NHL Hockey: Toronto Maple Leafs at New Jersey Devils – Devils Favored
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New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur recorded his career-best 12th shutout of the season in his last start. On Friday, he’ll try to carry that strong play into a home matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of just two teams he has a losing record against.
Brodeur leads the NHL in wins (39) and shutouts, and ranks second with a 2.06 goals-against average. He made 31 saves in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Pittsburgh to set his career high for shutouts.
Brodeur has 92 shutouts, third on the all-time list behind George Hainsworth (94) and Terry Sawchuk (103). He’s one victory away from his sixth 40-win season.
"Some games you have a feeling that there’s not going to be many goals scored, just by the way the game is played,” said Brodeur, who has twice as many shutouts as anyone else in the league. "We got one early in the second, so we just try to keep it tight. We are used to playing games like that and I thought we played well with the lead.”
Jamie Langenbrunner scored a power-play goal 33 seconds into the second period for the Devils (40-18-6), who have won five of six and finished February with a 10-3 record.
Brodeur would likely feel better with a little more offense when he faces the Maple Leafs, against whom he’s 12-13-0 with seven ties and a 2.49 GAA in 33 starts. Vancouver (6-8-0 in 14 starts) is the only other team he doesn’t have a winning record against.
Brodeur had lost five straight to Toronto (30-25-9) and appeared on his way to a sixth in the first meeting this season Oct. 12. He gave up five second-period goals, tying a career worst for a period, but the Devils battled back and Brodeur stopped three of four shots in the shootout for a 7-6 win.
The 34-year-old goaltender was much stronger in a 2-1 win over Toronto on Nov. 18, stopping 33 shots. Now he’ll try to cut the number of teams with a winning record against him to one and lead the Devils to their third victory in as many matchups with the Leafs this season.
Toronto has dropped four of its last five contests, including a dismal 6-1 defeat to Buffalo on Wednesday, drawing the ire of the crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
"We got our butts kicked tonight,” said Leafs coach Paul Maurice, whose team is 10th in the Eastern Conference. "We got beat 6-1. That’s why we got booed tonight.”
Andrew Raycroft allowed four goals on 11 shots through the first two periods before being replaced by Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Raycroft, who has been pulled from his last two starts, is 2-3-0 with a 3.10 GAA in five career outings against the Devils.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, fifth on the Leafs with 35 points, scored their only goal Wednesday. Toronto failed to score on four power-play opportunities and has converted just one of 18 chances over the last five games.
The Leafs hope the addition of Yanic Perreault will spark the offense after acquiring the 35-year-old center from Phoenix on Tuesday for defenseman Brendan Bell and a second-round draft pick. Perreault had 19 goals and 14 assists in 49 games for the Coyotes, and will try to continue that steady production as he begins his third stint with the Leafs.
He was drafted by the Leafs in 1991 and played his first 13 games with them during the 1993-94 season before being sent to Los Angeles. Perreault was traded back to Toronto in 1999 and spent two-plus seasons there.
"He’s got 19 goals and he’s one of the best faceoff men in the league,” Toronto general manager John Ferguson said.
New Jersey right wing Brian Gionta, who recorded his only career hat trick in the Oct. 12 win over Toronto, is day-to-day with a groin injury and could miss his eighth straight game.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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