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Devils, Penguins set to meet again in Pittsburgh

by Dan Rosen

DEVILS (7-1-3) at PENGUINS (8-4-0)


Last 10: New Jersey 6-1-3; Pittsburgh 6-4-0.

Season series: This is the third of four meetings and second of a weekend home-and-home between the Atlantic Division opponents this season. The Devils beat the Penguins 3-1 on Saturday. Pittsburgh beat New Jersey 5-1 last weekend.

Big story: First place in the Atlantic Division is again on the line, but this time it's the Devils, winners of four straight, who are sitting in the top spot. This is the third game in the past nine days between these two teams.

Team Scope:

Devils: The power play got off to a sluggish start Saturday, but it came through with a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Devils, who had 10 opportunities on the power play, have scored six power play goals during their four-game winning streak.

"We got some chances, got the puck back a couple of times and that creates momentum, gets contagious," Adam Henrique said. "That's something we need to keep pushing on."

Stefan Matteau got his first NHL goal Saturday and Bobby Butler scored his first as a Devil. Henrique's third goal in as many games and his first on the power play this season proved to be the winner.

Martin Brodeur was also strong again Saturday with 24 saves. Brodeur is 6-1-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season. The Devils have given up only four goals in the last four games.

Penguins: Pittsburgh's five-game winning streak came to an end Saturday largely because of all the penalties it took. The Penguins were called for 12 minor penalties, resulting in 10 power play opportunities for the Devils.

They killed the first five, but Henrique and Butler scored on back-to-back power plays in the third period. The penalties were just too much to overcome and didn't allow the Penguins to get into any kind of rhythm.

"The last few games, we played better hockey than this," Penguins defenseman Paul Martin said. "In general, we took too many penalties. That's the way we were playing earlier in the year. It takes the flow away from the game. The key for us is to stay out of the box and be smarter. We also have to be smarter with the puck."

The good news is the Penguins' power play again converted, making it 7-for-16 over the last four games. But, Brandon Sutter's power-play goal came 83 seconds into the game and the Penguins never could get their rhythm back offensively.

"I don't think anybody is happy with the way the game went," Sidney Crosby said. "It was just kind of a weird game, a lot of penalty kills, and it's not easy for those guys that are killing penalties to have to go out there and do that as much as they did. And, for Flower [Marc-Andre Fleury] as well, to be in the zone like that for him it's tough. They did a good job, killed as best they could, but it's just too many to take."

Who's hot: For the Devils, Henrique has goals in each of the last three games, giving him four for the season. Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists Saturday, giving him a goal and three assists in the last two games. Andy Greene also had two assists Saturday and now has points in five straight games (2-6-8). For the Penguins, Sutter has points in five straight games (3-2-5).

Injury report: Pittsburgh will play without defensemen Kris Letang (lower body, day-to-day) and Matt Niskanen (lower body). Devils forward Dainius Zubrus will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

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