Preview: Devils at Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs made a spirited run to close the gap on first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division, running off a 10-game point streak (9-0-1). but things have taken an abrupt turn over the past week. Toronto is mired in a three-game slide and dealing with a major injury entering Tuesday night's game against the visiting New Jersey Devils.
The Maple Leafs have been pierced for 17 goals during the three-game skid, an ominous sign for a leaky defense that received a jarring blow Monday when it was announced that blue-liner Morgan Rielly will be sidelined for at least eight weeks with a fractured foot. "We’ve got to be a lot more consistent, and having these games and giving up the chances that we’re giving up is just not going to get us to where we want to get to," captain John Tavares said after Toronto was trampled 8-4 at Florida on Sunday night. The Devils fired general manager Ray Shero on Sunday, one day after drubbing Washington and just hours before snapping Tampa Bay's 10-game winning streak. "You beat two of the best teams in the league back-to-back nights, prove to yourself you got what it takes in this locker room and that's a lot of fun," forward Blake Coleman said. "On the other side of the coin, a great leader isn't with us anymore and he's the reason we're all in this room."
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: MSG-Plus, TVAS, Sportsnet Ontario
ABOUT THE DEVILS (17-21-7): A season that began with such optimism in New Jersey quickly went off the tracks with the dismissal of coach John Hynes and the trade of former MVP Taylor Hall prior to Shero's firing. "We can’t look at the past anymore. We just gotta focus on the present and what we can control, and that’s trying to build something with the group we have right now and have some success,” forward Travis Zajac said. Louis Domingue started both ends of the weekend back-to-back, stopping 59 of 61 shots.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (24-16-6): Rielly's numbers are well off last season's career-high totals of 20 goals and 72 points but the injury leaves a massive void on the blue line, particularly with fellow blue-liner Jake Muzzin also out with a broken foot. It comes at a time when All-Star Frederik Andersen has allowed at least three goals in eight of his last nine starts and been pulled in two of his last three. “Everybody goes through it. He’s a great goaltender and he’s going to respond greatly,” coach Sheldon Keefe said.
1. Maple Leafs F Mitch Marner, a late addition to the All-Star team, has seven goals and 18 points in 11 games.
2. Devils leading goal scorer Kyle Palmieri sat out Sunday's game due to a lower-body injury.
3. The Maple Leafs recalled D Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Devils 2