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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, December 26th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (15-13-6) at New Jersey Devils (19-13-3), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils try to maintain their grasp on first place in the Atlantic Division when the club hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening in a matchup between a pair of struggling rivals.

New Jersey currently holds a slim one-point edge on the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Atlantic despite having lost five of its last seven games. The Devils' most recent setback came in Atlanta, a 5-2 defeat to the Thrashers on Saturday.

Zach Parise scored both goals for New Jersey, which outshot Atlanta 38-27 on the night but was done in by an outstanding performance by Thrashers goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

In contrast, the Devils received an uncharacteristically rough outing between the pipes from Martin Brodeur, who stopped just 22 of 26 shots.

New Jersey played without leading scorer Patrik Elias, who was scratched after being struck in the foot with a puck during Friday's 4-1 victory at Washington. The star forward is expected to be available tonight.

The Devils will attempt to stop a season-long three-game losing streak at home, where the team is a strong 11-3-2 on the year.

Pittsburgh enters in a tailspin as well, as the Penguins have dropped three straight as questions continue to surround the future of the financially- troubled franchise. The club has been off since Thursday, when it came up on the short end of a 4-3 shootout loss to Atlanta at Philips Arena.

Sidney Crosby once again paced Pittsburgh, with the young phenom notching a goal and an assist in the loss. Crosby, who leads the NHL in points (55) and assists (38), has racked up seven goals and 16 helpers during a current 10- game scoring streak.

Jordan Staal and Ryan Malone had regulation tallies for the Penguins, who had won four in a row prior to this current slide.

New Jersey has won five of the last six meetings in this series, including two of the three games played between the foes this season. Pittsburgh has also suffered a loss in three straight and five of its last six visits to Continental Airlines Arena.

12/26 10:46:54 ET

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