New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game Preview #47

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

The Devils head to Toronto after an exciting win at home last night. Can they get three wins in a row for just the second time this season?

The Time: 7:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Radio - 660 AM, 101.9 FM WFAN

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (18-18-9) vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs (21-20-5; SBN Blog: Pension Plan Puppets)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils played an exciting game against the Florida Panthers last night. Fans were on the edge of their seats until the last second (literally) when the Devils got a big 2-1 overtime win. Michael Ryder opened the scoring in the first period with a goal that was almost identical to his goal against Dallas. The Panthers tied the game in the second period with a 3-on-2 goal from Nick Bjugstad. That would be all of the goals during regulation as both Cory Schneider and Tim Thomas were spectacular making 30 and 36 saves respectively. It looked like a shootout was imminent. With just over three seconds left in overtime, DeBoer called his timeout to draw up a last minute play and... it worked! Marek Zidlicky scored with just about a second left in overtime saving us all from watching a shootout. You can read the full recap from John here.

The Last Maple Leafs Game: The Leafs last played on Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. Jonathan Bernier was in net for the Leafs and faced 35 shots while Toronto generated 34 shots. The goal scorers in blue were James van Riemsdyk on the power play and Phil Kessel - both players had the primary assist on each other's goals, as well. The loss was the fourth straight for the Maple Leafs who are looking to get back on track tonight. You can check out the full recap from Pension Plan Puppets here.

The Last Devils - Maple Leafs Game: The Devils last faced the Maple Leafs on November 8th in New Jersey. The Devils played a solid game outworking the Leafs all over the ice and getting 35 shots on net, only to fall 2-1 in the shootout. Cory Schneider was in net for New Jersey while Jonathan Bernier was defending the goal for Toronto. The goal scorers were Phil Kessel for the Maple Leafs and Michael Ryder for the Devils. Van Riemsdyk scored the lone goal in the shootout. For the full recap from that game, you can look back to John's write-up here.

The Goal: Capitalize on a struggling team. The Leafs haven't won since their shootout win at the Winter Classic and have been outscored 14-6 in that span. They also have just four regulation wins in their last 32 games. With that said, the Devils can't take Toronto lightly. The Leafs are rested after having Saturday off while the Devils are travelling to Toronto after a game in New Jersey last night.

Watch out for: Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk lead the Leafs in goals and points - 21 goals and 40 points for Kessel and 16 goals and 33 points for JVR. Both were selected to the U.S.A. Olympic squad. Beyond those threats are Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond, and Nazem Kadri. We also can't forget David Clarkson. While he has been struggling mightily so far this season, he will most likely have a little extra pep in his step playing against his old friends and teammates.

Powerful at home: Special teams have the potential to be a huge contribution tonight. The Maple Leafs have the first ranked home power play in the league with a 28.4% success rate. They have scored 21 power play goals at home on 74 opportunities. This doesn't bode well for the Devils - New Jersey's penalty kill has been struggling away from the Rock stopping just 81.6% of their time shorthanded. The Devils however, have the 8th ranked away power play with a 22.9% success rate while Toronto has the worst home penalty kill in the league with a 71.4% success rate. While the Devils have done all right on the power play when on the road, it's been struggling mightily lately. Hopefully there will be some sort of turn around for that this evening.

Goalie battles: Like the Devils, the Leafs have two goalies fighting for the starting role. At this point, it seems as thought Jonathan Bernier is number one in Toronto - he has played 32 games to James Reimer's 20. Seeing as Schneider started last night, some would expect to Brodeur in net for the Devils tonight but Schneider was outstanding and earned himself another start. This is just the second time this season that Schneider is starting in three games straight, but he has most definitely earned it by allowing just one goal on 56 shots during his last two starts.

1√, 2√, 3? For the sixth time this season, the Devils find themselves looking to start a winning streak of some sort. They have only won more than two games in a row once this season - a three game win-streak in mid-November. Getting this third win would be huge as the Devils start a tough four game road trip this week.

The lineup: After a 64:59 minute effort last night, the Devils need to play twelve forwards and six defensemen tonight. The team is sure to be a bit tired after an exciting win, but will need to come out with some energy and be ready to play a tough game. Having a full four lines would help that cause. Jon Merrill had a tough game last night - I think he could use a night off to watch and learn from the press box. Beyond that, hopefully there will be a few goals scored by players other than Michael Ryder. Of the last six Devil goals, Ryder has scored five of them. Don't get me wrong - Ryder goals are always welcome, but so are goals from his teammates.

Your Take: Do you think the Devils can get their third win in a row in Toronto tonight? What do you hope the Devils carry over from last night's game into tonight? How much of an impact do you think special teams will play into this one? Feel free to discuss your thoughts on tonight's battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the comments section below. Thanks for reading

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