DEVILS (12-4-0) at PENGUINS (12-6-0)
Last 10 -- Devils 9-1-0; Penguins 5-5-0.
Season series -- This is the second of six meetings between the teams. Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Niclas Bergfors each had a goal and an assist in New Jersey's 4-1 win over Pittsburgh at Mellon Arena on Oct. 24.
Big story -- First place is on the line in the Atlantic Division, thanks to the Devils' 3-1 victory on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks in Newark. New Jersey and Pittsburgh have 24 points apiece. But the Devils are coming in with a six-game winning streak, while the Penguins have dropped three in a row and were shut out in their last two games.
Team Scope :
Devils -- Everyone is contributing on Jacques Lemaire's club right now. New Jersey had three different scorers in its win against the Ducks, while Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner had two points apiece to lead the Devils to their sixth straight win.
They also haven't allowed a power-play goal in 17 straight opportunities -- including all six on Wednesday night.
"Jacques's penalty-killing (philosophy) has always been pretty solid and he's a smart coach," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "He can dissect their power-play a little bit and he does a great job changing things up a little bit in order to allow Marty to know where the shots will be coming from."
Penguins -- Pittsburgh has struggled mightily as of late and is returning home from a four-game road trip that concluded with three consecutive losses and back-to-back shutouts. The Pens were outscored 16-6 on the trip.
"We've got to find a way to score some goals," Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. "That's the way it's been going the last week or two for us. It's been a long road trip, longer when you don't win. We've got to find a way to play better."
Who's hot -- Parise continues to lead the way for the Devils. With two more points on Wednesday, he leads the team with 19 (8 goals, 11 assists). Martin Brodeur made 31 saves against Anaheim for his 10th victory. … Pittsburgh's offense has been stagnant as of late; Crosby is the team's leading scorer with 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) but has gone a career-worst five games without a point.
Injury report -- Devils defenseman Paul Martin (broken left forearm) is expected to miss at least two more weeks, as is left wing Jay Pandolfo (shoulder). Defenseman Johnny Oduya (lower body) and center Rob Niedermayer (upper body) are day-to-day. Neither played on Wednesday.
One of the biggest reasons for Pittsburgh's recent struggles is the absence of Evgeni Malkin. The Russian superstar is out for two more weeks with a shoulder injury. Also missing from the lineup: Sergei Gonchar (left wrist, 4-6 weeks), Maxime Talbot (shoulder), Tyler Kennedy (undisclosed, day-to-day), Kris Letang (shoulder, two weeks) and Brooks Orpik (undisclosed).
Stat pack -- The Devils are rolling with the second-longest road winning streak (8-0-0) to open an NHL season in history, moving within two of the record set by Buffalo to start the 2006-07 season. … For the Pens, Crosby has gone 307:17 without a point and is minus-6 in his last five games. … With the recent injuries to Letang and Orpik, the Penguins are now missing five players from their 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs roster.
Puck drop -- This is a tough challenge for the Penguins, who are both injury-plagued and offense-starved. The Devils are firing on all cylinders right now, and given their undefeated record on the road, Pittsburgh won't have much of an advantage on home ice.