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Devils go back to Hedberg on Sunday against Jets

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer confirmed on Saturday night that goalie Johan Hedberg would start between the pipes when his team faces the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at Prudential Center.

Hedberg was yanked from Saturday's match against the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time in three starts after yielding five goals on 18 shots. Rookie Jeff Frazee replaced Hedberg to open the third period and made three saves on three shots in a 6-3 loss.

"When you look at our schedule we've got back-to-back [games]. It made no sense to keep Heddy in there," DeBoer told reporters after the loss. "He's got to play again [Sunday]. It's our fifth game this week, so it was a decision more about energy than anything."

The Devils are playing their fifth game in seven days, and currently sit seventh in the East with 27 points. New Jersey has lost seven of their last eight games and has been outscored, 32-16, over that stretch. To put the recent slump in perspective, not until the 15th game of the season did the Devils allow their 32nd goal.

Hedberg has started the past eight games and sports a 3.50 goals-against average and .828 save percentage. He's already equaled his loss total (seven) of last season in 15 fewer games.

"It's everyone that is out there and a lot of the times the mistakes happen in the offensive zone, in the neutral zone by the forwards," Patrik Elias said. "When you lose and you get scored on a lot of goals, you look at the goalies right away. But that's not where the mistake has happened most of the time."

New Jersey has allowed the first goal of the game nine consecutive times and the club has had to come from behind in its only three wins over the past 13 games (3-8-2). The Devils did not skate Sunday morning after getting in late from Raleigh. Devils captain Bryce Salvador (upper-body injury) didn't make the trip to Carolina and is questionable to play against the Jets.

Here were the line combinations on Saturday:

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Andrei Loktionov - Ilya Kovalchuk

Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson

Stefan Matteau - Travis Zajac - Steve Bernier

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Tom Kostopoulos

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson

Peter Harrold - Marek Zidlicky

Johan Hedberg

Jeff Frazee

Scratched: Krystofer Barch

Injured: Bryce Salvador, Henrik Tallinder, Martin Brodeur, Dainius Zubrus

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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