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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 1st (All times eastern)

New Jersey Devils (47-25-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (41-27-8), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A season worst losing streak has just about ended New Jersey's chance at the Eastern Conference's top seed. If the team doesn't turn things around soon, their reign at the top of the Atlantic Division could be in trouble as well.

The Devils hope to snap a five-game losing streak in tonight's battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

With a playoff spot already locked up, New Jersey had been challenging Boston for the conference's top seed but has now fallen 10 points back of the Bruins with six games to play.

Now the Devils need to hold off the Flyers, who have a game in hand on New Jersey and trail by six points for the lead in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia plays in Toronto tonight.

New Jersey, which hasn't dropped six straight since November 2-14, 2000, has netted just six goals over its longest skid of the season and failed to find the scoresheet in Monday's 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers. Martin Brodeur made 34 saves and fell to 1-4-1 since becoming the NHL's all-time wins leader.

Brodeur has been in net for all five of New Jersey's losses and has posted a 3.18 goals against average in that span. Zach Parise, meanwhile, is second in the league with 42 goals but has just one over the last five games.

The Devils have also dropped five straight on the road and are 21-14-3 as the guest this season.

While New Jersey failed to light the lamp versus the Rangers, the Penguins hit the ice for the first time since a 4-3 victory over New York on Saturday. Sidney Crosby guided his team to the win, scoring the game-winner in the third period.

Crosby has at least a point in each of the last 15 games he has played in, recording eight goals and 17 assists over that run. He is second in the NHL in assists with 68, trailing only teammate Evgeni Malkin's 74. Crosby has 30 points in 25 career games versus the Devils, including four goals and two assists in five contests this year.

Malkin, meanwhile, has a goal and six helpers versus New Jersey this year and his assist versus the Rangers over the weekend gave him a career-best and NHL- high 107 points on the season. Malkin is just two points shy of 300 for his career.

Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal and two assists versus New York, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves.

With six games to play, the Penguins find themselves sixth overall in the East, a point back of Carolina and two behind Philadelphia.

The Penguins are 5-1-1 so far on an eight-game homestand that ends tonight and have won the last two on the residency. Overall, Pittsburgh is 23-13-3 as the host this year and begins a three-game road trip with a big test in Carolina on Saturday.

New Jersey has won three of the five meetings in the season series this year, splitting the two matchups in Pittsburgh. Tonight is the final meeting of the regular season between the Devils and Penguins.

04/01 17:47:49 ET


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