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Preview: Devils at Maple Leafs

Toronto aims to continue climbing Atlantic Division standings against New Jersey

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

DEVILS (27-33-12) at MAPLE LEAFS (34-23-15)

7:30 p.m. ET; SNO, MSG+, NHL.TV


Devils team scope

New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid will start against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He allowed one goal on nine shots in relief of Cory Schneider during a 4-2 loss against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 6. "They're fast moving with the puck, they're skilled, they make plays," Kinkaid said. "You think you're going to get a shot one second and they look you off and go back door. They're deadly off the rush too, so we just have to keep them in check in our zone." The Devils are 2-10-2 in their past 14 games but are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. "As far as winning games, it's been challenging and hasn't been what we wanted as a group," forward Taylor Hall said. "But these last 10 games are important. I used to think it was clichéd that the last few games were important leading into your summer, but I do think that's true now. It really does give you a sense of confidence, not only as a group but as an individual if you can finish strong."


Maple Leafs team scope

The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division and five points behind the second-place Ottawa Senators. They moved one point ahead of the Boston Bruins after a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start. He's allowed eight goals in his past two games, including four goals on 24 shots against the Florida Panthers in relief of starter Frederik Andersen on March 14. Forward Josh Leivo will play after being a healthy scratch the previous 10 games. He will replace Eric Fehr, who injured his hand/arm after blocking a shot Wednesday. "He's injured," coach Mike Babcock said following an optional morning skate. "Don't know [how long]. He's not here; he stayed overnight [in a Columbus hospital], so when he comes back we'll know more." Forward James van Riemsdyk said the Maple Leafs must be careful to not look past the Devils, who have the fewest points in the Eastern Conference. "We know how important this game is," he said. "Every game, you can't take your opponent lightly. Those guys have some pride over there so you never expect teams to just come out and roll over. We just have to be ready to go." 


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Travis Zajac -- Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi -- Adam Henrique -- Beau Bennett

John Quenneville -- Pavel Zacha -- Stefan Noesen

Miles Wood -- Blake Coleman -- Blake Pietila

Andy Greene -- Ben Lovejoy

Jon Merrill -- Dalton Prout

John Moore -- Damon Severson

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Michael Cammalleri (upper body), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body)

Injured: Jacob Josefson, Steven Santini, Nick Lappin


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Josh Leivo

Morgan Rielly -- Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Alexey Marchenko

Curtis McElhinney

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Ben Smith

Injured: Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)

Suspended: Roman Polak


Status report

Polak was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday for boarding Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand on Wednesday. ... Soshnikov will miss his second consecutive game. "He's all right [but] he's not as good as he normally is," Babcock said. "I don't know if he could be available today. We didn't ask him though, so we'll wait another day and go from there."


Who's hot

Hall has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past six games. ... Palmieri has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his past five games. ... Zacha has five assists during a five-game point streak. ... Blandisi has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past six games. ... Nylander has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) during an NHL career-high nine-game point streak. ... Matthews has three points (two goals, one assist) during a three-game point streak. ... Kadri has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past four games.

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