(Sports Network) - The slumping New Jersey Devils will aim for their first
victory in two weeks when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Saturday's
clash at the Prudential Center.
The Devils are mired in a five-game losing streak (0-2-3) and haven't won
since recording a home victory against Florida on March 23. New Jersey was
able to gain a point in each of its next three games before suffering
regulation setbacks in its two most recent outings.
The rough patch has coincided with an injury to star forward Ilya Kovalchuk,
who suffered a shoulder injury in New Jersey's last win on March 23 and will
miss a sixth straight game on Saturday.
Without Kovalchuk, New Jersey has fallen to ninth place in the East, but the
club is only one point behind the Rangers and Islanders for a playoff spot.
Both New York teams are in action on Saturday, as the Isles host Tampa Bay and
the Rangers visit Carolina.
The Devils hope veteran winger Steve Sullivan can help the club get back on
track. The 38-year-old Sullivan, who broke into the NHL with New Jersey during
the 1995-96 season, was acquired from Phoenix for a seventh-round draft pick
at Wednesday's trade deadline and he is expected to play on Saturday.
Sullivan has five goals and 12 points in 33 games with the Coyotes this season
and has recorded 742 points (288 goals, 454 assists) over 1,002 NHL games.
"I really didn't see it coming," Sullivan said of the trade. "But it's a great
opportunity. I'm glad to be going back to where it all began."
The Devils are coming off Thursday's 1-0 regulation loss in Boston. Jaromir
Jagr scored the lone goal of the contest in his Boston debut, while Tuukka
Rask stopped all 40 shots sent his way by New Jersey.
Martin Brodeur stopped 25-of-26 shots in the setback.
"Effort is there," New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer remarked. "We played a good
game, just didn't get rewarded for it."
The Devils are playing three of their next four games on home ice, where they
are 10-6-2 this season.
Toronto, meanwhile, will try to get back in the win column on Saturday after
having a three-game win streak halted Thursday by the visiting Philadelphia
The Maple Leafs lost a 5-3 decision to the Flyers and James van Riemsdyk,
John-Michael Liles and Nikolai Kulemin all scored in the losing effort. James
Reimer gave up four goals on 30 shots for Toronto.
"I felt like I was hanging in there and making some big saves, but they got a
couple in," said Reimer. "It was a weird game out there tonight and things
just don't go your way sometimes."
In addition to losing the game, the Maple Leafs also saw forward Joffrey Lupul
leave the contest with an upper body injury after he was sandwiched by
Philadelphia's Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill. Lupul, who has 14 points in 10
games during an injury-plagued season, did not travel with the team to New
Jersey and his status is day-to-day.
Toronto has 44 points and is tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with
Ottawa. The Leafs are trying to end a stretch of seven straight seasons
without making the playoffs. It's the longest postseason drought in franchise
The Leafs are 2-0 against New Jersey this season and have won six of 10
overall in this series. Toronto also has claimed three of the last four
meetings in the Garden State.
The Sports Network