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Devils' Clemmensen back in Toronto

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com
The most intriguing contest on tonight's nine-game slate will take place in Toronto, when New Jersey Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen gets the nod against his former team at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET, TSN).

Clemmensen, who has won his last four starts while posting a 2.25 goals-against average and .930 save percentage over that stretch, signed a one-year deal with the Devils on July 10 after spending last season in Toronto. The 31-year-old Clemmensen spent most of the 2007-08 campaign with the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

Today, he's gaining praise as the backup to injured starter Martin Brodeur, who could return from a torn left biceps tendon sometime in March. For the season, Clemmensen is 8-3-0 with a 2.43 GAA. Clemmensen had started seven consecutive games before Kevin Weekes got the nod in Saturday's 4-2 loss to Buffalo.

The Devils (16-9-2) have gone 9-2-0 since Nov. 15 and currently stand seventh in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto had lost four in a row to the Devils prior to a 6-5 shootout win in New Jersey on Oct. 29. Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala is 1-3-0 with a 3.47 GAA in four career starts against the Devils.

New Jersey has averaged almost four goals a game during the past month. On Friday, the Devils produced the franchise's best offensive performance in more than three years in an 8-5 victory against the Rangers. Seven players connected en route to registering the highest goal total since Nov. 25, 2005, in an 8-2 win at Tampa Bay.

Other early games feature the Capitals at the Islanders (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2), the Avalanche in Philadelphia, the Canadiens in Carolina (7 p.m. ET, RDS), and the Senators in Atlanta.

Later, the Flames are in St. Louis, the Coyotes visit Dallas, the Blackhawks skate into Edmonton (9:30 p.m. ET, TSN), and the Rangers are in Anaheim.

Here are a few storylines heading into tonight's action:

* Toronto, winner of two straight, last won three straight from March 18-22. Toskala, who began the season 7-6-4 with a 3.33 goals-against average, is 4-3-1 with a 2.49 GAA in his last eight starts.

* The Washington Capitals are 11-for-29 on the power play in their last six games (37.9 percent), and have power-play goals in four straight games. The Capitals ranked as low as 27th in the League on the power play just over a month ago (14.8 percent on Nov. 8), but now are fifth (23.8 percent). The club is the only team in the League with three players with at least six power-play goals -- Mike Green (7), Nicklas Backstrom (6) and Alex Ovechkin (6). More than half of the teams in the League (16) don't have a player with six power-play goals.
 
* The Atlanta Thrashers are struggling at 9-16-4 and have won just one of their last nine games and two of the last 13. Tonight in Ottawa, they look to avenge a 5-1 setback to the Senators at Scotiabank Place on Dec. 3. The Senators' top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza has combined for only four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in the last four games.

* The Philadelphia Flyers are unbeaten in regulation in their last nine games at home (7-0-2), but tonight's opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, have won eight of their last 10 visits to Philadelphia (8-1-1). The Avalanche scored a 5-2 victory against the Flyers on Oct. 16 in Colorado. That win ignited a season-high five-game win streak for the Avalanche, who are seeking their fourth win in their last five games.

* Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has won his last 10 starts against the St. Louis Blues, posting a 2.08 GAA over that span. Calgary has defeated St. Louis four straight times and 11 of the last 12 meetings, including a 4-3 overtime win Dec. 5 in St. Louis. The Blues return home after going winless on a three-game road trip that concluded with a 5-4 loss at San Jose on Saturday.

* Carolina is one of three teams -- all from the Southeast Division -- to use 30 different skaters in games this season. Tampa Bay and Washington also have used 30 this year, and a fourth Southeast team, Florida, ranks tied for fourth among NHL teams in skaters used, with 29. The Montreal Canadiens, Carolina's opponent tonight, only have needed 24 skaters this year.
 
* The New York Rangers' penalty killing unit is ranked first in the League with a 90.7-percent success rate. The Rangers killed 26 of their last 27 power plays, a span covering seven games.

* The Ducks have won five straight home games. Since the streak started Nov. 24, they have earned home-ice wins against Colorado, Chicago, Columbus, St. Louis and Minnesota, outscoring those opponents, 18-8.

* The Phoenix Coyotes face the Stars in Dallas for the second time in a week. Olli Jokinen and Martin Hanzal scored two goals each and Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves as the Coyotes rallied to beat Dallas, 5-3, on Dec. 10. Dallas is last in the Western Conference with 11 wins and 26 points.
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