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Leafs Look To Rebound Vs. Devils

Saturday, 10.01.2004 / 11:01 AM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: New Jersey Devils (20-10-9-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (23-9-8-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are angry. The New Jersey Devils are frustrated.

One of the teams is likely to feel a lot worse after they meet at the Air Canada Centre.

Nothing went right for the Eastern Conference's top team Thursday as visiting Ottawa blitzed Toronto for five first-period goals in an eventual 7-1 rout.

Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson broke his stick midway through the third period and faked throwing it in the stands, obviously poking fun at Toronto's Mats Sundin, who was suspended one game Wednesday for throwing his broken stick into the crowd during a 2-1 win over Nashville on Tuesday.

Toronto enforcer Tie Domi pointed at Alfredsson after the incident, and Alfredsson's actions enraged Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn.

"If you're going to try and show somebody up you better be ready to pay the price down the line," Quinn said.

The Maple Leafs hadn't allowed five goals in a period since the third period of a 6-4 loss to Chicago on Feb. 25, 2001.

The injury-plagued Maple Leafs were missing seven of their best players, including Sundin, goalie Ed Belfour, forwards Alexander Mogilny and Owen Nolan and defenceman Tomas Kaberle.

Belfour is day-to-day with a groin injury, Mogilny will likely miss another six weeks after having hip surgery on Nov. 26 and Nolan is out indefinitely after having laser eye surgery on Monday to repair a torn retina. Kaberle is still suffering from a shoulder injury.

The Leafs, who are 2-3-2 since their 16-game point streak ended with a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 27, received some good news on Friday as Quinn was named coach of the Eastern Conference team in next month's NHL All-Star game.

Despite a closed-door meeting and tirade from coach Pat Burns following their 4-2 loss to lowly Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Devils failed to respond against Tampa Bay on Friday, losing 4-1 at home.

The defending Stanley Cup champions have won just one of their last six games (1-4-1).

"I think we've past the stage where we think we are going to get over it," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "I think it's important for us to realize we are not doing well. We're going to get out of it eventually, but we don't want it to drag on too long."

Defenseman Scott Stevens sat out Friday's game and remains day-to-day with the flu.

STANDINGS: Devils - 50 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Atlantic Division. Maple Leafs - 57 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Patrik Elias, 13 goals and 33 points; Elias and Scott Gomez, 20 assists; Colin White, 46 PIM. Maple Leafs - Sundin and Gary Roberts, 16 goals; Sundin, 27 assists and 43 points; Domi and Wade Belak, 81 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 8): Devils - Power play: 16.7 percent (26 for 156), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.7 percent (121 for 138), 1st. Maple Leafs - Power play: 18.6 percent (38 for 204), 7th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (181 for 212), 11th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (19-11-8, 8 SO, 1.86 GAA); Ari Ahonen (no record). Maple Leafs - Belfour (18-11-5, 4, 2.29); Trevor Kidd (3-1-1, 1, 2.78).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 0-0-2.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 7; Tie, 1-1, OT. At East Rutherford, N.J., Corey Schwab made 27 saves in a rare start to help the Devils to the draw. Schwab was the Maple Leafs' backup goalie during the 2001-02 season and signed with New Jersey as a free agent in the summer of 2002.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 10-4-6-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 11-3-2-2 at home.

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