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Devils at Maple Leafs preview

New Jersey forward Zajac to make season debut; Toronto center Matthews will miss fourth straight game

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

DEVILS (11-4-2) at MAPLE LEAFS (12-7-0)

7 p.m. ET; TSN4, MSG, NHL.TV


The Game

Center Auston Matthews will miss his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury when the Toronto Maple Leafs play the New Jersey Devils at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs are 3-0-0 without Matthews in the lineup and on a four-game winning streak.

Devils center Travis Zajac will make his season debut after missing the first 17 games recovering from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle on Aug 17. The Devils are on a two-game winning streak after going winless (0-2-2) in their previous four games.


Players to watch

Devils forward Miles Wood had a hat trick and one assist in a 7-5 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. He scored twice in a 6-3 win against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Oct 11.

Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner has seven points (goal, six assists) in his past five games after going without a point in his previous five.


They said it

"I get it every year and especially the first game this season I'm sure I'll have some nerves but it's all good." -- Devils center Travis Zajac

"There's so much focus on it. We obviously try to focus on what we can do and we know the medical staff and Auston are doing what they can to get healthy. We know we don't have to force him in right now, which is great so we don't have to rush him which could make it worse." -- Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen on playing without Matthews


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Nico Hischier -- Kyle Palmieri

Jesper Bratt -- Travis Zajac -- Drew Stafford

Adam Henrique -- Brian Boyle -- Miles Wood

Brian Gibbons -- Blake Coleman -- Stefan Noesen

Andy Greene -- Steven Santini

John Moore -- Damon Severson

Will Butcher -- Ben Lovejoy

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Jimmy Hayes, Dalton Prout, Pavel Zacha

Injured: Marcus Johansson (concussion), Mirco Mueller (fractured collarbone)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- Patrick Marleau -- Connor Brown

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Matt Martin -- Dominic Moore -- Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Andreas Borgman -- Connor Carrick

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Josh Leivo, Roman Polak

Injured: Auston Matthews (upper body)


Status report

Soshnikov, who was recalled from Toronto of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will make his season debut.


Stat pack

Hischier has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past six games. Schneider has allowed three goals or fewer in five of his past six starts and is 3-2-1 during that span. … Rielly has five points (one goal, four assists) during a four-game point streak. Marleau has scored in each of his past three games and has four points (three goals, assist) during a four-game point streak.

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