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Devils shoot for road sweep in Washington @NHLdotcom

DEVILS (2-2-0) at CAPITALS (2-2-1)

Season Series:
First of four meetings this season. Washington went 2-0-2 against New Jersey last season, with both of the Devils' wins coming in shootouts. Martin Brodeur was on the shelf for three of the games and won his only start against the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Elias each scored three goals in the series.

Big Story: New Jersey will be attempting to sweep a three-game road trip after opening the season with consecutive losses at home. Accomplishing that will mean extending Washington's miseries -- a 3-2 loss in Detroit on Saturday was the Capitals' third straight one-goal defeat, though they did get a point out of a shootout with Philadelphia.

Team Scope:

Devils: The Sunshine State seemed to shake New Jersey out of its doldrums, although the Devils gave up 44 shots and needed a last-second rally and shootout win to shake Tampa Bay. They played more the style coach Jacques Lemaire would like against Florida, outshooting the Panthers 41-21 and winning on a late power-play goal by David Clarkson.

"It's a team thing. It's a chemistry thing," Brodeur told the Newark Star-Ledger. "We have a lot of new faces. I don't know the exact number. It takes time to get to know each other. The only way is to spend time on the plane, on the bus, eating dinner and playing some games. That goes a long way."

Capitals: Washington appeared unstoppable during a 2-0-1 start in which Ovechkin registered three points in each game. But the Capitals' 6-5 loss to the Flyers has started a string of narrow defeats, with No. 8 being held to a single assist and a minus-1 rating in the last two games.

"We have some kinks to work out," defenseman Brian Pothier said. "We have some things we need to address. I don't think anybody’s hit the panic button, but there are things we need to address and it’s good that we identify them this early so we can address them."

Who's Hot: New Jersey center Travis Zajac appears poised for a breakout season with three goals already -- two on the power play and a sixth-attacker goal with one second left in regulation against Tampa Bay that sparked the Devils to a shootout victory.

Washington's power play has connected at least once in every game this season. Brooks Laich leads the Capitals with two power-play goals.

Injury Report: Elias remains out for the Devils as he recovers from arthroscopic groin surgery in mid-September. Defenseman Mark Fraser is skating again after suffering a head injury during a preseason fight.

For the Capitals, left wing Tomas Fleischmann has yet to play this season due to a blood clot in his leg.

Stat Pack:
Forward Rob Niedermayer has two goals in his first four games with the Devils. His brother, Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer, is New Jersey's franchise leader among blueliners in goals, assists and points.

Puck Drop: Verizon Center is one of the toughest buildings in the League for a road team to come out of with a victory. It could be the Devils are catching the Capitals in the middle of a slump, but more likely the home team will come out ready to play and New Jersey will have to match its intensity.

-- Brian Hunter,


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