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Maple Leafs' Clarkson returns to NJ to face Devils

by Mike Battaglino

MAPLE LEAFS (36-28-8) at DEVILS (30-28-13)


Last 10: Toronto 4-6-0; New Jersey 4-6-0

Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs have defeated the New Jersey Devils twice in a shootout, with New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk scoring the deciding goal in each. The Maple Leafs have not lost to the Devils since Feb. 21, 2012, winning six in a row.

Big story: Three days after former captain Zach Parise returned to play at Prudential Center for the first time with a new team, former Devils forward David Clarkson will do the same for the Maple Leafs.

Clarkson signed with Toronto in the summer as a free agent, one year after Parise left to join the Minnesota Wild. Parise was booed throughout the game Thursday, and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said his friend Clarkson should expect the same.

"Probably. I hope so," Brodeur told "Get him rattled a little bit. It's a pretty similar situation, another guy that went home. Hopefully [the fans are] all over him."

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Clarkson has played in 50 games after signing a seven-year, $36.7 million contract. He has four goals and six assists with a minus-10 rating.

"I would be lying if I said [this game] was something that you don't think about," Clarkson told "I don't know how the fans will act, but I am looking forward to going back."

Clarkson played 8:54 and was minus-2 in Toronto's 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, most of it on a line with David Bolland, who was playing for the first time after missing 56 games with an ankle injury.

"I think that [Bolland] will get better," coach Randy Carlyle said afterward. "I think tomorrow will be a tough game for him, with the back-to-back and having to travel tonight. But that's why he did all the laps and extra work and the conditioning part with our strength and conditioning people prior to this."

Devils: New Jersey lost at home to the New York Rangers 2-0 on Saturday, the second time the Devils have been shut out in the past four games. They have been shut out nine times this season and scored one goal in 11 games.

"We wanted to get back from playing wide open hockey for a while," Brodeur told "Now I think in the last two games we’ve been playing the kind of hockey we want, but when we do that it seems offensively we’re a little challenged."

The Devils are 1-4-0 in their past five and are clinging to Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

"We did it to ourselves," forward Jaromir Jagr said. "We make mistakes early in the season, we pay for it now."

Goalie Cory Schneider will start after Brodeur made 26 saves Saturday. This is the 19th of the Devils' 22 back-to-back sets this season. They are 8-6-4 in the second game.

Who's hot: Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul has four points in his past four games. Forward Tyler Bozak has three in two. … Devils forward Patrik Elias has 15 points in the past 12 games. Jagr has 11 in 12.

Injury report: Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer lost his fourth straight start filling in for Jonathan Bernier (groin), who did not travel to New Jersey. Defenseman Paul Ranger (neck) is out after being injured Wednesday. … Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov (lower body) left the game Saturday. Forward Ryan Carter (upper body) played after missing three games. Forward Tim Sestito (upper body) did not play.

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