Devils-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: New Jersey Devils (15-15-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (18-14-3).
TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
If Lou Lamoriello didn't know his New Jersey Devils were having trouble scoring as the team's general manager, he should be well aware of that now as the team's coach.
The struggling Devils hope to give Lamoriello his second victory behind the bench when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season.
New Jersey has lost two of three games since Lamoriello took over as coach of the Devils following Larry Robinson's sudden resignation, and eight of 10 overall (2-5-3). The Devils have scored only five goals in those three games, three including one into an empty net, coming in Lamoriello's only win Tuesday over the New York Rangers.
Rookie Michael Garnett stopped 29 shots for his first NHL shutout Friday as the Atlanta Thrashers became the first team this season to shut out the Devils, 1-0.
"It's a tough one to lose. We're getting a team at home who's playing on back-to-back nights. We have to be able to get those games," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "One little breakdown on our defense and they scored on it and that was it. It's a disappointing loss."
A larger problem for New Jersey is its lifeless power play, which went 0-for-8 Friday and has converted only four times in the past 94 opportunities over 13 games.
"The power play has been our Achilles' heel for a while now," Lamoriello said. "We had our chances. It's just not going in."
While right wing Brian Gionta, a U.S. Olympic team selection, is having a breakout season, the rest of the Devils' forwards are struggling to generate much offense.
Gionta (19) and veteran Alexander Mogilny (12) are the only Devils in double digits in goals.
By comparison, Toronto has five players with 10 or more goals. The Detroit Red Wings lead the league with seven.
The Maple Leafs will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this month after a 2-1 victory Friday over the Boston Bruins.
Bryan McCabe and Darcy Tucker scored power-play goals for the Leafs, winners of three straight at home.
The power-play goals were a good sign for Toronto, which went just 6-for-47 with the extra man while losing five of seven before Friday's victory.
"We've had a tough couple of weeks here. We needed a win here to get our confidence going," McCabe said.
Toronto is 6-3-1 in its last 10 home games against New Jersey.
STANDINGS: Devils - 35 points, 4th place, 12 PB, Atlantic Division. Maple Leafs - 39 points, 4th place, 12 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Gionta, 19 goals and 35 points; Gionta, Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski, 16 assists; Colin White, 41 PIM. Maple Leafs - Tucker, 15 goals; McCabe, 30 assists and 42 points and 50 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 25): Devils - Power play: 14.6 percent (32 for 220), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (150 for 180), 10th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.8 percent (48 for 231), 5th. Penalty killing: 80.4 percent (181 for 225), 25th.
GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (13-12-3, 0 SO, 2.90 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-3-2, 3.54). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (14-11-2, 3.37); Mikael Tellqvist (4-3-1, 1, 2.54).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1-2.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 28, 2004; Maple Leafs, 3-0. At Toronto, Belfour stopped 17 shots for his 71st career shutout and Toronto scored three first-period goals.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 6-9-2 on the road; Maple Leafs - 12-7-1 at home.