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After sweep of Pens, Devils head to Toronto

by Brian Compton
DEVILS (42-24-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (24-34-12)

Last 10: New Jersey 6-4-0; Toronto 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the final meeting between the teams. New Jersey has won twice, including a 4-3 victory on Feb. 5 at the Prudential Center. The Leafs blanked the Devils three nights earlier in Toronto.

Big Story: After a disappointing loss on Long Island last Saturday, the Devils have responded with back-to-back victories -- including Wednesday's 5-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Newark. With the win, the Devils swept their season series with the Stanley Cup champions. Surely, it will be a fight to the finish to determine the Atlantic Division winner.

Team Scope:

Devils: It's all even in the Atlantic Division, thanks to Wednesday's win against the Pens. New Jersey currently has the tiebreaker with one more victory and also has a game in hand on Pittsburgh, which plays in Boston on Thursday night.

"Winning all six games says we're able to play against top teams and that's important to know when you get to the playoffs," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said after his team swept its season series with the Pens. "You have to be able to play a different style of hockey in the playoffs. I thought our transition game was tremendous, like most of the games against these guys. They are a high-powered offense and even though (Evgeni) Malkin was out, they competed well. We just did the small things around the ice very well."

Maple Leafs: Much like the Devils, Toronto responded following a loss to the Islanders. After suffering a 4-1 defeat in New York on Sunday, the Leafs earned a 4-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday. John Mitchell and Mikhail Grabovski scored 19 seconds apart in the second period and Jonas Gustavsson made 30 saves.

"Since we're not in the playoff picture, we really have not got a lot to lose,'' Mitchell said. "We're a different team (these days) and we didn't want to lose two games in a row the rest of the year, that's something we said.''

Who's Hot: Zach Parise had a goal and an assist on Wednesday night for his fourth multi-point game this month. … Phil Kessel has four goals in his last four games for the Maple Leafs. His 26 tallies have come in 58 games. Nikolai Kulemin has a six-game points streak, while Grabovski has notched a point in five straight.

Injury Report: New Jersey is boasting a healthy lineup. … Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek (shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are done for the season. Fredrik Sjostrom (shoulder) is expected to return later this month.

Stat Pack: Brodeur picked up his 34th career assist and third of the season Monday night against Boston. Tom Barrasso, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992, is the all-time goalie leader with 48 assists.

Puck Drop:  "When you're matching yourself up against the champion, it's a big game. I've been fortunate enough to be on teams gunning for you all year (after winning the Stanley Cup) and it's tough because you're getting the best game from everybody every night. We've had a great focus against them every time and I think we were fortunate to catch them on back-to-back nights (on three occasions), but the biggest thing is we've shown good intensity and focus against them." -- Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner after Wednesday's win against the Penguins
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