|NJD||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
If the Toronto Maple Leafs had already clinched a playoff spot, maybe revenge would be a possibility. Given their current position, a win is their biggest concern.
The Maple Leafs could have All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle back in the lineup Tuesday night when they face Cam Janssen and the New Jersey Devils.
The last time these teams meet on March 2 at New Jersey, Kaberle suffered a concussion after he took a hard and arguably late hit from Janssen that sent him into the side boards.
Kaberle - third on the team with 49 points - has missed the last seven games but took part in his first full practice Monday. He will be evaluated by team doctors before a decision on his status for this game is made Tuesday.
"I'll be playing soon," Kaberle said. "The headaches are gone."
Janssen, who averages only one shot on goal every five games, was suspended three games for the hit.
"I think the fact that Tomas is feeling good and things are getting back to normal around here, I think the focus should be on that," Leafs forward Darcy Tucker said. "Not anything else."
Janssen is ready for the negative attention he's sure to get from the crowd at Air Canada Centre.
"You can't let it get to you," Janssen said. "This is going to happen my whole career. I just have to deal with it and play my game."
Toronto (34-28-10), which is 3-3-1 without its best defenseman, is tied with Montreal and the New York Islanders for ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind eighth-place Carolina.
After a poor performance in a 5-1 loss to last-place Washington, the Leafs were much better Saturday in a 3-2 shootout defeat at Montreal.
This is the start of a very difficult stretch for Toronto, which plays its next seven games against teams it is chasing in the standings, including a home-and-home set with Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo on Friday and Saturday.
"We have to bear down and get wins," Tucker said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing now, we have to get two points."
Three losses in four games has cut the Devils' (43-21-8) lead in the Atlantic Division to two points over Pittsburgh and likely ended any chance they had at catching Buffalo.
Martin Brodeur had a rare off game, allowing four goals on 12 shots before he was pulled Saturday as New Jersey lost its fifth straight at home, 7-2 to Carolina.
"When you lose and have good efforts, it's great," Brodeur said. "But we lost to Boston 4-1, 3-0 versus Pittsburgh and 7-2 here, that's not the way you want to lose games. We need to compete better."
Brodeur is 12-13-1 with seven ties and a 2.50 goals-against average against the Maple Leafs. They are one of only two teams (Vancouver) he doesn't have a winning record against.
The Devils probably won't mind playing their next five games on the road, where they are 8-0-2 since a 4-2 loss at Florida on Jan. 27.
New Jersey was without three of its best forwards Saturday as Brian Gionta, Patrik Elias and John Madden all sat out with groin injuries. Gionta will not play while Elias and Madden are day-to-day.
The Devils won the first two meetings with the Leafs this season before Toronto rallied for a 4-3 victory in a shootout on March 2.
|Mar 20 '07||NJD 1 at TOR 2||N. Antropov|
|Mar 02 '07||TOR 4 at NJD 3 - SO||J. O'Neill|
|Nov 18 '06||NJD 2 at TOR 1||P. Elias|
|Oct 12 '06||TOR 6 at NJD 7 - SO||J. Madden|