Toronto lost the opener of a three-game road trip Sunday in Ottawa, bringing a two-game winning streak to an end. The Maple Leafs still ended the first month of the season with a strong 7-3-1 record. Toronto, which has missed the playoffs in each of the past six years, didn't get its seventh win last season until Nov. 18.
New Jersey, meanwhile, has lost two straight and four of its last five games and recently capped a four-game road trip with a 1-3-0 mark. The Devils are hoping the possible return of goaltender Martin Brodeur to the crease tonight can get them back on track.
Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts, has been out since suffering an injury to his right shoulder on Oct. 13. Johan Hedberg has made six straight starts since Brodeur sustained the injury in New Jersey's third game of the season. On Tuesday, Brodeur declared himself ready to play in tonight's game, but Devils head coach Peter DeBoer has not yet decided on a starter.
"I felt really good today," Brodeur said. "I told Chris [goalie coach Terreri] that if they needed me tomorrow, I'll be OK to play. We'll see what happens with that."
The Maple Leafs, who have also been forced to use their No. 2 goaltender in recent games, were dealt a 3-2 regulation loss by the Senators on Sunday, as Kaspars Daugavins' notched the game-winner on his first NHL goal. Clarke MacArthur tallied twice for Toronto and Jonas Gustavsson stopped 27 shots in the losing effort.
The setback dropped Toronto to 2-3-0 as the visiting team this season. The Maple Leafs are 5-0-1 as the home team.
Gustavsson has started the last four games for Toronto with No. 1 goaltender James Reimer on the shelf with a case of whiplash. However, Reimer, who is 4-0-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average this season, practiced on Tuesday and is nearing a return to the crease.
Reimer suffered the injury on Oct. 22 and is eligible to return from injured reserve at any time. Ben Scrivens has been backing up Gustavsson, but has yet to see action in an NHL game. Leafs head coach Ron Wilson has not revealed if Reimer will start tonight, or even if he'll be in uniform. With Toronto also playing tomorrow in Columbus, Wilson could opt to give Reimer another day of rest.
In other news for the Leafs, forward Phil Kessel was named the NHL's First Star for the month of October. Kessel leads Toronto and the NHL in goals (10) and points (18) this season.
Toronto also recalled forward Joey Crabb from its AHL affiliate and sent forward Matt Frattin to the Marlies.
The Devils were dealt a 3-1 loss in Dallas on Saturday, as Vernon Fiddler scored the game-winning goal off New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne's skate.
Petr Sykora scored his first NHL goal in nearly two years to account for the Devils' only tally. Hedberg let up two goals on 22 shots in defeat.
With the score tied, 1-1, Fiddler came around from behind the net and threw a pass out front that caromed off Fayne's blade and past Hedberg at the 11:34 mark of the third period.
"We didn't have a lot of luck around the net and they got one," DeBoer said.
New Jersey is 2-1-1 as the host this season and will play four of its first five games in November at home. The Devils will visit Philadelphia on Thursday before returning to Newark for a three-game residency.
The Devils and Maple Leafs split four meetings last season with each club winning a game at home and on the road. Toronto has taken four of seven and five of nine overall in the series, but has lost three of its last four in the Garden State.