Devils heating up as struggling Leafs come to town
After firing their general manager between wins over the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, the New Jersey Devils visit the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday pursuing their third straight victory.
The Maple Leafs will be trying to avoid a fourth straight defeat after a humiliating 8-4 road loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.
After an impressive 5-1 road victory over the Capitals on Saturday, the Devils learned Sunday before their 3-1 home win over the Lightning that general manager Ray Shero had been fired. He was replaced on an interim basis by Tom Fitzgerald.
"I don't think anyone saw it coming, especially so close to game time," Devils coach Alain Nasreddine said. "So, yeah, it was shocking to hear and to find out."
Devils managing partner Josh Harris addressed the players before the game Sunday.
"He just mentioned that they were committed to winning, and I think everyone is," Devils center Travis Zajac said. "It's like I said, for whatever reason, we didn't start the season like we probably all thought we could've and should've, and now we're where we're at."
John Hynes had been fired as Devils coach on Dec. 3.
Zajac scored what proved to be the winning goal Sunday. Captain Andy Greene and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils.
Louis Domingue stopped 26 shots against his former team as the Devils stopped the Lightning's 10-game winning streak. Domingue, who was making his seventh start of the season Sunday, also played Saturday and made 33 saves.
"I feel we have beaten a lot of good teams lately," Zajac said. "Those games feel good when you do it. It just gives you confidence when you know you can play against some of these elite teams that are Stanley Cup contenders."
The Devils recalled Cory Schneider from Binghamton Sunday and sent fellow goaltender Evan Cormier to the American Hockey League team. Kyle Palmieri, who leads New Jersey with 16 goals, was out Sunday with a lower-body injury.
The Maple Leafs have lost three consecutive games (0-2-1) for the first time since Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as the team's coach. The Maple Leafs are 15-6-2 under Keefe.
"You take it as what it is, a good slap in the face and a good reminder of how we can't play if we have any intention at all of being a successful team," Keefe said after the game Sunday. "A big step backwards for us here today, defensively."
No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 12 shots Sunday and was replaced in the second period Sunday by Michael Hutchinson for the second time in three games.
"We've got guys diving in, we've got people leaving our goalies out to dry," said Maple Leafs right winger Mitch Marner, who scored two goals Sunday.
"It's been too many games now. It's unfair to a guy (Andersen) that's been with us for the last four years. He's been our backbone for the whole time."
Maple Leafs left winger Andreas Johnsson (leg) was activated from injured reserve Sunday after missing 15 games. Defenseman Jake Muzzin (fractured foot), who has missed the prior seven games, was placed on long-term injured reserve.
Toronto recalled defenseman Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on Monday. Later on Monday, they announced that defenseman Morgan Rielly will be out at least eight weeks after a CT scan revealed a broken foot.
--Field Level MediaHome