Maple Leafs-Devils Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (21-14-3) at New Jersey Devils (16-17-5).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Toronto Maple Leafs try to extend their win streak to a season-best five straight when they visist the struggling New Jersey Devils.
The Maple Leafs have won four straight for the third time this season despite scoring only 10 goals in the current run. They have two one-goal wins in regulation, one in overtime and another in a shootout.
Alexei Ponikarovsky scored in regulation and again in the shootout, lifting Toronto to a 4-3 victory over red-hot Buffalo on Thursday.
Ponikarovsky's shootout goal came on his first shootout attempt of the season.
"We have 23 guys on the roster," Ponikarovksy said. "I got my chance. I'm glad that I put the puck in and didn't fall on the play."
The Maple Leafs also got goals in regulation from Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe, who have provided most of Toronto's offense during its low-scoring win streak.
Tucker has a six-game points streak, tallying three goals and four assists during that span, while McCabe has a four-game points streak with three goals and two assists. McCabe leads all NHL defensemen in goals and assists, with 14 and 31, respectively.
No. 1 goaltender Ed Belfour has won four straight, posting a 2.70 goals-against average during his streak. In his last nine starts against the Devils, Belfour has a 1.09 GAA and two shutouts, holding New Jersey to two or fewer goals in each contest.
Toronto's strong defensive play of late does not bode well for the Devils, who have had trouble generating much offense lately.
New Jersey has lost four of five and 10 of its past 13 games, scoring more than two goals only twice in the last 10 contests.
A weak power play remains a concern for the Devils, who have scored eight goals on 118 chances with the extra man in the last 16 games. That unit, however, has scored four times in the last two contests after going 4-of-100 over a 14-game stretch.
New Jersey went 1-for-8 on the power play Thursday in a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh.
"It was 4-0 before you knew it," Devils center Scott Gomez said. "But give Pittsburgh all the credit. We're a fragile team right now, and they did what they needed to do."
With backup Scott Clemmensen making a rare start Thursday, Martin Brodeur figures to be back in net Saturday. Brodeur, however, has lost five of his last seven games despite allowing two or fewer goals four times in that span.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 45 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Northeast Division. Devils - 37 points, 3rd place, 16 PB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Tucker, 16 goals; McCabe, 31 assists, 45 points and 54 PIM; McCabe, 54 PIM. Devils - Brian Gionta, 21 goals and 37 points; Gomez, 19 assists; Colin White, 45 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.7 percent (51 for 246), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (196 for 243), 24th. Devils - Power play: 14.8 percent (36 for 244), 25th. Penalty killing: 82.8 percent (159 for 192), 13th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (16-11-2, 0 SO, 3.26 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (5-3-1, 1, 2.48). Devils - Brodeur (14-13-3, 2.84); Clemmensen (2-4-2, 3.83).
SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 26; Maple Leafs 2-1. At Toronto, Mats Sundin and McCabe scored in the first period and Belfour stopped 33 shots.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 7-7-2 on the road; Devils - 10-6-3 at home.