NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 26th (All times eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (28-32-1) at New Jersey Devils (38-19-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils will have future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur back in net for the first time since early November when they host the Colorado Avalanche in tonight's interconference matchup at Prudential Center.
Brodeur has been sidelined since he tore the distal biceps muscle in his left elbow on November 1, an injury that required surgery.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner returns on the brink of breaking a couple of league records for goaltenders. He is just seven wins away from tying Patrick Roy for most wins (551) and is five shutouts shy of Terry Sawchuk's 103 career whitewashes.
In Brodeur's absence, Scott Clemmensen, who the team assigned to Lowell of the American Hockey League to make room for Brodeur, took over most of the goaltending duties for the Devils and posted a mark of 25-13-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and two shutouts in 40 appearances.
Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes did an excellent job tending goal while Brodeur was sidelined and helped the Devils overtake first place in the Atlantic Division. With 79 points, New Jersey is four points ahead of Philadelphia in the division and just two points in back of Washington for second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils went 1-2-0 on a recent three-game road trip and ended that swing with Saturday's shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Yann Danis made a career-high 40 saves to lead the Islanders to the 4-0 win at Nassau Coliseum.
Clemmensen yielded four goals on 38 shots for the Devils, who had posted victories in 14 of their previous 17 outings.
Tonight's test kicks off a three-game homestand for New Jersey, which is 19-10-1 as the host this year and has won four straight on home ice. The Devils will also host Florida and Philadelphia during the residency.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, are in the midst of their longest road trip of the season and have gone 1-2 so far on the six-game swing. Colorado is just 11-18-1 as the road club this season.
After beginning the trek with last Friday's win in Washington, the Avs were handed consecutive losses by Carolina and Atlanta. The most recent setback came Tuesday in Atlanta, as the Thrashers posted a 4-3 decision at Philips Arena.
Milan Hejduk had two goals to lead the Avalanche. Chris Stewart also scored for Colorado, while Peter Budaj gave up four goals on 26 shots in the loss.
Colorado also welcomed the return of 23-year-old forward Paul Stastny, who missed the previous 26 games with a fractured right forearm. He played a little more than 24 minutes and had an assist.
The Avalanche are last in the Western Conference with 57 points, but are still only eight points out of a playoff berth.
This is Colorado's first-ever contest at Prudential Center, as the teams last met in the Garden State when the Avs notched a 4-3 shootout win at the Izod Center on December 9, 2005. The Devils opened up their new arena last season.
New Jersey won the most recent meeting between the teams, as it posted a 4-2 decision in Denver on March 15 of last season.
02/26 10:42:16 ET