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Devils' Cammalleri expected to return vs. Hurricanes

by Mike G. Morreale

HURRICANES (9-20-4) at DEVILS (12-17-6)


NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils left wing Mike Cammalleri, who has sat out the past four games with a groin injury, is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center.

Cammalleri, who leads the Devils in goals (11), power-play goals (five) and game-winning goals (three), will be a welcomed addition; the Devils have scored four times and have been shut out twice in the past four games without him.

"I think I'll be good to go," Cammalleri said. "I practiced [Monday] and felt good, and I'm excited to get back. I don't think I'll have too must rust; I'll be able to handle it."

Cammalleri, 32, was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 13 and can be removed at any time; that will likely happen prior to puck drop. He practiced Monday and stayed off the ice for the morning skate Tuesday. He's expected to join center Scott Gomez and right wing Jaromir Jagr on the top line.

Each team is looking to build a little momentum heading into the Christmas break. The Devils, 14th in the Eastern Conference with 12 wins and 30 points, are 3-5-2 in the past 10 games. The Hurricanes, last in the Eastern Conference with nine wins and 22 points, are 2-7-1 in the past 10.

The Devils haven't won two in a row, home or away, since Nov. 11-14 (Minnesota Wild/Washington Capitals) and the Hurricanes' last win on the road was Nov. 28 in Pittsburgh. Carolina has lost four straight away from PNC Arena, scoring one or fewer each game.

The Devils have won eight of the past 10 games against the Hurricanes at Prudential Center. Devils coach Peter DeBoer will start goaltender Cory Schneider, who is 4-1-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average in five career games against the Hurricanes. Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin will make his fourth career appearance against the Devils. He is 1-1-0 with a 3.96 GAA and .861 save percentage against New Jersey.

Khudobin, who will be making consecutive starts for the first time since Oct. 16-21, is 0-8-2 with a 2.91 GAA and .900 save percentage in 10 games.

"Anton played really well against the New York Rangers over the weekend and we're going to go right back to him," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We haven't scored a lot of goals when he's in net but we haven't scored a lot of goals in general. He deserves the start."

Peters will be without forward Alexander Semin (upper body) but left wing Brendan Woods, 22, will make his NHL debut. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound left wing is tied for fourth on the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League with 13 points (6 goals) in 29 games.

"He's played well in Charlotte; he plays a strong North-South game," Peters said. "He's a big guy and skates well, plays physical."

The game against the Hurricanes is the second of four straight against teams in the Metropolitan Division for the Devils, who are 4-7-2 (1-2-1 at home) against Metropolitan foes.

Here are the projected lineups:


Nathan Gerbe - Eric Staal - Chris Terry

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Patrick Dwyer - Riley Nash - Brad Malone

Brendan Woods - Jay McClement - Zach Boychuk

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Ron Hainsey - John-Michael Liles

Tim Gleason - Michal Jordan

Anton Khudobin

Cam Ward

Scratched: Brett Bellemore

Injured: Jordan Staal (leg), Andrej Nestrasil (upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body), Alexander Semin (upper body)


Mike Cammalleri - Scott Gomez - Jaromir Jagr

Adam Henrique - Travis Zajac - Michael Ryder

Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Tim Sestito - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Jon Merrill

Seth Helgeson - Marek Zidlicky

Adam Larsson - Peter Harrold

Eric Gelinas

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: None

Injured: Dainius Zubrus (leg lacerations), Jacob Josefson (groin), Bryce Salvador (lower body), Damon Severson (left ankle), Ryane Clowe (head), Patrik Elias (illiness), Martin Havlat (illness)

Status report: Elias and Havlat did not practice and will not play. They were each tested for mumps Monday but no update was provided by DeBoer. … Jordan Staal was on the ice for Carolina's optional skate Tuesday but remains day-to-day. Peters hopes to have him back against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 27.

Who's hot: Rask and Terry are tied for 19th among NHL rookies with nine points apiece. Rask has five goals and four assists for the Hurricanes.

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