NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 19th (All times eastern)
New Jersey Devils (24-8-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (18-12-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While scoring hasn't been a problem for the Thrashers this year, the club would like to do a better job on the defensive end. With a Saturday night matchup on tap with the stingy Devils, now might be a good time for that to happen.
Atlanta hopes to end a four-game home losing streak to New Jersey tonight at Philips Arena.
The Thrashers rank third in the NHL on offense, scoring 3.18 goals per game, but are just 23rd on defense because they are yielding 2.94 goals per game.
It was Atlanta's offense that bailed them out on Thursday versus Dallas. Rich Peverley scored a short-handed tally in the third period, then netted an overtime winner 1:16 into the frame after the Stars tied the game with just 1:12 left in regulation.
Maxim Afinogenov set up Peverley's OT winner, one of his two assists, and scored a power-play goal, while Ilya Kovalchuk and Nik Antropov added power- play tallies. Ondrej Pavelec posted 42 saves in helping Atlanta win for the third time in four games.
The victory was also the Thrashers' fourth in their last five home games. They wrap a three-game homestand on Monday versus Montreal, but first must find a way to control the Devils.
"I think going forward into Saturday [against New Jersey], we want to shore up our defense," Peverley said. "We know we can score goals, but it's keeping them out of our net."
Atlanta was able to do that in a 4-2 victory at New Jersey on October 16, just the club's third win in the last nine meetings. Peverley scored twice in that game.
The Thrashers, though, haven't beaten the Devils at home since a 5-4 shootout triumph on January 30, 2007 and faces a New Jersey club that is ranked second in the NHL with just 2.12 goals allowed per game.
Netminder Martin Brodeur has been a big part of that, going 22-8-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average in 31 games this year. Already the NHL's all-time leader in wins, Brodeur passed another Patrick Roy record last night by playing in his 1,030th contest, moving past Roy for most career games played by a goaltender.
Brodeur made sure the milestone was a good one, as he turned aside 27 shots in a 4-2 victory over Ottawa.
"It's all about winning, so in that regard, it's nice to break the record with a win," said Brodeur.
Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo and Bryce Salvador tallied for the Devils, winners of three straight and seven of eight. New Jersey is now tied with Pittsburgh for the most points in the NHL with 49.
The two Atlantic Division co-leaders will meet in Pittsburgh when New Jersey plays the second contest of a three-game road trip that starts tonight. The Devils then wrap the swing with a game in Washington versus a Capitals club that has the third most points in the NHL with 48.
New Jersey is 11-2-1 on the road this season.
12/19 10:42:03 ET