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Friday, January 6th (All times Eastern)

Florida Panthers (20-12-8) at New Jersey Devils (21-16-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Patrik Elias joked on Thursday that if not for some injuries, he would have reached his 1,000-game milestone much sooner than tonight.

The Devils certainly aren't complaining.

The 35-year-old center will look to celebrate his latest career highlight with a victory over the Florida Panthers that would help New Jersey avoid losing three in a row for the first time in a month.

Since getting selected in the second round of the 1994 draft by the Devils, Elias has gone on to score 348 goals and log 502 assists while winning a pair of Stanley Cups. He is already New Jersey's all-time leading point scorer with 850 and his 348th goal back on Dec. 17 surpassed John MacLean for the most in team history.

Elias will look to snap a six-game goal drought this evening as he joins Ken Daneyko and teammate Martin Brodeur as the only skaters to reach the 1,000- game mark having played each contest with the Devils.

"It's a lot of games played with one organization and I'm proud of it," said Elias.

"Our team doctor here, he said [Wednesday], 'It's amazing, I watched you since you were 19 and time flies. You're already playing in your thousandth game,'" added Elias. "I said it probably would've been a lot sooner if I didn't miss time with injuries. But that's the way it goes, that's part of hockey, and I'm happy to even get that milestone."

While it will be a special night for Elias, it will be even better if the Devils can bounce back from Wednesday's 6-1 loss to Boston. David Clarkson scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season and Martin Brodeur was tagged for all six goals -- including three in the third period -- on 27 shots.

New Jersey has lost two in a row and will look to avoid its first three-game slide since dropping four straight from Nov. 26-Dec. 3.

"We just got our butts kicked out there. You can't really sugarcoat it any other way," said Brodeur. "I think they really dictated the game, the way it was going to be played, and it didn't look like we had any answer for them."

New Jersey did play a second straight game without Anton Volchenkov due to a lower-body issue, while Travis Zajac sat out with a sore Achilles. He missed the first 30 games of the season due to offseason surgery on the tendon.

The Panthers come into this game with a four-point lead over the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division after picking up a point last night in a 3-2 overtime loss to the hosting Rangers.

Scott Clemmensen made 38 saves in an attempt to hold off a constant Rangers attack, but was bested by New York forward Marian Gaborik with 1:31 left in the extra session.

"We spent a lot of time working in the defensive zone instead of creating in the offensive zone," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said.

Playing for the first time since Nov. 15 because of an upper-body injury, Marcel Goc scored and Mike Santorelli also lit the lamp. Mikael Samuelsson assisted on both goals for the Panthers, who have lost five of seven and have been outscored 23-7 over a five-game slide on the road (0-2-3).

Florida is eligible to have forward Krys Barch back in the lineup tonight after he served a one-game suspension on Thursday for an inappropriate comment made towards Montreal's P.K. Subban on Saturday.

The Panthers and Devils are meeting for the third time this season after splitting a pair of meetings in Florida. The Panthers logged a 4-3 win back in November before suffering a shootout loss on Dec. 13 thanks to Ilya Kovalchuk's winner in the tiebreaker.

Florida has lost four of six and 10 of its last 13 at New Jersey.

01/06 10:56:08 ET


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