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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 11th (All times eastern)

Florida Panthers (11-14-6) at New Jersey Devils (21-7-1), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The sizzling New Jersey Devils will aim for a fifth consecutive victory when they welcome the sliding Florida Panthers for a clash at Prudential Center.

In addition to winning four in a row, the Devils have also posted victories in seven of their last eight outings and are currently tied with Pittsburgh for first in the Atlantic Division with 43 points.

The Devils are off to the best start in franchise history through 29 games. Head coach Jacques Lemaire, who was re-hired this summer for a second stint with the franchise, was also the man behind the bench for New Jersey in 1997-98, when that club set the original record with 40 points through 29 games.

New Jersey recently opened a five-game homestand with Wednesday's victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Andy Greene had a pair of goals to lead the home team to the 4-2 decision.

Patrik Elias and Rob Niedermayer also scored, while Zach Parise had two assists for the Devils. Jamie Langenbrunner added an assist to give him two goals and five helpers during a six-game point streak.

Martin Brodeur was coming off a 22-save shutout of Buffalo on Monday, which pulled him even with Terry Sawchuk for the NHL's career shutout record. He allowed two goals Wednesday in his bid to pass the Hall-of-Famer, but stopped 21 in the victory.

"We definitely made it harder than it should have been," Brodeur said. "But I thought we showed a lot of character, when they scored the second goal, to really shut them down. After that, they didn't get many chances to score."

New Jersey is 10-5-0 as the host this year and has won three straight and nine of its last 10 at the Rock.

Unlike the Devils, Florida comes into tonight's contest trying to halt an extended cold streak.

The Panthers have lost four straight and nine of their last 10 games and were shut out in their most recent outing Wednesday in Columbus. Steve Mason stopped 32 shots to earn his first shutout of the season and lead the Blue Jackets to a 3-0 triumph at Nationwide Arena.

Tomas Vokoun did well in turning aside 29-of-31 shots, but he couldn't get Florida back in the win column. The Panthers have scored a total of five goals in four games since recording their last victory in a 6-5 win over Colorado on December 2.

Tonight's test marks the second stop on a four-game road trip for Florida, which is 7-8-1 as the visiting team this season.

The Devils recorded a 3-2 regulation win in Florida on October 10 and have taken four of their last five meetings with the Panthers. Florida has also been defeated in two straight and eight of its last nine road games against New Jersey.

12/11 10:38:18 ET

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