Devils need a win in Pittsburgh
New Jersey (34-35-4)
Last 10 Games: Devils 6-4; Penguins 6-2-2
Slowed in their pursuit of the greatest comeback in NHL history, the Devils take their act to Pittsburgh hoping to keep their slim playoff chances alive. New Jersey appears to have hit a wall with three losses in the last four games. However, the Devils aren’t dead yet, but their playoff hopes are now hanging by a thread.
If they can pick up two point against the Penguins coupled with a Buffalo Sabres loss to the Florida Panthers they have a potential to gain 4 points in 2 days. The Devils trail the Sabres by nine points for the eighth and final playoff spot. The two teams meet for a pivotal showdown on Saturday.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the first goal of the game for the Devils in their 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. New Jersey hopes Kovalchuk can get hot just in time for this last desperate push. Rookies Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby have 6 points each in the Devils last half-dozen games. Tedenby is the team’s rookie scoring leader and seventh overall with 20 points this season.
This is the fifth of six meetings between the Devils and Penguins this season. Pittsburgh won the first two, but the Devils have answered with a pair of victories, both on home ice. Martin Brodeur recorded the shutout in a 2-0 win on Jan. 20.
Brodeur has won two of his three decisions against the Penguins this season with an 0.98 goals-against average and .962 save percentage. Brent Johnson has started three times against the Devils, going 1-1-1 with a 1.63 GAA and .938 save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury won his only start against the Devils, 2-1 on Dec. 6.
Despite a plethora of key injuries including Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins are having another solid season and are securely locked into another playoff birth.
The Devils got a bit of a boost when Winger Zach Parise practiced with the team for the first time since suffering a torn meniscus in a game against the Los Angeles Kings in early November. Although he’s traveling with the team to Pittsburgh and Buffalo he is doubtful for both games. The Devils could really use his offense skills if they are to have any hope of pulling off the impossible.
New Jersey: Parise (knee) Corrente (shoulder) Salvador (concussion) Taormina (foot)
Pittsburgh: Crosby (concussion) Malkin (knee) Orpik (broken finger) Comrie (hip) Tangradi (concussion) B. Johnson (upper body) Letestu (upper body) Cooke (suspended)
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Devils Head to Pittsburgh on Life Support
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