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Jets play host to struggling Devils

by Brian Hunter /
DEVILS (12-11-1) at JETS (10-11-4)


Last 10:
New Jersey 5-5-0; Winnipeg 5-4-1

Season series: Second of four meetings. The Devils blew a 2-0 lead in the third period but survived for a 3-2 overtime win over the Jets on Nov. 5 when rookie Adam Henrique scored his second of the game 1:28 into the extra period. Patrik Elias also scored for New Jersey, while Mark Flood and Jim Slater had the goals to rally Winnipeg.

Big story: In his fifth NHL season, Ondrej Pavelec is developing into a workhorse in goal for the Jets. The 24-year-old Czech has rather pedestrian numbers -- 8-9-4 with a 3.14 goals-against average and .902 save percentage -- but is poised to make his 23rd start in 26 games on Saturday. Pavelec entered the weekend third in the League in games and shots faced (660) and ranked fifth in saves (595). He's also coming off perhaps his best performance of the season Thursday against the Coyotes.

Team Scope:

Devils: The opposition has pounced on New Jersey in two consecutive games now, as the Devils have given up three goals in the first period to both the Avalanche and Wild. While they were blown out in Colorado, they hung in until the latter stages of the third period Friday in Minnesota -- thanks largely to Johan Hedberg stopping 11 of 12 shots in relief of Martin Brodeur, who was pulled after just 8:17 -- before falling by a 4-2 final. In the second night of a back-to-back, it's likely Hedberg gets the start Saturday.

"I thought we deserved better tonight," said forward Zach Parise, who opened the scoring Friday. "We played much better than we did in Colorado, but we just hit a tough little stretch there where we gave them all three of them."

Jets: Playing in the Eastern Conference this season, Winnipeg only got one home date against Phoenix -- the franchise which had been the original Jets until 1996 -- and Thursday was the big night. The standard sellout crowd at the MTS Centre lustily booed the Coyotes -- with the notable exception of captain Shane Doan, a rookie during their final season in Manitoba before the move -- and erupted for a Bryan Little goal 6:53 into the game that held up in a 1-0 victory. Pavelec finished with 33 saves to record his second shutout of the season.

"It was a fun to be a part of game like that," Little said. "I think the crowd was really into it."

Who's hot:
Henrique has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak for the Devils. His linemates, Ilya Kovalchuk (2-2-4) and Parise (1-3-4), have three-game points streaks active. … Evander Kane has 4 goals and 1 assist during a four-game points streak for the Jets. Little has 6 goals and 4 assists in his last 11 games.

Injury report: New Jersey got defenseman Andy Greene back Friday after a one-game absence and remain without forwards Travis Zajac (Achilles) and Jacob Josefson (collarbone), who are on injured reserve. … Winnipeg added forwards Eric Fehr and Nik Antropov to its lengthy injury list Thursday night, as they missed the game against Phoenix and are considered day-to-day. On injured reserve are defensemen Ron Hainsey (lower body), Derek Meech (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (collarbone), Randy Jones (ankle) and Brett Festerling (upper body).

Stat pack:
Brodeur's outing Friday was the second shortest of his career -- he was pulled for Hedberg after giving up three goals in 8:00 in Carolina this past New Year's Day. … Slater went 10-3 on faceoffs (77 percent), blocked three shots and delivered three hits for the Jets in 16:49 of ice time on Thursday.

Puck drop:
New Jersey last played a regular-season game in Winnipeg on Dec. 29, 1995, dropping a 5-3 decision to the original incarnation of the Jets. Teemu Selanne and Keith Tkachuk each had 1 goal and 2 assists that night for the home team, while rookie Petr Sykora scored twice for the Devils. Their last win in Winnipeg was a 4-0 shutout on Jan. 19, 1994, with a rookie Brodeur stopping all 32 shots he faced.

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