Lupul, Maple Leafs host Devils
Joffrey Lupul registered a hat trick for the Toronto Maple Leafs the last time they played the New Jersey Devils. The Leafs are counting on Lupul to break out again when they host the Devils tonight at Air Canada Centre.
Lupul scored three goals in a matter of 6:42 in the second period of a 5-3 victory at New Jersey on Nov. 2. It was his third-career hat trick and first as a Leaf and Lupul became the first Leaf to score three goals in one period since Wendel Clark on Nov. 9, 1996 versus the Oilers. Darryl Sittler was the last to do it on the road on March 5, 1980 at Pittsburgh.
Lupul is currently ranked fourth in the league in scoring with 31 points -- three behind linemate Phil Kessel -- and has recorded 20 points over his last 16 games for Toronto, which has won five of its last eight games and is coming off Monday's 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Lupul, Cody Franson, Tim Connolly and David Steckel all scored and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson made 30 saves. Kessel ended with two assists in helping the Leafs end a two-game skid.
"We thought we controlled the play pretty good other than some penalties," Lupul said. "I think we got some tough calls in the third, but our penalty- killers were up for the challenge and did a great job."
The Maple Leafs are 6-4-2 at home this season and three points behind Boston for the top spot in the Northeast Division. The Bruins just swept a home-and- home with Toronto from Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Center Mikhail Grabovski (personal) is questionable for Tuesday.
New Jersey is mired in a season-high four-game losing streak and will close the books on a four-game road trip tonight (0-3-0). It is 7-8-0 away from home this season and suffered a 4-2 loss at Winnipeg the last time out on Saturday, as Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias both scored.
Johan Hedberg allowed three goals on 19 shots for the Devils, who suffered their second straight 4-2 loss. Minnesota won by that count on Friday.
"We're at one of those points in the season right now where we're facing a bit of adversity," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer.
The Devils will also host Montreal on the quick residency and should have future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur in the crease tonight. Brodeur was pulled 8:17 into Friday night's game in Minnesota after allowing three Wild goals on four shots.
Henrique has six points during a five-game points streak, while Ilya Kovalchuk owns five points in his current four-game streak. The Devils haven't lost five in a row since a six-game slump from Dec. 17-29, 2010. Forward Cam Janssen (chest) will miss Tuesday's game. He was rushed to the hospital following a hit against the Winnipeg Jets.
New Jersey and Toronto are playing the second of four meetings this season. The Leafs posted a 5-3 victory on Nov. 2 this season and have won four of the last six games in this series.