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Devils visit Capitals seeking home-and-home split

by Brian Hunter
DEVILS (7-6-1) at CAPITALS (10-4-0)


Last 10:
New Jersey 4-5-1; Washington 6-4-0

Season Series: Second of four meetings and the conclusion of a home-and-home that began Friday in New Jersey, as the Capitals got a pair of third-period goals and a 32-save performance from Tomas Vokoun in a 3-1 win over the Devils.

Big Story:
New Jersey's special-teams units have operated at opposite ends of the spectrum this season, and that continued Friday night. The Devils' penalty kill, ranked second in the NHL, shut down a potent Capitals power play on four opportunities. But their own power play, the second-worst in the League, not only went 0-for-5 but yielded a shorthanded goal for the second game in a row -- Jason Chimera netted the go-ahead goal 2:27 into the third with teammate Mike Knuble in the box.

Team Scope:

Devils: Adam Larsson, the No. 4 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft who celebrates his 19th birthday Saturday, picked up an early present in the first period Friday when he beat Vokoun for his first career goal. Later in the game, Larsson was rocked by an open-ice hit from Alex Ovechkin. He immediately headed to the bench, but was able to come back and finish the game. Martin Brodeur, who stopped 17 shots, will sit and watch Saturday for the first time since coming back from a shoulder injury as Johan Hedberg gets the start.

"I thought [Larsson] was good," coach Peter DeBoer said. "He got his first goal, which I'm sure was a big relief for him. I liked our whole team. If we can reproduce that type of effort and that type of attention to detail most nights ... we have to find a way to score, and we have to find a way to get our power play going. That's obvious, but we did a lot more right than wrong."

Capitals: Losers of two in a row heading into New Jersey, the first 35 minutes saw Washington fall behind by a goal and get thoroughly outplayed for stretches. Then, with a little over two minutes left in the second period, Nicklas Backstrom won a draw, Dennis Wideman put the puck on net and Ovechkin got position in front to send it into the open cage behind Brodeur, bringing the Capitals to life. They got Chimera's shorthander to start the third and Marcus Johansson added the insurance goal.

"I think we worked ourselves into the game there a little bit in the second period, getting the puck deep and doing all the small things right," Backstrom said. "We didn't the turn the puck over that much and then we scored that big goal there by [Ovechkin].

"It is always this type of game against New Jersey. They are a tight team and they clog the neutral zone and it is kind of hard to get through. At the same time, we haven't been playing the good the past two games and this is a step in the right direction."

Who's Hot: Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus each assisted on Larsson's goal -- Elias now has 2 goals and 5 assists during a six-game points streak, while Zubrus has 1 goal and 3 assists during a three-game points streak. ... Backstrom is on a tear, putting up 3 goals and 7 assists during a six-game points streak. Ovechkin has 4 goals and 3 assists over his last half-dozen games.

Injury Report: New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk will miss a fourth straight game with a leg injury, while forwards Travis Zajac (Achilles), Jacob Josefson (collarbone) and Eric Boulton (hand) all remain out. ... Washington got defenseman Mike Green back from a six-game absence due to a right ankle injury, but he collided with New Jersey forward Ryan Carter late in the first period and missed most of the remainder of the game. Green is day-to-day, according to coach Bruce Boudreau. Defenseman Tom Poti (groin) and forward Jay Beagle (head) are sidelined.

Stat Pack:
Larsson became the youngest Devil to score a goal since Petr Sykora, in his first tour of duty with the club, accomplished the feat at 18 years, 11 months, 9 days in the 1995-96 season. ... Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth is 4-0 career against the Devils and could be in line to start Saturday, though Vokoun made a bid for back-to-back appearances with his strong effort Friday.

Puck Drop:
New Jersey has dropped five of its last six games to Washington, but Hedberg was in net for the lone victory -- he recorded his 15th career shutout with 30 saves in a 5-0 win on Nov. 22, 2010.

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