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Coyotes aim to get back on track against Devils

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (32-11-1) at COYOTES (26-16-5)

Last 10: New Jersey 7-3-0; Phoenix 4-3-3.

Season Series: This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. New Jersey defeated Phoenix 5-2 on home ice on March 12, 2009. Zach Parise scored to reach the 40-goal plateau for the first time and Martin Brodeur stopped 26 shots to record career victory No. 550 -- he would tie Patrick Roy's record in his following start in Montreal and break it three days after that at home against Chicago.

Big Story: Brodeur just continues to add to his legend as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver approach. He will be 38 years old in May and last season suffered the first serious injury of his NHL career. Yet, he has come back this season to play in 42 of the Devils' 44 games, posting League highs of 29 wins and six shutouts. In his last start Tuesday, Brodeur stopped 51 shots and four shootout attempts in a 1-0 win over the New York Rangers -- his first career regular-season shutout at Madison Square Garden.

"I'll definitely remember this game," said Brodeur, who set a new career high for saves in a shutout. "It was a fun game and both goalies had to be excellent to push it to overtime. Even in overtime, both of us made a couple saves, and even in the shootout, pushed it to more than the limit. For goalies -- I know people like the offense -- but it was a pretty entertaining game even though it was 0-0."

Team Scope:

Devils: Technically, this is New Jersey's third stop on a five-game road trip, although after they started in Montreal on Saturday, the Devils had to return to the Prudential Center on Sunday to complete a game against Tampa Bay halted after a bank of lights went out on Friday. So it's been a busy stretch for Brodeur and his team. They come off perhaps their most thrilling win of the season, a game against the rival Rangers in which Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist matched each other save for save until Patrik Elias finally scored in the fourth round of the shootout for the only goal of the night.

"Especially in a shootout, it's a competition, even though you don't play against each other," Brodeur said. "It's about making a save and putting the ball in the court of the other goalie: 'You make the save.' Because they shot first I was able to get that advantage to make that save first, and he had to respond. He responded on our top three players."

Coyotes: This is the third game in a stretch of six straight at home for Phoenix, but it hasn't gone according to plan so far. The Coyotes lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Islanders on Saturday and fell 3-1 to the Sharks on Tuesday. Dave Tippett's group has dropped three straight overall and five of six.

"We're not in rhythm right now," Tippett said. "There are some mistakes going against us and, like we've talked about since the start of the year, our margin for error is very slim on most nights."

Who's Hot: Brodeur has won three of his last four starts, with shutouts against the Stars and Rangers. He gave up just one goal to the Canadiens on Saturday. … Radim Vrbata's 14th goal of the season Tuesday tied him with Scottie Upshall for the Coyotes' lead. He has two goals and two assists in his last four games.

Injury Report: New Jersey is still without defenseman Paul Martin (arm) and forwards Dainius Zubrus (kneecap) and David Clarkson (leg). … Phoenix defenseman Kurt Sauer (head) is on injured reserve and fellow blueliner Ed Jovanovski is serving the final game of a two-game suspension for elbowing Islanders center John Tavares.

Stat Pack: Brodeur also leads the League in minutes played at 2,459 while Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is sixth at 2,364. Bryzgalov is tied with Buffalo's Ryan Miller for second in shutouts with five.

Puck Drop: This will be New Jersey's first trip to Phoenix since a 3-1 loss on Nov. 22, 2006. The Coyotes have hit something of a rough patch and at 26th in the League their offense won't scare a lot of teams, but with a stingy defense and Bryzgalov in net they are not an opponent the Devils can afford to overlook.

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