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Devils set to open road trip vs. Maple Leafs

by Mike Battaglino

DEVILS (19-18-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-20-5)


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

Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs won 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 8. The New Jersey Devils tied the game with 4:45 remaining in the third period on a goal by Michael Ryder.

Big story: Devils goalie Cory Schneider will start his third straight game after allowing one goal over the prior two. He's coming off a 2-1 shootout win Saturday against the Florida Panthers. He shut out the Dallas Stars 1-0 Thursday.

"We're going to be playing back-to-back, so we have to find our energy," Schneider told MSG Network. "It's a tough place to play. I know they haven't been doing as well as they'd like, so they're going to be energized and ready to go. I think sometimes on those back-to-back road games you sort of have to weather the storm early and get your legs under you and just sort of go off adrenaline after that."

Team Scope:

Devils: New Jersey will try to go two games over .500 for the first time this season. The prior time the Devils were one over, they lost the next three.

New Jersey's past four wins are by scores of 2-1, 2-1, 1-0, and 2-1 in overtime Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

"We don't have to change anything, we just have to make sure we score on the chances we get," forward Jaromir Jagr said. "... They play a pretty wide-open game, so we're going to get opportunities to score. We just have to make sure we score."

Maple Leafs: The Toronto Globe & Mail unveiled a chart this week that showed Toronto has the fewest regulation/overtime wins -- five -- in the NHL since Nov. 1. Its 27 points since then trail only the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres, who with the Edmonton Oilers are the bottom three teams in the overall League standings.

Toronto is 11-16-5 since Halloween, falling from first in the Eastern Conference to 10th.

"At the end of the day, we're all here to win hockey games, and we haven't done a good enough job of that obviously, over this last stretch here," forward James van Riemsdyk told the Maple Leafs website Friday. "Again, they key is to stick with it, because once it starts getting negative it's a tough hill to climb at that point."

Perhaps they are building off what may have been a rock-bottom 6-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The Maple Leafs led the Washington Capitals 2-1 in the third period Friday before losing 3-2, their fourth in a row.

"Sports has a way of evening things out," coach Randy Carlyle said. "... If you continue to work and continue to push forth with the effort that we had tonight and play a team game, and play as desperate, and execute to the level, shore up in our discipline, we will give ourselves a much better chance to win hockey games than we have been."

Toronto has been outscored 21-7 during this losing streak.

"There's always going to be challenges throughout the year, and it's about how you respond to that," van Riemsdyk said. "There's going to be no sulking done by us, throwing a pity party or feeling sorry for ourselves. We know what we need to do."

Who's hot: Jagr, with an assist Saturday, broke a tie with Mario Lemieux and is seventh in NHL history with 1,724 points. Jagr's next goal would be No. 695, breaking a tie for seventh place with Mark Messier. Ryder is on a four-game goal streak; linemate Ryane Clowe has an assist in three straight. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who scored the OT winner against Florida, has nine points in 10 games. … The Maple Leafs line of van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel combined for two goals and five points Friday.

Injury report: Devils forwards Patrik Elias (upper body), Jacob Josefson (virus) and Damien Brunner(knee) are out. Coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday he did not know if Elias would travel on this four-game road trip. Defenseman Peter Harrold (foot) has resumed skating. … Maple Leafs forwards Dave Bolland (ankle) and Trevor Smith (hand) are on injured reserve.

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