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Devils' road trip continues with stop to play Coyotes

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (4-2-1) at COYOTES (3-3-2)


Season Series:
This is the only meeting of the season between these cross-conference rivals. They last met at the Prudential Center on Dec. 15, 2010, with Martin Brodeur stopping all 29 shots he faced and Ilya Kovalchuk scoring a pair of goals in a 3-0 victory for the Devils.

Big Story:
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer made the first significant move in his first season with the team when he moved dynamic left wing Zach Parise to the middle, where he centered a line with the Devils' other star left wing, Kovalchuk, against Los Angeles on Tuesday. The new combination didn't produce any points, but Parise had some scoring chances and won 64 percent of his faceoffs.

Team Scope:

While the new line featuring Parise and Kovalchuk with right wing Nick Palmieri was quiet against Los Angeles, the revamped unit with Patrik Elias centering Dainius Zubrus and Petr Sykora accounted for three second-period goals as the Devils won 3-0 at Staples Center. Zubrus opened the scoring at 13:12, Sykora set Elias up for a nice one-timer at 15:31 and Zubrus added a second goal at 18:26 to complete the outburst. Johan Hedberg stopped all 31 shots he faced for his 18th career shutout and improved to 4-1-1 as Brodeur recovers from a shoulder injury.

"I thought they were good," DeBoer told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I thought putting Zubrus back on the wing where he's more comfortable, he did a great job. Patrik is off to a great start and I think that was Petr's best game for us to date. They were on tonight."

Coyotes: This is the middle of a stretch in which Phoenix plays nine of 11 games at Arena. Long-time captain Shane Doan reached the 300-goal milestone in front of the home crowd Tuesday by converting on a power play midway through the third period. It gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead over the Stars, but they couldn't hang on and fell 3-2 in a shootout, marking the second time this month that Dallas tied a game against them late and then prevailed in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.

"It stinks. I can deal with giving up a lead one time to a divisional team, but twice in a few weeks stings pretty bad," goalie Mike Smith said. "We either have to find a way to get that third one or the next goal or learn how to play with a lead. It's just one more save or one more play we need to make to come out on top of those games."

Who's Hot:
Elias has three goals in as many games for the Devils, and has four goals and seven points during a six-game points streak. … Martin Hanzal followed up a two-goal effort in the Coyotes' win over the Ducks on Sunday with two shots, three hits and a 58 percent success rate on faceoffs Tuesday against the Stars.

Injury Report: Already without center Travis Zajac (Achilles), the recent loss of center Jacob Josefson for 3-4 months due to a broken clavicle that required surgery led New Jersey to claim Ryan Carter off waivers from Florida on Wednesday. Brodeur has been taking shots in practice but is unlikely to play on this road trip, while forward Eric Boulton (sore right hand) is day-to-day. … Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival is on injured reserve after suffering an upper-body injury in the season opener.

Stat Pack:
Carter joins the Devils sporting career totals of 14 goals and 35 points in 189 games over parts of five seasons with the Ducks, Hurricanes and Panthers. … Doan joined Scott Mellanby as the only NHL players to reach the 300-goal plateau without ever recording a hat trick. Ironically, Sykora, who has 302 career goals, set the mark for the most career two-goal games without a hat trick, 38, before finally scoring three for the Penguins in a 9-2 win over the Islanders on Dec. 11, 2008.

Puck Drop: Doan is third all-time on the goals list for the Phoenix franchise which relocated from Winnipeg in 1996 -- he trails only Dale Hawerchuk (379) and Keith Tkachuk (323).

"Obviously, it would have been way better had we won the game," Doan said of his milestone goal. "I'm sure we'll figure out (how to take care of late leads). We'll get better at it. It's just disappointing. We can't afford to give up these points."

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