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Letourneau-Leblond called up from Lowell

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Letourneau-Leblond battled the Flyers' Cote in preseason. – When Brian Rolston came out of the Devils' lineup with an ankle sprain, rookie Petr Vrana got the call.

With Bobby Holik sidelined by a broken pinky finger he suffered Saturday in Washington, it's now Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond's turn.

Letourneau-Leblond, who was called up by the Devils from Lowell (AHL) under emergency conditions, took part in Devils practice Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion. He will likely see time on the left side of a line with Mike Rupp at center and David Clarkson at right wing.

"We'll see how Ruppy plays there," head coach Brent Sutter said Monday of Rupp's move to the middle, "but I'm comfortable with him playing center ice."

Holik will undergo surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss three to four weeks, Devils President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello announced. The Devils next play Wednesday, when they host the Dallas Stars on Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

Five games into 2008-09, the Devils are five points behind the Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand. The team will play six of its next seven games on home ice.

New Jersey (4-1-0) has won two in a row, and took three of four on its recent road trip. Even without his team's key offseason acquisitions in lineup, Sutter said his team must adjust until they can return.

"Players don't have control over injuries," Sutter said. "The guys that are playing just have to do the job for you. You go through it at different points in the year – every team does. The teams that handle it the right way and deal with it the right way are always the ones that seem to get through it the best."

Letourneau-Leblond, 22, is the third youngster to get a shot with the Devils this season. The 6-2, 210-lb. left wing held his own against tough guys Donald Brashear and Riley Cote during the preseason, and collected 32 penalty minutes in four games with Lowell this season.

Vrana, Lowell's leading scorer last season, is 23, and defenseman Anssi Salmela, who made the Devils out of training camp, turned 24 in August.

Vrana made the most of his appearance in New Jersey's 4-3 shootout win over the Capitals, becoming the 13th player in club history to score a goal in his NHL debut. Zach Parise had a goal and an assist, and added the lone goal in the shootout.

Martin Brodeur made 24 saves and stopped all three of Washington's shootout attempts to post his fourth win of the season and 542nd of his career. Brodeur, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, needs 10 victories to surpass Patrick Roy's all-time mark of 551.

New Jersey's top line Saturday featured Vrana with Patrik Elias at left wing and Dainius Zubrus at center. With the primary assist on Vrana's goal, Elias moved past Scott Niedermayer and into sole possession of the franchise assist record (365).

The second line of Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner remained unchanged, and Brian Gionta filled in on the right side of Jay Pandolfo and John Madden.

Rolston's MRI and X-ray were "clean," Lamoriello said. There is no timetable set for his return. Rolston sustained the ankle sprain when he lost an edge and slid into the boards Thursday in Atlanta... Letourneau-Leblond wore No. 25 in Monday's practice... The start time for Saturday's game at Philadelphia has been changed to 4 p.m.

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