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Devils-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Devils-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: New Jersey Devils (21-18-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (15-25-4).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

The New Jersey Devils look to ride the hot goaltending of Martin Brodeur to their longest winning streak in three years when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

Brodeur made 26 saves for his second straight shutout and third in five games as the Devils beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Friday for their fifth win in a row. New Jersey hasn't won six consecutive games since Jan. 13-24, 2003.

Brodeur lowered his goals-against average to 1.20 in his last five starts, and has stopped 106 of 112 shots over that span.

"The rules are there and there is a lot more flow to the game," Brodeur said of his team's defensive play of late. "If we are able to play this way and not take a lot of penalties, you'll see this more and more from our team. It's not just me. All the guys are excited that we are able to shut down good teams."

Leading scorer Brian Gionta scored twice during a three-goal third period to up his career-high to 25. He has seven multigoal games this season after totaling just five in his first three seasons.

"We're beating good teams now and we're starting to roll," Gionta said. "We're playing the hockey we know how to play. We're getting back to the Devil way."

Scott Gomez assisted on Gionta's first goal to extend his point streak to eight games. He has eight goals and 17 points during the stretch.

Gionta has two assists against the Blackhawks in four games, while Gomez has one goal and six assists in eight contests against Chicago.

The Blackhawks are in the midst of playing eight of nine games at home, and are 1-1-0 thus far on their season-high five-game homestand.

Chicago, 2-9-2 in its last 13 games overall, got two goals from Andy Hilbert and 28 saves from Adam Munro in a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh on Friday.

Munro won his second straight start in place of Nikolai Khabibulin, who has resumed taking shots in practice after missing the last eight games with a groin injury.

Hilbert gave the sellout crowd of 20,541 something to cheer about after Chicago entered with an 0-7-1 mark in its last eight home games.

"Just getting a quick start in front of this big crowd was huge for us," Hilbert said. "The confidence gets going right down the line and the young guys have to bring some energy."

Radim Vrbata scored for the third time in seven games since being acquired from Carolina on Dec. 30, and Martin Lapointe finished the scoring in the third with his 10th goal of the season for Chicago.

The Devils have seven wins and two ties in the last nine meetings against the Blackhawks since a 2-1 loss on Oct. 10, 1998.

STANDINGS: Devils - 47 points, 3rd place, 16 PB, Atlantic Division. Blackhawks - 34 points, 3rd place, 29 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Gionta, 25 goals and 46 points; Gomez, 25 assists; Colin White, 49 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 16 goals; Tyler Arnason, 21 assists; Bell and Arnason, 31 points; Matthew Barnaby, 109 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 16.0 percent (43 for 269), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (171 for 207), 15th. Blackhawks - Power play: 13.4 percent (33 for 247), 28th. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (277 for 324), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (19-14-3, 3 SO, 2.70 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 3.83). Blackhawks - Craig Anderson (2-8-1, 3.90); Munro (2-0-0, 1.97).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Devils, 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: March 11, 2004; Devils, 6-4. At East Rutherford, N.J., Patrik Elias had two third-period goals and Brodeur made 31 saves for the Devils.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 7-11-2 on the road; Blackhawks - 8-11-1 at home.

Associated Press

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