By John Schweibacher
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New Jersey returns home from its four-game road trip to host the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.

The Devils and Leafs split their four games last season. One of the four was a 2-1 overtime win for New Jersey, which is not unusual for these two clubs as six of their last 12 match-ups have ended in either OT or the shootout.

Toronto’s Phil Kessel, who began the week as the NHL’s leading scorer, has four goals and 12 assists in his career against New Jersey.

Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson is set to play his 10th NHL game Wednesday night. When an NHL rookie under 20 years old reaches 10 games, it counts as a full season on his entry-level contract, moving him a year closer to his next contract and, eventually, unrestricted free agency. According to Lou Lamoriello, Larsson will not be sent down to Albany and because Larsson played in the Swedish Elite League he cannot be sent to a Junior club.

In 1991, 18-year-old rookie Scott Niedermayer was sent back to his Junior team, the Kamloops Blazers, after appearing in just four games for the Devils. Niedermayer played three seasons in the WHL, winning the Memorial Cup in 1992 and playing for a pair of future NHL coaches; Ken Hitchcock and Tom Renney.

The Devils face the Flyers in Philadelphia Thursday night. New Jersey’s season opener was spoiled by the Flyers, 3-0, back on October 8th.

It was the first time in franchise history that the Devils had been shutout in their first game of the season. Here are the five earliest shutouts in a season suffered by the Devils in club history:

·       2011-12  Game 1  3-0 vs. Phi Ilya Bryzgalov
·       1994-95  Game 3  1-0 at Bos (OT) Blaine Lacher
·       2007-08  Game 4  3-0 at Fla Tomas Vokoun
·       1988-89  Game 6  4-0 at Van Kirk McLean
·       1998-99  Game 7  4-0 vs. L.A. M. Legace/S. Fiset

The Devils host the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night at Prudential Center.

This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the Jets relocated to Winnipeg after 11 seasons as the Atlanta Thrashers.

New Jersey went 26-10-8 all-time against the Thrashers but fared much worse against the previous version of the Jets, who moved to Phoenix prior to the 1996-97 season, going just 8-19-8 in games against Winnipeg.

The last time the Devils hosted a Winnipeg Jets team was back on October 12th, 1995 at the Meadowlands. New Jersey came away with a 4-1 win with Martin Brodeur defeating Jets’ goalie Tim Cheveldae. Steve Thomas scored his first two goals as a Devil that night, while Jason Smith and Denis Pederson each scored their first career NHL goals in the victory.

The Devils claimed center Ryan Carter off waivers from the Florida Panthers last week. Carter has scored just 14 goals in his NHL career but the first two came in the same game against Martin Brodeur in a 2-1 Anaheim win at New Jersey on February 8th, 2008.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Carter is one of 50 players who scored their first NHL goal against Brodeur.

Here are the last 13 players, beginning with Carter, who tallied their first NHL goal with Brodeur in-between the pipes:

· Ryan Carter Anaheim at NJD (2/8/08)
·       Kyle Okposo NY Islanders at NJD (3/21/2008)
·       Martins Karsums Tampa Bay at NJD (4/3/2009)
·       Christian Hanson Toronto at NJD (4/7/2009)
·       Matt Gilroy NY Rangers at NJD (10/5/2009)
·       Tim Kennedy Buffalo at NJD (10/28/2009)
·       Carl Gunnarson Toronto at NJD (1/29/2010)
·       Zack Boychuk Carolina vs. NJD (2/13/2010)
·       Jordan Caron Boston at NJD (10/16/2010)
·       Andrew Gordon Washington vs. NJD (12/21/2010)
·       Zac Dalpe Carolina vs. NJD (1/1/2011)
·       Ryan McDonagh NY Rangers vs. NJD (4/9/2011)
·       Matt Read Philadelphia at NJD 10/8/11

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Adam Henrique. Rookie picks up 1st NHL assist in loss at Phoenix and goes 7-for-11 on face-offs against Dallas, giving him league-best 62.0 winning percentage on draws, the best among rookie centers.

Plus: Penalty-Killing at Home: New Jersey is a perfect 19-for-19, killing off opposition power-plays in their four games at Prudential Center.

Minus: Penalty-Killing on Road: Devils have allowed four power-play goals in 16 opportunities away from home, only three NHL clubs have worse road percentages so far this season.

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