TORONTO – The New Jersey Devils must be wondering when they’re going to catch a break.
For 40 minutes on Monday night, the Devils were in handling of the Toronto Maple Leafs with relative ease—outshooting their opponents 18-10 through two periods and leading 2-1 on the scoreboard.
But the Leafs found their legs in the third and fought back with three unanswered goals to pick up a 4-2 win and send the Devils to their fifth straight defeat.
“Sure there’s frustration,” New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer said. “I think the last two nights we’ve held the other team to 22 or 23 shots on the road. We’re getting a couple of goals a game. When you don’t get rewarded for trying to do the right things with wins it gets frustrating.”
With No. 1 goalie Martin Brodeur our of the lineup with a back problem, the Devils have turned to Johan Hedberg to shoulder the load.
Hedberg didn’t do himself or his team any favours early on Monday, allowing Nazim Kadri’s ninth goal of the season in the first period on a shot from a bad angle.
“It hits the heel of my stick and I put it in my own five-hole,” Hedberg said. “When things aren’t going the way (you want there) are funny things (that) happen and that shouldn’t happen. It’s just a bad goal.”
While goaltending is one issue for the Devils right now, it’s far from the only problem.
New Jersey’s goals on Monday night came from defenceman Marek Zidlicky, while the forwards fired blanks.
“They’re getting opportunities. They’re getting chances,” DeBoer said of his forwards. “We’re outshooting teams. You’ve just got to bear down on your opportunities.”
Despite the losing streak, the Devils still sit seventh in the Eastern Conference and have a chance to get back on track at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
“Obviously we’re disappointed and frustrated but you’ve got to have a short memory,” said Hedberg, who’s gone 0-3-1 in Brodeur’s absence. “There’s a new game tomorrow and it’s a big game tomorrow and we’ve got to put it behind us and get the next one.”