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DEVILS (7-4-0) at LIGHTNING (4-3-3)
Last 10 -- New Jersey 7-3-0; Tampa Bay 4-3-3
Season Series -- This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. The Devils rallied for a 4-3 shootout win at the St. Pete Times Forum on Oct. 8. Travis Zajac scored with 1 second remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Big Story -- The Devils have been perfect (6-0-0) on the road this season and have won eight straight away from home dating to last season. After losing three in a row to open the season, Tampa is sitting in second place in the Southeast Division, seven points behind the Washington Capitals. The Lightning are 4-0-2 at home.
Devils -- It's hard denying the difference in the way the Devils have played at home and on the road. However, players are still dismissive of the discrepancy and have been chalking it up to coincidence.
"We don't talk about it in the locker room before the game," Devils forward Zach Parise told The Star Ledger. "We had a good effort. It happened to be in a road game.
"I don't think it's a problem," Parise said after a home loss to the Sabres on Wednesday. "It's irrelevant. It's just a coincidence we're winning on the road and not at home."
Irrelevant or not, it's hard to ignore. The Devils have been outscored 16-9 at home, while they have a plus-9 goal differential away from PrudentialCenter.
Lightning -- After a slow start to the season, the team has made strides during the first three weeks of the season. There have been inconsistent efforts from the young team, but captain Vinny Lecavalier thinks his club is close to turning a corner.
"If we keep skating and keep working hard, things will work out for this hockey club," Lecavalier told the Tampa Tribune. "This is a totally different team from last year. We're a lot stronger overall, and there's no comparison between our defense now and last season."
Coach Rick Tocchet would like to see his team buckle down defensively when the game is on the line.
"I like the way this team is working," het said. "But if you've got a team beat, you have to put them out. I think we'll get better at that."
Who's Hot -- The hottest Devil continues to be Parise. With an assist in the Devils' 2-1 win in Boston on Thursday, he has 10 points in his last 6 games. For Tampa, Steve Stamkos is having a standout sophomore season. His six-game point streak has included 7 goals and 3 assists -- including two goals in Thursday's 5-2 win over Ottawa.
Injury Report -- After recently losing Jay Pandolfo and Paul Martin for six weeks, the Devils can add defenseman Johnny Oduya to the injury tally. He left Thursday's game in Boston with a lower-body injury and did not return. Asked when he'd be back in the lineup, he told The Star Ledger, ""I have no idea at this point. Nothing has been decided. I'll see how I progress" The Lightning boast a mostly healthy squad, with only defenseman Paul Ranger away from the team for personal reasons.
Stat Pack -- Lightning left wing Ryan Malone has 8 goals in 10 games, putting him well on his way to breaking his career high in goals of 27 set two years with the Penguins. ... The Devils have scored 27 goals this season, and Parise (8 goals, 6 assists) has factored into 52 percent of them. To give you an idea of how important he is to his team's offense, Alex Ovechkin (13 goals, 9 assists) has factored into 50 percent of Washington's 44 goals.
Puck Drop -- Yann Danis won his debut with New Jersey on Thursday by stopping 31 of 32 shots in Boston. Barring something catastrophic, Martin Brodeur will be back between the pipes for the Devils. But don't think Danis' effort went unnoticed. "Obviously he knows how to handle those situations," Jamie Langenbrunner told the Star-Ledger. "It's good to see he can sit for a month and come in and play at such a high level."
The Lightning have lost eight straight to the Devils, with their last win coming Oct. 6, 2007.
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