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Devils finish off home slate by facing Penguins

by Mike G. Morreale /

PENGUINS (35-11-0) at DEVILS (18-18-10)


Last 10: New Jersey 3-6-1; Pittsburgh 7-3-0

Season series: This is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Atlantic Division foes. The New Jersey Devils have won two of the three previous matchups, including a 3-1 decision on Feb. 10 when David Clarkson scored a pair of goals, Ilya Kovalchuk scored once, and Johan Hedberg stopped 23 shots at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Big story: For the second time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins had their winning streak snapped by the Buffalo Sabres. On April 2, the Sabres ended Pittsburgh's season-best 15-game winning streak. On Tuesday, Buffalo halted the team's seven-game run following a 4-2 victory in Pittsburgh. The Penguins' bid for the Presidents' Trophy ended when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Devils: The Devils are playing for pride since the club is mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team gave their fans plenty to cheer about on Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over the reeling Montreal Canadiens. Steve Sullivan had a goal and an assist and Jacob Josefson and Patrik Elias also connected for the Devils. Martin Brodeur made 19 saves to earn his 44th career victory in 68 career games against Montreal. Johan Hedberg (5-9-3, 2.73 goals-against average, .886 save percentage) is expected to make his first start in goal for the Devils since March 19 on Thursday.

Penguins: Center Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup in Tuesday's loss to the Sabres after missing the past four games with an upper-body injury. Malkin finished with one assist, won 11 of 18 faceoffs in 21:18 of ice time and took one shot on a line with Pascal Dupuis and Jarome Iginla.

"I thought he played with a lot of jump, a lot of jam in his game," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He shot the puck, had a couple chances. I thought he played real strong and you saw it numerous times, him battle along the wall, the puck protection, those types of battle situations. He was himself."

Who's hot: Brenden Morrow has five goals and 11 points in the past nine games and Iginla has five goals and nine points in the past 10 games for the Penguins. … Elias has three goals in the past three games for the Devils.

Injury report: Sidney Crosby (jaw) and James Neal (concussion) are doubtful and Paul Martin (hand) is questionable for the Penguins. … Devils captain Bryce Salvador (wrist) will miss the remaining two games of the regular season.

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