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Bruins, on offensive surge, play host to Devils

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (8-6-1) at BRUINS (8-7-0)


Last 10:
New Jersey 5-5-0; Boston 6-4-0

Season Series:
First of four meetings. The Bruins won the first three matchups on the 2010-11 slate before the Devils edged them on the final day of the regular season in a game that had no real meaning for either side. Tim Thomas didn't play that afternoon, but won all three of his starts against New Jersey, giving up just two goals in the process.

Big Story:
Boston's offense has been nothing short of lethal during a five-game winning streak the Bruins carry into Tuesday's action. They've averaged six goals per game during the run, led by sophomore scoring star Tyler Seguin. The No. 2 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft was named the League's First Star of the Week after putting together a run of 7 goals in four games.

Team Scope:

After dropping the front end of a home-and-home against the Capitals in New Jersey, the Devils went to Washington on Saturday and captured two points in dramatic fashion. They put themselves in an early 2-0 hole before second-period goals by Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter drew them even. The game ended up going into a shootout, and after Zach Parise and Alex Ovechkin traded scores, David Clarkson, seldom used in the penalty-shot tiebreaker, came up with the decisive tally in the fourth round for a 3-2 victory.

"I was hoping not to miss the puck on the way in," Clarkson told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Just slow it down and try to get the heart rate down a little bit. Find a spot. If [Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth] didn't go down I was going to shoot it. Once he went down I went to my backhand. I felt I had a little bit of time.

"I was just kind of waiting to see what was going to do. I just kind of took my time. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous because at that point in the game it's just you and the goalie."

Bruins: Milan Lucic had a five-game goals streak snapped in Saturday's 6-2 win over Buffalo, but the big talk afterward revolved around the burly Boston forward colliding with goalie Ryan Miller of the Sabres. Miller later left the game and was eventually diagnosed with a concussion. Lucic earned himself a disciplinary meeting with Brendan Shanahan on Monday, but the decision was made not to suspend him. Shanahan stated, in part, "I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline."

"Obviously it was a hard collision and I did everything I could just to brace myself. Like [Miller] said, I have 50 pounds on him. So that's probably why he might've got the worst of it," Lucic told the media on Monday, prior to the hearing. "Even if you look at the video, I was cringing after the play, too, because I was winded, because it was such a hard collision. He got a good piece of me as well and that's pretty much it."

Who's Hot:
Patrik Elias continued his point-per-game pace for the Devils by assisting on Sykora's goal Saturday. Elias has 2 goals and 6 assists during a seven-game points streak and has only been held without a point twice this season. Dainius Zubrus has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak. … Seguin has 8 goals and 3 assists during a six-game points streak. Brad Marchand has 3 goals and 5 assists during a five-game points streak. Nathan Horton has 3 goals and 3 assists in the Bruins' last three games. Thomas has won three straight starts.

Injury Report:
New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk skated for more than 40 minutes Monday before his teammates practiced and, according to the Star-Ledger, appeared to show no signs of the lower-body injury that has sidelined him the last four games. He'll travel with the team and could play Tuesday. … Boston has been without forward Daniel Paille since a puck deflected into his face during a Nov. 7 game, requiring surgery. Defenseman Andrew Ference missed the last game with a lower-body injury. Both players are considered day-to-day.

Stat Pack: The Devils are 4-1 in shootouts this season, including 3-0 on the road -- and in all three of those games, they rallied from a two-goal deficit in regulation. … The Bruins have scored two goals in less than a minute nine times already this season.

Puck Drop: Sykora has 3 goals and 7 points for New Jersey after spending last season out of the NHL and playing in just 14 games for Minnesota during the 2009-10 campaign.

"It's a challenge for me and I love having challenges," Sykora told the Star-Ledger in regards to his comeback. "I'm taking it game by game. I'm not going to look 10 games ahead. Right now I'm preparing myself for Boston and that's it."

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