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      ***** National Hockey League Previews from The Sports Network *****
                             Wednesday, January 28
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (22-23-3) AT NEW JERSEY DEVILS (17-22-8), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping for a
 fresh start Wednesday when they emerge from the NHL's All-Star break to visit
 the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
 
 The Maple Leafs limped into the break on a six-game losing streak and dropped
 all six outings in regulation. Toronto's offense has been shut out three times
 during the slide and the club is 1-7-0 since head coach Randy Carlyle was
 fired and replaced by Peter Horachek on an interim basis.
 
 If there is a bright spot for the Leafs, who are 10 points out of a playoff
 spot in the Eastern Conference, it's that they managed to score three goals in
 their most recent outing. The three markers came in last Wednesday's 4-3 loss
 in Ottawa and the offensive output gives Toronto five total goals during this
 0-6-0 slide.
 
 Leafs forward Nazem Kadri is one guy who believes the team is heading in the
 right direction despite the current win drought.
 
 "There are signs of good things here," Kadri told his team's web site on
 Tuesday. "Obviously we're getting losses and it overshadows everything else
 that we're doing. There are a lot of positives and I feel like, despite the
 results, we've taken steps in the right direction."
 
 With some help from Kadri, the Leafs were able to get themselves back in last
 Wednesday's game after falling behind 3-0 to the Senators in the first period.
 Kadri tallied a power-play goal early in the third period to make it a 3-2
 game, but Toronto was never able to even the score.
 
 Erik Karlsson potted the eventual game-winner for Ottawa with 4:40 left in the
 third. James van Riemsdyk made it a one-goal game for Toronto again with 1:23
 remaining, but the score would remain 4-3.
 
 David Clarkson also scored for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer gave up all
 four goals on 26 shots in the loss.
 
 Toronto is just 1-9-0 in January and has lost 14 of 17 dating back to the
 middle of December. The current six-game swoon is the club's longest losing
 streak since a 0-8-0 stretch from March 16-29 of last season.
 
 The Devils, meanwhile, have seen better results since firing head coach Peter
 DeBoer in December, going 5-5-1 since the coaching change. Still, New Jersey
 finds itself five points in back of Toronto in the East and 15 points out of a
 playoff spot.
 
 New Jersey entered the break on a positive note, completing a 2-1-0 road trip
 with a 5-2 win in San Jose on Jan. 19. The Devils hope to carry some momentum
 from the successful swing back home, as they kick off a five-game homestand
 tonight.
 
 Jacob Josefson scored a short-handed goal and added an assist to help Jersey
 slam the Sharks last week. Cory Schneider made 34 saves for the win and Steve
 Bernier, Travis Zajac, Jordin Tootoo and Mike Cammalleri all lit the lamp for
 the Devils.
 
 "I thought everyone stepped up," said Schneider. "We played unselfishly, we
 played together."
 
 Devils forwards Jaromir Jagr and Tuomo Ruutu missed all three games of the
 recent trip due to illness, but both players were at practice on Tuesday and
 are expected to play tonight. However, centerman Travis Zajac is questionable
 for Wednesday after missing Tuesday's practice with an illness of his own.
 
 Schneider will get the start in net tonight for the Devils and he boasts a
 2-0-2 record and 1.93 goals against average in four career games against
 Toronto. New Jersey's workhorse goalie picked up a win in Toronto on Dec. 4 by
 stopping 29-of-32 shots in a 5-3 victory.
 
 With the Leafs also scheduled to play tomorrow night against visiting Arizona,
 Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are likely to split starts over the next two
 games.  Reimer is 4-2-2 with a 2.35 GAA in his career versus New Jersey, while
 Bernier is 2-2-0 with a 2.67 GAA in this matchup.
 
 The Devils have won two in a row over Toronto and have earned a point in their
 last four outings (2-0-2) against the Leafs. Jersey also halted a three-game
 home slide versus Toronto with a 3-2 win at Prudential Center on March 23 of
 last season.
 
 Toronto has lost seven straight on the road overall and is just 7-13-3 as the
 guest this season. New Jersey is 7-7-6 as the host.
 
 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (27-12-8) AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS (24-14-9), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals hope to avoid their longest
 losing streak of the season when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in
 Wednesday's Metropolitan Division battle at Verizon Center.
 
 The Capitals have dropped four in a row (0-3-1) and were handed a 4-3
 regulation loss in Columbus on Tuesday night. Washington's longest skid of
 2014-15 came during an 0-4-1 stretch from Oct. 26-Nov. 2.
 
 Despite its current funk, the Capitals are currently tied with Boston for the
 Eastern Conference's two wild card spots and the clubs are seven points in
 front of Florida for that distinction.
 
 Washington also sits one point in back of the New York Rangers for third place
 in the Metro and is five behind second-place Pittsburgh. The Penguins entered
 the All-Star break on a four-game skid of their own but halted the slide with
 Tuesday's 5-3 home win over Winnipeg.
 
 The Capitals lost their fourth straight road game on Tuesday, but hope to get
 back on track at home, where they own a 12-5-5 mark this season.
 
 After a scoreless first period Tuesday in Columbus, Washington and the Blue
 Jackets combined for five goals in the second. However, Columbus grabbed a 2-0
 lead in the stanza and never allowed the Capitals to even the score after
 that.
 
 Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Troy Brouwer and
 Andre Burakovsky also scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby allowed all four
 goals on 30 shots.
 
 "We just let them take the game to us in the second and third," said
 Burakovsky. "They took advantage of it so that's something we have to work
 on."
 
 It's unclear if Holtby will start again tonight or if Justin Peters will give
 Washington's workhorse goaltender a rare breather. Holtby, who has started 40
 games for the Caps this season, doesn't have good career numbers against the
 Penguins, going 1-4-0 with a 3.40 goals against average in this matchup.
 
 Peters is 2-4-2 with a 4.18 GAA in eight career outings versus Pittsburgh.
 
 The Penguins picked up their first win since Jan. 13 last night, and did so
 without the help of either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
 
 Patric Hornqvist did return to the lineup for Pittsburgh and scored the game-
 winning goal during the third period to help the Pens record the 5-3 win over
 the Jets.
 
 Hornqvist, who missed 11 games due to a lower-body injury, finished with two
 goals.
 
 Kris Letang also came back for Pittsburgh after sitting out the final game
 prior to the All-Star break with a concussion and tallied a career-high five
 assists. He became the second Penguins defenseman to record at least five
 helpers in a game. Ron Stackhouse tallied six on March 8, 1975
 
 "We know we don't have the skill that we usually carry with 'Sid' and 'Geno,'
 but guys played a strong game, a smart game," Letang said. "We held the puck
 behind their D. That's what we tried to exploit and we didn't take any risky
 chances."
 
 David Perron had a goal and an assist and Steve Downie and Nick Spaling also
 scored for the Penguins, who are three points behind the New York Islanders
 for first place in the division.
 
 Backup netminder Thomas Greiss made 19 saves in Tuesday's win. Marc-Andre
 Fleury will start in net tonight for the Pens. He boasts a 16-8-2 record and
 2.44 GAA in 27 career outings against Washington.
 
 Crosby and Malkin are expected to be game-time decisions for the Penguins
 tonight with lower-body injuries. Both players skipped All-Star weekend to
 rest their ailments.
 
 In other news, after Tuesday's game the Penguins announced they had swapped
 veteran centers with St. Louis, sending Marcel Goc to the Blues in exchange
 for Maxim Lapierre.
 
 Lapierre has two goals and seven assists in 45 games this season. Goc has two
 goals and four assists in 43 games.
 
 Tonight's test marks the second of four regular-season meetings between the
 Caps and Pens in 2014-15. Washington posted a 3-0 road win on Dec. 27 to halt
 an eight-game slide in this series. It was Washington's first win over the
 Penguins since a 1-0 home victory on Jan. 11, 2012, but the Caps enter tonight
 having lost three in a row to Pittsburgh in D.C.
 
 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (30-15-2) AT LOS ANGELES KINGS (20-15-12), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - For most of 2014-15 the Los Angeles Kings haven't
 looked much like a team that has won two of the last three Stanley Cup titles,
 
 The defending champions hope a clash against last spring's Western Conference
 finals combatant can get them back in the win column, as the Kings welcome the
 Chicago Blackhawks for Wednesday's battle at Staples Center.
 
 The Kings outlasted Chicago in seven games last season for the Western
 Conference title before L.A. beat the New York Rangers in five for its second
 title since 2012. However, the Cup hangover has hit Los Angeles hard this
 season and the club enters Wednesday's action three points out of a playoff
 spot in the West.
 
 L.A. entered the All-Star break on a four-game skid and is hoping to pick up
 its first win tonight since notching a home win over Toronto on Jan. 12.
 
 The Kings' final tilt before the break was last Wednesday's 4-2 loss at San
 Jose. Logan Couture had two goals and an assist to lead the Sharks.
 
 Dustin Brown scored the only goal of the game for the Kings, who have lost
 seven of eight. Jonathan Quick gave up three goals on 24 shots.
 
 "We've got to do a better job in certain areas," Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr
 said. "You can't afford to give up two power-play goals against and really
 expect to win too many games, especially on the road."
 
 L.A. will take the ice tonight without former All-Star center Mike Richards,
 who was placed on waivers Monday. Richards, a member of both Kings
 championship teams, cleared waivers Tuesday and has been assigned to the
 team's AHL affiliate in Manchester.
 
 Richards, who turns 30 in February, has seen his production decline in recent
 seasons and has just five goals and 15 points in 47 games for Los Angeles in
 2014-15. He was an All-Star in two consecutive seasons from 2009-10 with the
 Philadelphia Flyers and had a career-high 80 points in the 2008-09 season.
 
 The veteran forward is owed $23 million over the final four years of his
 contract and counts for $5.75 million against the salary cap. The waiver move
 lowered Richards' cap hit by $925,000.
 
 Despite winning just once during a seven-game homestand earlier this month,
 the Kings still own a respectable 15-6-6 mark in L.A. this season. The club
 will begin a five-game road trip this Saturday in Boston.
 
 The Blackhawks have won four straight in the regular-season series against
 L.A. and they notched a 4-1 win at the Staples Center on Nov. 29. Chicago has
 claimed three straight and seven of the past eight meetings in the City of
 Angels.
 
 Chicago enters tonight tied with St. Louis for second place in the Central
 Division. The clubs are two points ahead of Winnipeg and five behind first-
 place Nashville.
 
 The Blackhawks won their final two games before the All-Star break. Chicago
 posted a 6-1 home win over Arizona on Jan. 20 before claiming a shootout win
 the following night in Pittsburgh.
 
 Last Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Penguins marked a positive start to a seven-
 game road trip for the Blackhawks and pushed their away record this season to
 14-8-1.
 
 Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each scored during the shootout help the
 Blackhawks down the Pens. Kane and Toews also represented Chicago at All-Star
 weekend along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and goaltender
 Corey Crawford.
 
 Marian Hossa tallied a goal and an assist, David Rundblad also scored and
 Crawford made 33 saves for the win.
 
 "I think we played smart tonight," said Toews. "It's a good road win."
 
 The Blackhawks will continue their trek by staying in California for a pair of
 games this weekend. Chicago visits Anaheim on Friday before taking on the
 Sharks this Saturday.
 
 Quick is expected to start tonight for L.A. and is 6-13-1 with a 2.78 goals
 against average in his career against Chicago. Crawford is 7-3-0 with a 2.56
 GAA in 10 lifetime appearances versus the Kings.
 
 
 
 01/28 10:42:47 ET