By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils return from the NHL All-Star break Tuesday night to face the Sabres in Buffalo.
The Devils have gone 2-7-3 in their last 12 games, a skid that began with an overtime loss to the Sabres at the Prudential Center on Dec. 29.
Despite the recent slide, New Jersey is still in position for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, holding onto the first of the two wild cards.
The last time the Devils were in a playoff spot at the All-Star break was also the same year they last made the postseason — 2011-12, when they were in eighth place overall in the Eastern Conference coming out of the break.
New Jersey has never failed to make the postseason when they were in a playoff position at the All-Star break.
At the All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, Brian Boyle took the injured Taylor Hall’s place.
Boyle became the fourth Devils player to go to the All-Star Game in his first season with the team, joining Hall, Scott Stevens and Hector Marini.
Hall was an All-Star at last year’s game in Los Angeles after being acquired from Edmonton in the offseason. Stevens represented the Devils in 1992 in Philadelphia, after coming over from the Blues as compensation for St. Louis signing Brendan Shanahan the previous summer. Marini played in the 1983 game at Nassau Coliseum after being traded by the Islanders to New Jersey just prior to the start of that season.
The only other non “homegrown” Devils to be selected to the All-Star Game were Chico Resch (1984), Phil Russell (1985), Bobby Holik (1998 and ’99) and Cory Schneider (2016).
On Thursday night, in their final game before the break, the Devils were shut out, 3-0, by the Nashville Predators.
Coupled with a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings on Jan. 22, it was the first time the Devils had been shut out in consecutive home games since December 2008, when they lost 2-0 to Tim Thomas and the Bruins at the Prudential Center and 1-0 to the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury just three days later.
The only other back-to-back shutouts against the Devils on their home ice came in March 1983. Greg Millen made 23 saves in a 3-0 Hartford win at the Meadowlands, and Don Edwards stopped 23 as well for Calgary in a 7-0 victory four nights later.
Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for Nashville, its first shutout against the Devils in club history.
New Jersey has now been shut out at least once by every NHL team other than the Vegas Golden Knights, who they have not yet faced.
The Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild also have one shutout in club history vs. the Devils. Guy Hebert made 29 saves in a 2-0 victory over New Jersey at Anaheim on Nov. 26, 1997, and Josh Harding stopped 19 shots in a 4-0 win for the Wild at Minnesota on Nov. 3, 2013.
On Tuesday night in Boston, the Devils lost to the Bruins, 3-2. New Jersey has now dropped 12 of its last 13 games in Beantown.
The only Devils road win against the Bruins since the start of the 2010-11 season was on Oct. 26, 2013, a come-from-behind, 4-3 victory with the tying and winning goals coming in the final 1:08 of the game at TD Garden.
The longest losing streak in Boston in franchise history is seven games — Jan. 13, 1980, through Nov. 26, 1983, spanning the club’s last five trips to Boston Garden as the Colorado Rockies and first two visits as the New Jersey Devils.
Damon Severson scored his seventh goal of the season in the loss.
Only six other Devils defensemen have scored at least seven goals in a season since the NHL lockout in 2004-05:
• John Moore, 12, 2016-17
• Marek Zidlicky, 12, 2013-14
• Andy Greene, 8, 2013-14
• Brian Rafalski, 8, 2006-07
• Eric Gelinas, 7, 2013-14
• Johnny Oduya, 7, 2008-09
Plus: Apple’s Way. Rookie goalie Ken Appleby, who was called up from the AHL with both Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid injured, has allowed just three goals on 55 shots (a .945 save percentage) in the first three games of his NHL career.
Minus: No Mojo. Marcus Johansson was placed on injured reserve with a concussion after he took an elbow to the head last Tuesday in Boston. It’s the second concussion of the season for Johansson, who missed a month following the the first one back in November.