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Devils desperate for points as Capitals visit

by Mike G. Morreale
CAPITALS (41-21-10) at DEVILS (33-33-4)
Last 10 -- 
Washington 9-1-0; New Jersey 7-3-0
Season series -- This will be the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Capitals earned a 7-2 victory on Oct. 9 behind Alex Ovechkin's two goals and a 5-1 verdict on Dec. 21 as five different players scored goals and Michal Neuvirth stopped 35 shots. On Nov. 22, Johan Hedberg stopped all 30 shots he faced for his 15th career shutout and ex-Devil Jason Arnott, who is now skating for the Capitals, had a pair of goals in a 5-0 triumph by the Devils in New Jersey.
Big story -- The game should have marked the return of Arnott to the Prudential Center to face his former team, but he'll be sidelined for the third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Center David Steckel, who was dealt to New Jersey in exchange for Arnott, will be facing the team he played with for five-plus seasons. In seven games since the trade, Steckel is still without a point. The Capitals are two points behind Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia while the Devils have somehow climbed six points from the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. 
Team Scope:
Capitals -- The Caps had their season-high nine game winning streak come to an end on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson scored for the Caps, but the team was denied a shot at taking over first place in the Eastern Conference.  Washington had won six one-goal games as well as a shootout during its winning streak, but never owned a lead against the Red Wings.
Devils -- The Devils, with a 23-4-2 record in the last 29 games, dropped their third game of the season to the Senators on Thursday and failed to gain any ground in the standings with just 12 games remaining. Ottawa goalie Curtis McElhinney, the game's first star, was the difference with 33 saves. The Devils final dozen games include two non-playoff teams, nine in the top eight and six more on home ice. Despite making a ninth straight start against the Senators, expect goalie Martin Brodeur to get the nod once again against Washington.
"It'll be a tough matchup, Washington has a lot of skilled players, but we feel we can beat anyone we play … it's going to be a great game," forward Brian Rolston said.
Who's hot -- Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has 13 goals and 12 assists over the last 27 games and Patrik Elias has 2 goals and 6 points in the last five contests. … Ovechkin has produced 5 goals, 12 points and has delivered 26 hits in nine games during the month of March.
Injury report -- The Devils are without forward Zach Parise (knee) and defensemen Matthew Corrente (shoulder) and Matt Taormina (ankle).  … Washington is still waiting for the return of Nicklas Backstrom (broken finger) and Mike Green (head). Eric Fehr (upper body) is day-to-day and Arnott (undisclosed) is out.
Stat pack -- Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 389th consecutive game Thursday night in Ottawa to establish a franchise record, surpassing a 17-year-old record set by defenseman Ken Daneyko (388 straight games) in a Devils' uniform.
Puck drop -- It's throwback night in Newark as the Devils will don their red, green and white jerseys against the Capitals. Brodeur will wear the mask that is the replica of the one he wore in his first NHL game on March 26, 1992, against the Boston Bruins (24 saves in a 4-2 victory). 

Brodeur wore No. 29 for his first NHL game and has "29" on the back of his replica mask because of that instead of his usual No. 30.

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