Last week, Martin Brodeur beat the Chicago Blackhawks to become the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. Victories for him and the New Jersey Devils, however, have been hard to come by since that game.
With Brodeur likely in net Friday night, the visiting Devils try to avoid a third consecutive loss while looking to continue their dominance over the Blackhawks.
On March 17, Brodeur made 28 saves in New Jersey's 3-2 home win over Chicago and passed Patrick Roy with his 552nd career victory.
Since then, however, the Devils (47-23-3) - who clinched a playoff spot - have lost three of four, including the last two with Brodeur in goal.
Once focused on catching Eastern Conference-leader Boston, New Jersey is now looking to beat out Washington for second place. With nine games remaining, the Devils are tied for second with the Capitals and five points behind Boston.
The Devils opened this three-game trip with a 4-1 loss at Boston on Sunday and fell 4-2 at Philadelphia the next night. New Jersey is looking to avoid its longest losing stretch since dropping four in a row from Nov. 8-14
Facing Chicago (39-22-11) could help New Jersey get back on track. Though the Blackhawks are fourth in the West and two points ahead of fifth-place Vancouver for first-round home-ice advantage, the Devils have won four in row against them and are 10-0-0 with two ties since losing 2-1 at Chicago on Oct. 10, 1998.
New Jersey is 3-0-0 with a tie at the United Center since that loss and won 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 15, 2006 in its most recent visit.
Brodeur is 8-2-0 with four ties and a 1.89 goals-against average all-time versus the Blackhawks. He is 8-0-0 with a tie and a 1.52 GAA since the Devils' latest loss to Chicago.
"He is a special goalie," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Brodeur, 15-5-2 with a 2.14 GAA this season. "You look at the consistency. He's amazing. He keeps getting better and better and better."
After Brodeur made 35 saves in a 4-0 win over Minnesota last Friday, he's struggled in New Jersey's last two losses where the Bruins and Flyers combined to convert on five of seven power-play chances.
"We made some mistakes on special teams," said New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who continued a career season with his 25th goal Monday. "We've got to be able to kill penalties."
Langenbrunner had a goal and Zach Parise had two assists against Chicago last week. Parise had his eight-game point streak snapped against the Flyers.
New Jersey hopes to have Patrik Elias back after missing Monday's game with lower-body soreness. Second on the team with 77 points, Elias had an assist against Chicago to become the Devils' career scoring leader.
Dustin Byfuglien had a goal in that contest and one in Chicago's 6-5 shootout win over San Jose on Wednesday.
Andrew Ladd had two goals and Jonathan Toews scored his 30th and the winner in the shootout for the Blackhawks, who squandered 4-1 lead but won their second straight since an 0-3-2 stretch.
"We're looking forward to getting back on track," said Ladd, whose 13 goals leave him one shy of matching his career high. "We're getting confidence back. Slowly."
Nikolai Khabibulin made 23 saves Wednesday to improve to 19-7-6 with a 2.52 GAA. He stopped 27 shots against New Jersey and is likely to make his fourth straight start. He is 8-3-0 with three ties and a 2.02 GAA versus the Devils.