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Devils play host to Lupul-less Maple Leafs

by Dave Lozo

MAPLE LEAFS (20-13-4) at DEVILS (15-13-9)


Last 10: Toronto 5-2-3; New Jersey 2-4-4

Season series: This is the second of three meetings. The Toronto Maple Leafs won 4-2 at Air Canada Centre on March 4.

Big story: The Maple Leafs were without Joffrey Lupul for most of the season after he broke his arm in January, and they may be without him for a while once again. He took a shot to the head that left him dazed Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Lupul staggered to the bench and did not return. He will not make the trip to New Jersey and the team has not revealed whether he suffered a concussion on the play.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Not only did the Leafs lose Lupul, they also lost 5-3 to the Flyers. It was Toronto's first regulation loss in nine games and left the team in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Without Lupul at the start of the season, the Leafs went 13-11-1 but were 5-1-3 since he returned.

"He's done a lot for us. He's a great player. I don't know how long he's out for but hopefully it's short," goaltender James Reimer. "But if it's a couple games or a couple weeks, we've got to step up in here."

Devils: Since Ilya Kovalchuk was lost for potentially the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, the Devils are 0-2-3 and have had a hard time putting the puck in the net. They have nine goals in those five games, one goal in their past two, and were shut out Thursday by the Boston Bruins in a 1-0 loss.

The Devils have the eighth-most points in the East as of Friday with 39, but are in ninth place because the Washington Capitals lead the Southeast with 38 points.

"I'd be lying if I said we don't know where we are in the playoffs. But we're not thinking about it (every) game," defenseman Andy Greene said following the close loss in Boston. "If we play 11 more games like this, I think we'll give ourselves the best chance to continue to play."

Who's hot: Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin has three goals and two assists in his past five games.

Injury report: Lupul is out for the Maple Leafs, but forwards Clarke MacArthur and Leo Komarov appear set to return from upper-body injuries. … Kovalchuk is out for the Devils. Forward Tom Kostopoulos was out of the lineup Thursday after being knocked out of Monday's game against the New York Islanders after a fight with Matt Martin.

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