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Devils hope Leafs answer to prayers

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario -- The New Jersey Devils aren't looking to play the perfect game tonight in Toronto.

They just need to find a way to play a complete one.

They haven't done that for three weeks, and that's the biggest reason they are 2-5-2 in their past nine games after starting the season 8-1-3. Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss in Buffalo was their fourth consecutive defeat (0-3-1) and left them with just one win in their past seven games (1-4-2).

"We've got to find a way to win some games," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Sunday. "There's some good stuff going on. I think our hearts are in the right place. We're trying to do a lot of the right things, and we've just got to find a way. We've got to do a few more things a little bit better to find that line where we actually win games."

Scoring goals consistently was been one of the Devils' biggest problems, but not their only one. When they found a way to score three goals Saturday for just the third time in nine games, they had too many defensive breakdowns and gave up a short-handed goal.

The penalty kill has been better the past two games, going 9-for-9 after a nine-game stretch during which they gave up 13 goals on 32 opportunities. Their power play continues to struggle, though.

After going 0-for-5 Saturday, the Devils are 0-for-14 with the man advantage over their four-game losing streak with two short-handed goals against and just 2-for-29 over the past eight games.

"That's a mirror image of our game," DeBoer said. "We get one area cleaned up and something else breaks down a little bit. I'm confident in the fact that I've seen when our power play's working and it looks good, it looks dangerous. Just like our penalty killing when I was talking about that last week, I was confident we could get that back. So, it's just a matter of putting it all together."

-- The Devils held only an optional practice Sunday at the Maple Leafs' practice facility as they tried to conserve energy with back-to-back games coming up tonight in Toronto and Tuesday night at home against Tampa Bay.

-- With Martin Brodeur in New Jersey recovering from a back injury, Johan Hedberg will start in net again tonight. Brodeur is eligible to come off injured reserve today, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said Brodeur will remain out through at least Tuesday's game.

Lamoriello said Brodeur's back is better, though, and he remains "day to day."

-- The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2013 C2

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