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Rested Leafs try to bounce back against Devils
(SportsNetwork.com) - The well-rested Toronto Maple Leafs try to bounce back from their first shutout loss of the season when they host the New Jersey Devils in Friday's battle at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs had won three in a row, including the first two tests of a three-game road trip, before absorbing a 4-0 loss in Saturday's game in Vancouver. It was the first time Toronto was blanked this season and only the third time the Leafs were held to one goal or less.
"Probably the worst game we played this season," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle on Saturday. "I'm very frustrated with our group and the way we played."
The good news is that with five full days off since that loss, Toronto has been given ample time to recover from Saturday's setback. That time, however, won't be enough to get centerman Dave Bolland back into the lineup. Bolland's left leg was cut on a check in the second period of Saturday's game and he had to have surgery to repair it, leaving him out of the lineup indefinitely.
Bolland, who has six goals and four assists this season, sustained the injury after being checked against the boards by Vancouver's Zack Kassian, whose skate appeared to make contact with the lower part of Bolland's leg.
On Wednesday, the Leafs bolstered their forward depth, which also took a hit when Tyler Bozak recently went on injured reserve, by signing Jerred Smithson to a one-year deal. Smithson had three goals and three assists in 45 games with Florida and Edmonton during last year's lockout-shortened season, and had not found a team to sign with this season until joining Toronto.
The Maple Leafs hope Smithson can help the team put forth a better effort than it had last weekend in Vancouver. Toronto couldn't solve Roberto Luongo at all on Saturday, as the Canucks goaltender turned aside 21 shots to post the 64th shutout of his career.
Meanwhile, Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer was much busier and wound up allowing all four goals on 47 shots. Reimer faced 18 shots in the first period, 12 in the second and 17 in the third.
Toronto, which is 5-2-0 as the host this season, will be back on the road for a three-game road trip, beginning with Saturday's tilt in Boston.
New Jersey is coming off Thursday's win in Philadelphia, as the club halted a two-game skid with a 3-0 decision over the rival Flyers. The win came less than a week after Philadelphia recorded a 1-0 win last Saturday in New Jersey.
Martin Brodeur posted a 22-save shutout to lead the Devils to their fourth win of the season on Thursday. Adam Henrique, Cam Janssen and Jaromir Jagr each scored goals for the Devils, who had been shut out in their past two games, including the defeat to the Flyers last Saturday.
"Anytime you get that first one, especially, to play with the lead, it's a confidence booster," said Henrique. "We just kind of went from there. I thought we did a good job of taking it one shift at a time, and maintaining that pressure off of our forecheck."
On Friday, the Devils will try to win for the first time this season when playing the second game on back-to-back nights. So far this season, New Jersey is 0-1-2 in that situation.
The Devils will go with Cory Schneider in net tonight. Schneider has never faced Toronto in his career.
Also on Friday, New Jersey will play its first game against former teammate David Clarkson, who left the Devils last summer to sign a seven-year, $36.75 million contract with the Maple Leafs. The undrafted right winger has one assist in five games this season after sitting out the first 10 contests due to a suspension earned in the preseason.
Clarkson recorded 97 goals and 73 assists in 426 career games with the Devils from 2007-13.
Toronto has won four straight against the Devils and is 5-0-2 over the past seven meetings between the clubs. The Maple Leafs also boast a 6-0-4 record over their last 10 home tilts against New Jersey.
11/08 10:50:16 ET