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At the Rink blog

Devils seeking revenge in weekend series with Pens

Saturday, 02.09.2013 / 11:49 AM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Devils seeking revenge in weekend series with Pens

NEWARK,N.J. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma used the word "interesting" to describe the weekend home-and-home his team has with the New Jersey Devils starting Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center.

Only one point separates the Penguins from the Devils in the Atlantic Division standings and New Jersey has a game in hand. These two teams also played each other last weekend with Pittsburgh winning 5-1, so it'll be three games in nine days between the division rivals.

"You don't often have these situations where you see a team back-to-back," Bylsma said Saturday morning. "It's more like a college weekend than pro, but I think it makes for interesting hockey. It's a rivalry game anyway and you're going to play them six straight periods so that will make for an interesting storyline throughout these two games."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer likes the concept of seeing one team so often in such a short span. Even if it is the streaking Penguins, who have won five straight.

"I think it's good in that it's fresh in your mind what worked and what didn't work, and particularly with us what didn't work last game and what we have to correct," DeBoer said. "The job is to execute and make sure we don't make the same mistakes."

The Devils haven't lost since getting blown out in Pittsburgh seven days ago. Since then, they've beaten the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning by a combined score of 10-3.

Their newly-formed second line of Adam Henrique between Patrik Elias and David Clarkson has put up 12 points, including six from Elias, since it was put together two games ago. Bylsma said that line, which the Penguins did not see last weekend, has provided a perfect example of what the Devils do well when they're playing their game.

"They're one of the better teams at playing in the offensive zone and it's not just that line," Bylsma said. "They're a team that plays there well. They spend time there. They go east-west and it's a tough team to defend there. That's what they do really well on that line in particular. They're not only dangerous on the rush, but they're able to do that offensively."

For DeBoer, his challenge will be slowing down a similarly hot line led by Sidney Crosby, who has 12 points over a six-game point scoring streak. Chris Kunitz, the left wing on Crosby's line, has five goals and five assists in the last four games. Pascal Dupuis, the right wing, has also chipped in with goals in each of the last two games and six points in the last six games.

The Penguins as a team have scored 23 goals during their five-game winning streak.

"We played a similar team in Tampa that is leading the League in scoring as a team," DeBoer said. "A lot of speed, a lot of transition speed. you have to find a way to slow them down and make it tough on them. I thought we did a good job against Tampa.

"Part of that is staying out of the penalty box and the other part is checking as a five-man unit in all three zones. You can't let up in any zone or give this team any room anywhere on the ice or they will make you pay for it."

The Devils' penalty kill is 19-for-19 in the last four games, including 3-for-3 against the Penguins a week ago. However, Pittsburgh has gone 6-for-10 on the power play since getting shut out by New Jersey's penalty kill.

"The number one thing for us killing penalties is to stay out of the box against this team," DeBoer said. "I think that would be a mistake for us to take some penalties."

Pittsburgh will again be without defenseman Kris Letang, who will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Dylan Reese will stay in the lineup.

DeBoer said the Devils are going to play both games this weekend without the services of Dainius Zubrus, who also missed the game Thursday against Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury.

Bylsma mentioned the possibility of forward Dustin Jeffrey getting back in the lineup, but it appears that won't be known until game time. If Jeffrey plays, it's possible he goes in for Zach Boychuk on the second line.

Here are the projected lineups for the game Saturday afternoon:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Zach Boychuk or Dustin Jeffrey - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy

Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Simon Despres - Dylan Reese

Robert Bortuzzo - Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury

TomasVokoun

Scratches: Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey or Zach Boychuk

Injured: Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen

DEVILS

Stefan Matteau - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk

Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Krys Barch - Jacob Josefson - Bobby Butler

Bryce Salvador - Mark Fayne

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Scratches: Peter Harrold, Henrik Tallinder

Injured: Dainius Zubrus

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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