NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 30th (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (26-13-1) at New Jersey Devils (27-9-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A battle in the race for the Atlantic Division title is on tap tonight in Newark, as the New Jersey Devils host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center.
New Jersey comes into today with a two-point lead over Pittsburgh for the Atlantic lead. The Devils are also tops in the Eastern Conference with 55 points.
The Pens and Devils faced each other on December 21 when they were tied for first place and New Jersey posted a 4-0 victory as Martin Brodeur set an NHL record with the 104th shutout of his career.
The easy win improved New Jersey to 3-0 against the Penguins this year with all three victories coming in Pittsburgh. The Devils have outscored the Pens, 12-2, in this year's season series and New Jersey will host all three of the remaining scheduled tests between the clubs this year.
New Jersey has taken four of five and five out of seven overall in the series, but the Pens do have six wins in their last nine trips to the Garden State.
The Devils have won six of seven and 10 of their last 12 games overall and are coming off Monday's close win over visiting Atlanta. Zach Parise scored a pair of goals as New Jersey edged the Thrashers, 3-2, at the Rock.
Colin White added a score for the Devils, while Martin Brodeur made 24 stops for the win.
"We've just gotta keep it going. Right now, we're moving up and down depending on whether certain teams win or lose, but it's important to keep winning," Brodeur said. "Our next matchup with Pittsburgh will be interesting."
Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador is expected to miss tonight's test with a lower-body injury suffered against Atlanta. New Jersey recalled defenseman Matt Corrente from its AHL affiliate in Lowell on Tuesday to fill in for Salvador.
The Penguins have lost two straight and three of their last four games. Pittsburgh hasn't dropped three in a row since a season-worst, four-game slide from November 5-10.
After losing a home tilt Sunday against Toronto, the Pens were dealt a 4-3 setback Tuesday evening in Buffalo. Drew Stafford notched a pair of goals, including a score on a penalty shot, as the Sabres recovered from a three-goal deficit to down Pittsburgh at HSBC Arena.
Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz scored once each for the Penguins, who led 3-0 early in the second period only to surrender four unanswered goals the rest of the way.
"We've gotta erase this one pretty quickly," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "We're coming out pretty happy with the effort but they buried all their opportunities and we didn't."
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed the four goals on 24 shots in defeat. Brent Johnson is expected to get the call in net this evening rather than have Fleury start on back-to-back nights.
New Jersey is 14-6-0 as the host this year and has won four straight and seven of its last eight in Newark. Pittsburgh is 13-6-0 as the guest this year and had a four-game road winning streak halted in Buffalo.
12/30 10:49:29 ET