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Devils turn page, head for Pittsburgh

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Lemaire was disappointed with Saturday's loss.

Jacques Lemaire is feeling better.

He wasn’t too happy after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Montreal that ended the Devils’ playoff hopes and snapped their streak of postseason appearances at 13.

“Could be one of the worst [games], if not the worst,” Lemaire said Monday. The Devils fell behind 3-0 in the third period despite a strong performance by Martin Brodeur. who had 26 saves.

Lemaire suggested the previous night’s victory over Philadelphia might have been draining.

“You’re trying to find out what really happened,” he said. “But you know, it was not only one guy, there. It was pretty much the whole team. When it’s the whole team, what would come to your mind is, well, we played the night before, guys were getting tired. We’ve been on the ice for the last probably 10 days.”

The season wraps up with a pair of back-to-backs, starting Tuesday in Pittsburgh followed by a home encounter with Toronto on Wednesday.

The Devils visit the Garden Saturday for a game that could have big implications for the Rangers’ postseason chances, then close out the regular season at home against Boston on Sunday.

It was evident at Monday’s practice that Lemaire is still working hard on the ice. He expects the same from his players in these finals days of the 2010-11 campaign.

“It always crosses your mind that maybe there’ll be a letdown,” Lemaire said. “But this is our job to try to get the players as ready as possible. The players' job is to play. Let’s all do our job and we’ll be fine.”

The coach’s goals from here on out are pretty straightforward.

“Play well, win the most games possible, get the guys to enjoy their last few games by working,” he said.

- Zach Parise wasn’t surprised by the soreness he felt after Saturday’s contest.

He returned after missing 65 games with a knee injury and recorded two shots in more than 16 minutes of ice time.

“It was sore, it definitely was sore, but that’s what I expected,” Parise said Monday. “Not just [the] knee, but shoulders from taking the contact and stuff. It was good.”

Parise will use the rest of the season to recover a feel for game play. As a team, Parise said there’s a responsibility to continue competing.

“You want to set a good example for the first-year guys and the younger players, and still approach every game like we gotta win,” he said. “We want to win. We owe it to the fans to play every game hard and try to win every game. We still have things to play for.”

With Parise back, Lemaire said he’ll continue tinkering with his lines.

Parise started Saturday with Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby. In the practices leading up to his comeback, Parise had replaced Ilya Kovalchuk on the top line with Travis Zajac and Nick Palmieri.

On Monday, Kovalchuk skated with Zajac and Palmieri, while Parise was matched with Josefson and Dainius Zubrus. Tedenby was moved the right side of a trio with Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias.

“We’ll see what’s going on there,” said Lemaire. “I’ll try different lines until I find players that go well together.”

- Colin White and Anton Volchenkov were both absent from Monday’s practice.

White has missed four games since suffering a lower body injury in Pittsburgh on March 25. Volchenkov was injured (lower body) the same night, returned Friday against the Flyers, then missed Saturday’s game. Lemaire said both are out for Tuesday’s contest.

Lemaire was uncertain whether either would return before the end of the season.

“It would be a guess,” he said.
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