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DEVILS (8-17-2) at SENATORS (12-16-2)
TV -- MSG PLUS (HD), SNET-E (HD)
Last 10 -- New Jersey 3-7-0; Ottawa 3-6-1
Season series -- It's the first of four meetings this season. New Jersey took the first three meetings on the 2009-10 schedule before Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott stopped all 24 shots in a 3-0 win on Jan. 26, the most recent matchup. Milan Michalek scored 3 goals to lead the Senators, while Jamie Langenbrunner's 2 goals were tops for the Devils.
Big story -- Offense has been at a premium for both these teams. New Jersey remains by far the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, averaging 1.78 goals per game. Ottawa has scored just eight goals in a six-game stretch that includes Thursday night 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers.
Devils -- Taking its best shot at ending Pittsburgh's long winning streak, New Jersey played a solid road game on Monday, opening the scoring on a Brian Rolston power-play goal. But the Devils couldn't build on their lead in what ended up a 2-1 loss to the Penguins. The team is falling farther out of the playoff picture by the day, but the good news is Martin Brodeur is scheduled to return in goal for the first time since he re-aggravated an elbow injury Nov. 18 in Toronto.
"I'm sure (coach John MacLean) isn't happy about the results of our game," Brodeur said Tuesday. "We competed hard last night to allow two goals in Pittsburgh on a hot team. Just, we couldn't get more than one. But again, right now, our performance is about getting the job done. I'm sure he's definitely displeased. The longer this is dragging, the deeper the hole is getting."
Senators -- It's indicative of the way things have gone for Ottawa lately that the goals finally started to come Thursday and it still wasn't enough for a victory. Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza each scored on the power play and Fisher added a second goal, but the Rangers rallied three separate times and used a three-goal third period to hand the Senators a 5-3 defeat. They have now been outscored by 20 goals in the third this season.
"It's alarming a little bit," forward Nick Foligno said. "Third periods are when games are won, so we need to be a bit more resilient and dig a little bit deeper. That comes from within our room."
Who's hot -- The Devils' power play has three goals in the last two road games after scoring just one power-play goal in its first 13 games away from home. … Foligno has 1 goal and 2 assists over the Senators' last two games.
Injury report -- New Jersey forwards Zach Parise (knee) and Jacob Josefson (hand) and defensemen Bryce Salvador (concussion), Anssi Salmela (knee), Mark Fraser (hand) and Matt Taormina (ankle) are on injured reserve. … The Senators are healthy.
Stat pack -- Since the Senators came into the League in 1992-93, the Devils have almost identical records against them at home (21-10-2) and on the road (21-10-3). … Ottawa forward Alex Kovalev has 19 goals and 48 points in 70 career games against New Jersey.
Puck drop -- Ilya Kovalchuk has 1 goal in his last 10 games and 2 in his last 18, a major reason for New Jersey's offensive struggles. While many of his teammates are underachieving as well, none of them have put up the numbers Kovalchuk has over his NHL career to date. He has scored at least 40 goals in six-straight seasons and has two 50-goal seasons to his credit.
"I've never had problems with sleeping, but this year I have a little bit," Kovalchuk told the Newark Star-Ledger following practice Thursday. "It's tough."