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Devils try to get back on road track against Stars

by Mike G. Morreale /

DEVILS (14-5-1) at STARS (9-6-6)

Last 10 -- New Jersey 8-1-1; Dallas 4-4-2

Season series -- The teams will be meeting for the first time this season after splitting the season series in 2008-09. Dallas forward Mike Modano has a team-leading 7 goals in 28 career games against New Jersey and Devils forward Brian Rolston has a team-leading 9 goals in 27 career matches against the Stars.

Big Story -- The Devils enter the final game of a three-game road trip not only having lost two straight but another player to injury -- center Dainius Zubrus. He exited the team's 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators 1:04 into the second after blocking a shot. The Devils entered Philadelphia on Monday riding a nine-game road winning streak and needed one more triumph to equal the NHL record set by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres but the club lost, 3-2. The Devils followed that with a shootout loss to the Predators on Thursday.

"It's just getting worse and worse," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said of his team's mounting injuries. "I don't know where it's going to stop, but we still have to do our best."

Team Scope:

Devils -- Right wing Patrik Elias, who missed the first 13 games of the season and 14 of the first 15 games recovering from groin surgery, had his first two points of the season on Monday in Philadelphia, assisting on both Devils goals in a 3-2 loss. He then notched another assist on Thursday against Nashville.

"It's always good to get yourself going a little bit somehow," he said. "I know what I'm capable of and that's going to come with time. It is my fifth game in six months for me (after) skating (for) two weeks with the guys. It's just going to come. I'm not putting any pressure on myself."

Stars -- After such an impressive 3-1 victory in Detroit on Wednesday, Dallas stumbled in a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Jackets scored three power-play goals in the triumph after Dallas had killed 17 consecutive penalties entering the game.

"(Columbus) played hard and we didn't really have an answer for it," said Modano, who has points in his last four games. "We looked a little fatigued, but there's really no reason for it. We've had a few days off, and not a lot of guys played high minutes (in Detroit). It's unfortunate, playing such a good game in Detroit, to come back and have that effort."

Who's Hot -- The Devils' Zach Parise scored both goals Thursday night to extend his franchise-tying goal-scoring streak to six games -- he has 7 goals over that stretch and 13 for the season. Devils wing Jamie Langenbrunner has 2 goals and 7 points in the last six games.

For Dallas, left wing James Neal has notched at least one point in 10 of the last 11 games (8 goals, 15 points), but the Stars will have to do without him for two games as he was suspended Friday for a hit from behind in the Columbus game that resulted in a major and game misconduct.

Injury Report -- The Stars will be without forwards Fabian Brunnstrom (shoulder) and Brian Sutherby (groin), as well as missing Neal to suspension. The Devils are without defensemen Johnny Oduya (lower body, indefinite) and Paul Martin (forearm fracture, three weeks) and forwards Rob Niedermayer (upper body, indefinite), Jay Pandolfo (shoulder, three weeks) and Zubrus (right leg).

Stat Pack --
Devils center Travis Zajac might not have a goal in eight straight games, but he has dished six assists over that stretch, including the 100th assist of his career in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators on Thursday. He was also the only Devil to score in the shootout when he flipped a blind backhand into the net after initially losing control of the puck.

Puck Drop -- When the Devils lost Zubrus in the second period of Thursday's loss to the Predators, coach Jacques Lemaire moved fourth-liner Dean McAmmond to the top line alongside Zach Parise and Elias in the third. It remains to be seen if that line remains together against a Stars' club that is 3-3-3 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

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