New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur earned another milestone victory in his last outing. He'll likely be in net again Friday, looking to add to his Eastern Conference-leading win total against a team that hasn't beaten him this season.
|Martin Brodeur has held the Thrashers to two goals in their last two matchups. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)|
Brodeur and the Devils look to sweep their season series with the Atlanta Thrashers for the first time in eight years when the teams meet at the Prudential Center on Friday.
Brodeur made 23 saves in his 16th straight start Wednesday, earning his 30th victory of the season as New Jersey (32-21-4) beat Ottawa 3-2 in overtime. The 35-year-old goalie has reached the 30-win mark in an NHL-record 12 consecutive seasons, including a career-high 48 victories last season.
"It's one of the things I set for myself," he said. "Thirty games at the end of the year is not a big number, but not that many goalies do it in consecutive years, so it's nice.
"Now I'll look forward to try to hit 35 next," said Brodeur, who started the streak by going 34-30 with 12 ties in 1995-96.
Three of Brodeur's 30 victories this season have come against the Thrashers (28-27-4), who haven't been swept by the Devils since getting outscored 24-2 in losing all four meetings of 1999-2000. Brodeur won each of those games, posting a 0.50 goals-against average and recording two shutouts.
After giving up five goals in a 6-5 victory in the teams' first meeting of the season Oct. 13, Brodeur has held the Thrashers to two goals in the last two matchups, including a shutout Nov. 23.
In 29 games against the Thrashers, Brodeur is 16-6-4 with three ties, five shutouts and a 2.10 GAA. He's 4-0-1 against them since going 0-4-3 in his previous seven games in the series.
Friday's contest opens a five-game road trip for Atlanta, which might not have second-leading scorer Marian Hossa by the time it returns for its next home game Feb. 28 - two days after the NHL trade deadline.
|The Thrashers would like to keep Marian Hossa in an Atlanta uniform for the long haul if they can. ( AP Photo/Tom Gannam)|
Thrashers general manager and interim coach Don Waddell still hopes to re-sign Hossa, who has turned down the Thrashers' four-year, $28 million offer, but acknowledged a trade is an option.
Hossa had 43 goals and 57 assists for a career-high 100 points last season, and has 51 points this season.
"You never think about (getting traded)," Hossa said. "You try to have fun. Have fun with the guys. That's the only way to handle it."
Losing Hossa would almost certainly deal a blow to the Thrashers' chances of winning the Southeast Division. With 60 points, they're one of four teams battling for the Southeast lead.
"Our No. 1 goal is to try to sign this player," Waddell said. "In the meantime, we're in a big race here. He's one of our most important players. We're utilizing our players as much as we can to try to make sure we stay in contention."
Hossa helped Atlanta's cause with a goal and an assist in Wednesday's 3-2 shootout victory over Washington. Since the beginning of January, the Thrashers are 9-1-2 when he records a point and 0-6-1 when he doesn't.
Hossa has 13 goals and 13 assists in 33 games against the Devils.
New Jersey improved to 4-1-1 in its last six games when Brian Gionta snapped a 13-game goal drought by scoring 2:14 into overtime Wednesday. The Devils have won their last 10 games in which Gionta has a goal.
"Over the last little while, we've played against the good teams and played well," right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We're gaining confidence."