape Cod, to be at tonight’s game.

“I’m just trying to experience everything and make the best of it,” said Fayne. He has spent time on the Albany penalty kill, and plays a defense-first style.