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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, February 17th (All times eastern)

New Jersey Devils (37-17-3) at Florida Panthers (28-20-8), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The sizzling New Jersey Devils will kick off a three-game road trip tonight when they visit the Florida Panthers for a showdown at BankAtlantic Center.

The Devils have won four straight, five of six and 13 of their last 15 games. New Jersey is leading the Atlantic Division with 77 points and is also tied with Washington for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Jersey has a solid 18-7-2 record as the visiting club this season and has won its last seven road contests.

In injury news, the Devils could have franchise goaltender Martin Brodeur back the next time it plays a home game, as the future Hall-of-Famer practiced on Saturday for the first time since suffering an elbow injury in early November. Scott Clemmensen has done a stellar job as the No. 1 goaltender in Brodeur's absence, as he's posted a 25-11-1 record this season.

New Jersey head coach Brent Sutter has stated that he won't use Brodeur until the team returns from the current road trip. That means, at the earliest, Brodeur will be back between the pipes in the club's home test against Colorado on February 26.

The Devils recorded a thrilling victory Sunday against visiting San Jose, beating the Western Conference-leading Sharks by a 6-5 score at Prudential Center. David Clarkson scored twice, including the game-winning goal with 3:32 left in the third period, to lift the Devils.

Brian Rolston and Brian Gionta each had a goal and two assists, while Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias had a goal and a helper apiece for the Devils.

Clemmensen, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts of Boston and the New York Rangers, stopped 27-of-32 shots for New Jersey.

The Devils were without left wing Brendan Shanahan, who was nursing a foot injury, while defenseman Paul Martin missed the contest with upper-body soreness. Both players are day-to-day and questionable for tonight's contest.

The Panthers, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak halted their last time out, as they dropped a 4-2 decision this past Sunday against visiting Washington. Alex Ovechkin's hat trick, which included the game-winner with 2:31 left in the third period, sent the Capitals past the Panthers.

Michael Frolik and Nathan Horton scored for Florida. Tomas Vokoun recorded 29 saves in the loss for Florida, which has still won seven of 10 with a 12-4-3 mark since January 1.

The Panthers haven't made the postseason since 2000, but are currently tied with Buffalo for the final two playoff seeds in the East.

Tonight's test marks the third segment of a five-game homestand for Florida, which is 15-7-5 as the host this season.

The Devils are 2-0 against Florida this season, picking up a 3-1 win in Newark on November 20 before earning an overtime victory just six days later in Florida. New Jersey has taken three of four, five of seven and seven of the last 10 meetings with the Panthers. The Devils have also taken 12 out of 15 on the road in this series.

02/17 10:58:58 ET


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