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Devils hope for second straight win at Boston

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (5-10-2) at BRUINS (8-5-1)


Last 10: New Jersey 3-6-1; Boston 5-4-1

Season Series: Second of four meetings this season. Jordan Caron scored his first NHL goal and Tim Thomas made 31 saves as Boston won 4-1 in New Jersey on Oct. 16.

Big Story: Thomas is no longer undefeated, though the blame for Saturday’s 2-0 home loss to Ottawa could hardly be placed on his shoulders. He turned in another 31-save effort and continues to lead the League with a .957 save percentage, while his 1.45 goals-against average is second. New Jersey, meanwhile, will attempt to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season.

Team Scope:

Devils: How bad had it been going for sniper Ilya Kovalchuk? He was sitting on seven-straight games without a goal. His 3 goals for the season were as many as New Jersey rookie defenseman Matt Taormina. And his flubbed shootout attempt to end a loss to Buffalo on Wednesday became an instant blooper reel classic. But Kovalchuk ended several weeks of frustration and the Devils’ 0-5-2 start on home ice with a power-play goal in overtime Friday for a 4-3 win over the Oilers.

“A win is a win,” said Brian Rolston, who also scored. “We got one tonight. It wasn’t pretty, but we come back and I’m happy for Kovy to get that goal. He’s going to produce and it just showed his character tonight to come back. He had a strong effort after what happened last game.”

Bruins: Thomas is tied for the League lead with three shutouts, but on Saturday night it was Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott who was flawless, turning aside all 31 shots Boston fired his way. Thomas did everything he could to hold the Bruins in the game, but Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson scored midway through the first period and captain Daniel Alfredsson added an insurance goal in the third.

"I certainly don't fault Timmy. He was good; he kept us in the game," coach Claude Julien said. "I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but I'm not going to praise our team because we didn't play well."

Who's Hot: Patrik Elias has 6 assists in the Devils’ last four games and has taken over their scoring lead with 11 points. Linemate Jason Arnott has 3 goals and 1 assist in the last four games. ... Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had goals in consecutive games prior to Saturday, when he finished with three shots in 23:44 of ice time.

Injury Report: Jamie Langenbrunner missed New Jersey’s last game with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Matthew Corrente is nearing his return from a broken hand. Still on injured reserve are defensemen Bryce Salvador (concussion), Anssi Salmela (knee) and Mark Fraser (hand) and forwards Zach Parise (knee) and Jacob Josefson (hand).

Out of the lineup for Boston are defenseman Johnny Boychuk (forearm) and forwards Marco Sturm (knee), Trent Whitfield (Achilles), Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) and David Krejci (concussion).

Stat Pack: Alexander Vasyunov and Mattias Tedenby each scored his first NHL goal Friday, marking the first time the Devils had two players accomplish that feat in the same game since Denis Pederson and Jason Smith on Oct. 12, 1995 against the Winnipeg Jets. ... Mark Recchi received a fighting major Saturday, his first since 2004, and in the process surpassed 1,000 penalty minutes for his career. He is the 30th player in NHL history to top that figure in both points (1,494) and PIMs (1,003).

Puck Drop: New Jersey plays three games on the road this week, where it has a 4-5-0 record this season. Despite their dreadful start, a few wins could propel the Devils right back into the middle of the Eastern Conference standings.
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