New Jersey came up short in Tuesday’s 4-1 home loss to Toronto, and suffered its first defeat since snapping a season-high six-game winless streak last Friday.
The Devils outshot the Maple Leafs, 48-18, but only Jamie Langenbrunner’s 29th of the season found an opening through goaltender Martin Gerber. New Jersey allowed two goals in a 1:19 span of the first period, and trailed the Leafs, 3-0, at the end of one.
“Some mistakes somewhere along the line usually lead to a goal,” head coach Brent Sutter said. “But when you’re in complete control of the puck and you just make a play that’s not there to be made – you try to make something out of nothing – it costs you. That’s not the way we want to be thinking the game. We need to pay attention to detail.”
A come-from-behind overtime victory Friday versus Tampa Bay followed by Saturday’s triumph in Buffalo appeared to have the Devils’ game back in order. But after the stumble to Toronto, Sutter was clear about what adjustments his club needs to make.
“Making sure we fulfill our obligation to the details of our game, and that comes with accountability,” Sutter said. “[Tuesday] night we did some good things too – we had 48 shots on net; a lot of quality scoring chances. At times we allow mistakes to come into our game and we do things that we normally don’t. It cost us four goals [against Toronto].”
Philadelphia’s win over Florida on Tuesday cost the Devils a chance to clinch the Atlantic Division. Any Devils win, overtime/shootout loss or Flyers loss secures New Jersey’s eighth division title in the last 12 seasons.
Jersey's Team hosts Carolina in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
“We still have seven days here to get ourselves ready and we have still have two games to play and we have to take them like they mean something for getting our game in order,” Sutter said. “It’s not like we took big steps back, but we made some mistakes again that we can’t make, that we didn’t make in Buffalo and didn’t make at home against Tampa Bay.”
The Devils could receive a boost from the return of Patrik Elias
, who has missed the last four games with a lower body injury. The veteran left wing has not been skating with the team, but made the trip to Ottawa, where he will be a game time decision for Thursday’s contest.
Elias sits second on the team in points (78), with 31 goals and 47 assists. His return would be an asset for the Devils' efforts to stop the Senators' nine-game home winning streak.
Defenseman Niclas Havelid has missed the last two games, and did not join the team for its final road trip of the regular season.