Devils close out road trip in Toronto
Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 9:35 AM
DEVILS (12-12-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (15-10-2)
MSG RADIO: WFAN 660 AM
New Jersey 4-6-0; Toronto 5-4-1.
This is the second of four meetings between these Eastern Conference teams. In their first meeting Nov. 2 in New Jersey, Joffrey Lupul scored a natural hat trick to lead the Leafs to a 5-3 win that spoiled the return of Martin Brodeur
, who returned to the crease after missing six games with a shoulder injury.
Neither team has done much of late to pull ahead of the pack in the Eastern Conference. While Toronto was swept in a home-and-home series with Boston by a combined score of 10-4 before rebounding against the Rangers, the Devils have lost four in a row, undermining a recent 4-1-0 run.
New Jersey’s 4-1-0 run as it ended the month of November appeared to indicate that the Devils might be rounding into mid-season form. But the four-game losing skid that followed has undone any traction they previously gained. They've already lost the first three in a four-game road trip that ends in Toronto. The troubled trip started ominously with a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Avalanche on Wednesday. They followed that loss with consecutive 4-2 losses in Minnesota and Winnipeg.
Against the Jets in Winnipeg Saturday night, Patrik Elias
' 5-on-3 powerplay goal gave the Devils a lead late in the second period. But that lead was short-lived as, with one man still in the box, Alexander Burmistrov scored a shorthanded marker for the Jets just 67 seconds after Elias' tally. Mark Stuart’s snapshot eluded Jonas Hedberg 13:13 into the third to give Winnipeg the lead and Evander Kane potted his second of the game into an empty net to seal the Winnipeg victory.
"We played hard," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was a hard-fought game both ways. I liked the way we played for a third-in-four and on back-to-back nights."
After absorbing a 2-5-1 run through November, Toronto appeared to turn the corner near the end of the month when it won three of four, a streak that included 7-1 wins over Tampa Bay and Washington, two teams the Leafs could be battling for a playoff spot later this season. But the back-to-back losses against the Bruins gave the Leafs an 0-4-0 record this season against their division rival as they headed into New York for a Monday night affair against the Rangers.
Against the Blueshirts, Toronto raced out to a 3-0 lead with League scoring leader Phil Kessel’s two assists pacing the offense. The Rangers managed to cut the lead to 3-2 by the end of the second period, but an empty-net goal from David Steckel and 12 third-period saves from Jonas Gustavsson allowed the Leafs to preserve the 4-2 win.
Rookie Adam Henrique
has been a pleasant surprise for the Devils, scoring six points on his current five-game point streak. Ilya Kovalchuk
also has five points in his current four-game streak. … For the Maple Leafs, Joffrey Lupul has an astonishing 20 points in his last 16 games while Kessel has four points in his last four games.
Devils forward Cam Janssen
may miss the game after being rushed to the hospital following a violent hit in Winnipeg, while Travis Zajac
(Achilles surgery) and Jacob Josefson
(clavicle surgery) are on IR. … For Toronto, Mike Komisarek (broken arm), Mike Brown (back), Colby Armstrong(ankle), and Matthew Lombardi (shoulder) are all on IR.
Stat Pack: Martin Brodeur
starts for the Devils on Tuesday night. Brodeur was pulled 8:17 into Saturday night's game in Minnesota after allowing three Wild goals on four shots. It was the second-shortest start ever for Brodeur, who was pulled eight minutes into his start last January against the Carolina Hurricanes. The League's all-time wins leader has allowed 12 goals on 55 shots in his last three games and has allowed three or more goals in four of his last five starts. Brodeur is 1-4-0 in that span, with his only win coming in a 36-save performance Nov. 23 against the last-place Blue Jackets.
Pop quiz: who led the League in points in the month of November? If you said Joffrey Lupul, you are correct. The 28-year-old winger has been a revelation for the Leafs this season. His 19 points in November are more than half his 31-point output for all of last season, which he split between Anaheim and Toronto. His 18 assists in 27 games this season are also more than he had all of last season.