Leafs hope to build win streak when they host Devils

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The Sports Network
3/4/2013 11:16:36 AM
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(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs try to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks on Monday night as they play host to a New Jersey Devils team that is trying to avoid its longest skid of the season.

The Maple Leafs haven't won two in a row since Feb. 16-18, a pair of 3-0 wins over Ottawa and Florida, and have alternated wins and losses over their past seven. They found the win column on Thursday, coming through with a 5-4 overtime victory against the New York Islanders.

Toronto nearly wasted the first hat trick of Nazem Kadri's career as it yielded two goals in the third period, leading to overtime. However, Dion Phaneuf scored 71 seconds into the bonus frame.

"They played a hard game and kept pushing us all night," said Phaneuf. "We let them back in it, but I think this was a big character win in that we stuck with it and we're able to pull it out."

Kadri upped his season goal total to eight and leads the Leafs with 21 points, and James van Riemsdyk potted his club-high 12th goal of the campaign.

James Reimer made his first start since Feb. 11, when he suffered a knee injury, and posted 23 stops in the win. He had missed the past eight games.

The Devils, meanwhile, try to avoid a season-high fifth straight defeat as they are in the midst of a span in which they dropped three consecutive games in regulation ahead of Saturday's 4-3 shootout setback to the Buffalo Sabres.

Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier and Andrei Loktionov scored in regulation, but Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk came up empty on their shootout attempts, while Johan Hedberg was beaten twice.

Hedberg ended with 20 saves and Kovalchuk picked up an assist in his 800th NHL game. Loktionov, meanwhile, has three goals and five points in his past five games.

"I thought we played well last game, it just didn't go our way," said Henrique, referring to a 3-1 setback at Winnipeg last Thursday. "I thought we carried that into tonight for parts of the game."

New Jersey has lost all four games since Martin Brodeur has been sidelined with a stiff back. The veteran netminder is currently on injured reserve and won't be able to help the Devils try to avoid their longest losing streak since dropping six straight from Dec. 17-29, 2010.

The Devils have won four of their past six versus the Maple Leafs and have also taken three in a row at Toronto, all in overtime.

Dion Phaneuf  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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