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Devils aim to continue dominance of Canadiens

by Mike G. Morreale
CANADIENS (23-23-5) at DEVILS (33-14-1)

Last 10 -- Montreal 4-4-2; New Jersey 5-5-0

Season series -- This will be the third of four meetings this season -- the Devils have taken the first two by identical 2-1 scores. In the most recent meeting on Jan. 9, Zach Parise scored New Jersey's first overtime goal of the season to lead the visitors to victory at the Bell Centre. In the earlier meeting at PrudentialCenter on Dec. 16, Patrik Elias scored with 2:36 left in the third to snap a 1-1 tie. The Canadiens have beaten the Devils just once at PrudentialCenter since the work stoppage.

Big story -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur notched his seventh shutout of the season on Wednesday in a 22-save, 2-0 victory over the Florida Panthers at PrudentialCenter. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Devils, who are now 17-7-0 at home. With each passing game, Brodeur just adds to his record-breaking NHL legacy -- he's already established career records for regular-season games played (1,045), victories (587), shutouts (108) and minutes played (61,697).

Team Scope

-- Montreal has lost four of its last five games and has fallen into a three-way tie for ninth in the Eastern Conference with 51 points. The Habs did battle hard to score a pair of third-period goals and tie St. Louis on Wednesday, but lost 4-3 in overtime when Andy McDonald beat Carey Price 3:19 into the extra session. The loss didn't sit well with Montreal's Mike Cammalleri.

"I see it as a point lost," said Cammalleri, who sent the game into OT by scoring with 32.9 seconds left in regulation. "I thought we had the momentum, but things can change so quickly in this game. I'm happy that we came back and picked up a point because every point is valuable."

Devils -- What's going on with New Jersey's powerless power-play? The Devils' finished 0-for-2 with the man advantage on Wednesday and are now 0-for-21 over their last seven games. … In other news, the Devils placed right wing Ilkka Pikkarainen, who had 1 goal and 3 assists in 31 games with the team, on waivers Thursday. If he isn't claimed by another team before noon on Friday, the Devils will likely send him back to Lowell of the American Hockey League. Coach Jacques Lemaire will also have rookie forwards Patrick Davis and Nick Palmieri back in the lineup against Montreal -- both players made a strong impression in their season debut against Florida on Wednesday.

Who's hot -- Canadiens forward Benoit Pouliot, who plays alongside former Devils Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, has 8 goals in 13 games since being acquired from Minnesota on Nov. 23. That's quite a surge considering he scored only twice in 14 games as a member of the Wild.

Injury report -- Montreal forwards Sergei Kostitsyn (ankle) and Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body) are out. ... The Devils are without forwards Elias (concussion), David Clarkson (leg), Dainius Zubrus (knee) and defenseman Paul Martin (arm).

Stat pack -- The Devils have scored only 11 goals in their last seven games, a stretch that has seen the club go 3-4-0. Additionally, the Devils have scored two goals or less in 23 of their 48 games this season.

"When you're not scoring a lot, you've got to play well defensively," Brodeur said. "And usually when you play well defensively, it triggers your offense. For us, it's something we've talked about in the last few days, to go out and just be solid. Don't beat ourselves here. Let teams try to do something special to be good against us."

Puck drop -- Brodeur, a Montreal native, will make his 28th straight start between the pipes for New Jersey. He's 37-15-5 in 57 starts against the Canadiens. His 30th win this season in a victory over the Panthers on Wednesday came in the team's 48th game of the season -- the fewest he's needed to reach that milestone. It also marked the 13th time he has won at least 30 games in his 16 NHL seasons -- tying Patrick Roy's NHL record for most 30-win seasons. Meanwhile, expect Canadiens backup goalie Jaroslav Halak to get the nod over a struggling Price, who allowed three goals on his first 11 shots in the OT loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.

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