DEVILS (5-3-0) at PENGUINS (9-1-0)
This is the first of six games between these teams. Last season the Devils and Penguins won three games apiece, twice at home and once on the road. Two of New Jersey’s wins came in overtime. Sidney Crosby
(5 goals, 3 assists) and Evgeni Malkin
(2 goals, 6 assists) of the Penguins tied for the series scoring lead. Matt Cooke
added 2 goals, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
went 2-0-2 with a 1.69 goals-against average. Jamie Langenbrunner (2 goals, 2 assists), Brian Gionta (1 goal, 3 assists), Travis Zajac
(1 goal, 3 assists) and Colin White (4 assists) led all Devils with 4 points each.
Two Atlantic Division powers meet in a series that is always highly anticipated because of the contrast in styles between the Penguins (young and offensive) and the Devils (older and structured). New Jersey enters with a 4-0-0 road record, while the Pens are 4-1-0 at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh also currently has a League-high seven-game win streak.
This is the second game on New Jersey’s two-game road trip that began with a 4-2 victory over the rival New York Rangers on Thursday. All-Star Zach Parise
recorded his first multi-goal game of the season and his second consecutive multi-point contest.
For the first time since 2003-04, the Devils have a Niedermayer on the roster. Rob, a veteran center signed only a week before the season began, has been a steady presence at both ends of the ice, playing responsible defensively and chipping in with 2 goals and 6 points in eight games. Rob and older brother Scott, a Devil from 1991-92 through 2003-04, are the fourth set of brothers to play for the team, joining Claude and Jocelyn Lemieux, Aaron and Neal Broten and Patrik and Peter Sundstrom.
This is the fourth contest in Pittsburgh’s current five-game homestand that began on Oct. 17. The Pens have defeated Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Florida at Mellon Arena thus far.
Fleury is off to the best start of his career at 8-0-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. He has allowed three or more goals only twice this season. Fleury did not play in Friday's game against Florida, only the second contest he wasn't in action this season.
This is Pittsburgh's second game since learning that All-Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar is going to miss a month to six weeks with a broken wrist. Martin Skoula made his Penguins and season debut against the Panthers.
For the Devils, Zach Parise
has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last three games, Langenbrunner has a goal and 3 assists in his last three games, and Zajac has a goal and two assists in his last three games. For the Penguins, Crosby has 2 goals and 5 points in his last three games and Malkin has a goal and 4 assists in his last three games.
For the Devils, defenseman Mark Fraser
(head) and left wing Patrik Elias
(groin) are on injured reserve. For the Penguins, center Maxime Talbot (shoulder) and Gonchar (broken wrist) are on injured reserve.
Every game for the Devils is a Martin Brodeur
shutout watch. With one more blanking he'll tie Terry Sawchuk's all-time regular season career record with 103. Will it happen tonight?
"That's the situation we face and we've been here before," Crosby said of playing without Gonchar. "I think the story doesn’t change when you lose guys. Other guys have to step up, especially without Gonchar. He's a big part of our team. We're going to have a bunch of guys do that."
-- Rocky Bonanno, NHL.com