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Devils hoping to find offense against Predators

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Jacob Josefson will make his first start in three games Sunday when the New Jersey Devils host the Nashville Predators at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET).

Josefson will replace Stephen Gionta in the lineup. Gionta sustained a foot injury in the shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and is day-to-day. Josefson has no points in four games and Gionta has one assist in 16 matches this season.

Josefson will likely take Gionta's spot as fourth-line center with Ryan Carter and Cam Janssen.

The Devils have strung together consecutive wins just once this season and that trend must change if the team has any hope of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After starting the season 1-5-4, the Devils won back-to-back games against the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Since those wins, New Jersey has struggled to find its offense, scoring four times over the past four games (1-2-1).

"When things aren't going right you just have to work extra hard and not try and be too fancy," Devils forward Michael Ryder told "Just throw as much as you can at the net, go to the net and eventually you'll get some bounces. It's a matter of sticking to the system and when we get to the offensive zone, make sure we get to the net instead of playing to the outside."

New Jersey (4-7-5) will play three of its next four games at Prudential Center, marking the longest stretch of home games in one week so far this season. It begins Sunday against the Predators, who are playing the fifth of a seven-game road trip.

The Devils will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Tuesday before returning home to battle the Los Angeles Kings on Friday and Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

It would behoove the Devils to decide the game in regulation or overtime. They are 0-4 in the shootout in 2013-14 and without a goal on 14 attempts.

New Jersey has lost eight consecutive shootouts, dating back to March 15 at Philadelphia. No player has scored a shootout goal on 20 straight chances, equaling an NHL record set by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009.

"It's been tough [in shootouts], but the goalies have also been good," Ryder sad. "I can only speak for myself. I can't think about what I'm going to do when I go in. When I think about it before, then when I go in and it's not there and I get messed up. So next time I go, I'm just going to wing it and whatever happens, happens. That's my philosophy for the next one."

Ryder, who has one goal and two points in the past two games, is tied for the team lead with five goals.

Devils left wing Patrik Elias (back spasms) didn't participate in practice Sunday and will miss his fifth straight game.

"It's tough with [Elias] out," coach Peter DeBoer said. "You don't have depth of world class forwards here where you can go for without for a long time. He's our best overall player at both ends. But, like I've said, this is someone else's opportunity. Some guys have to take advantage of their chance."

Martin Brodeur, the expected starter, is 6-5-1 with a 2.55 goals-against average and a .906 save-percentage in 12 games against Nashville.

Here's how the Devils lineup might look Sunday:

Dainius Zubrus - Andrei Loktionov - Jaromir Jagr

Damien Brunner - Travis Zajac - Steve Bernier

Mattias Tedenby - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Peter Harrold

Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas - Adam Larsson

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Mark Fayne

Injured: Patrik Elias (back spasms), Bryce Salvador (foot), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Jon Merrill (facial lacerations), Stephen Gionta (foot)

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