Few teams would want to face Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils at Continental Airlines Arena after being shut out in its previous game. The Tampa Bay Lightning might be one of them.
The Lightning look to continue their strong recent road play against Brodeur and the Devils when the teams meet at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
Brodeur recorded his NHL-leading 10th shutout Thursday, 2-0 over the New York Islanders, and will be looking to extend the Devils' win streak to a season high-tying five games Sunday.
With a league-high 34 wins, Brodeur has enabled the Devils (34-15-6) to take control of the Atlantic Division and close the gap on Buffalo for the Eastern Conference lead.
New Jersey is 15-2-3 since Dec. 26, piling up a league-best 33 points in that span. The Devils' 20 wins and 44 points at home are tops among East teams, and they'll be trying to use that home-ice advantage to match their longest winning streak of the season, set from Dec. 1-9.
"It's been a great couple of weeks and a great couple of months we are having as far as being consistent," Brodeur said. "We just worry about us and what we do."
The last time Brodeur faced Tampa Bay (30-24-2) , his 28 saves gave New Jersey a 2-0 road win Jan. 26. That was his last shutout before his 25-save performance Thursday.
Brodeur, however, hasn't been quite so successful at home against the Lightning of late. He's 2-5-1 with a 3.07 GAA in his last eight home games against Tampa Bay.
Brodeur is 3-0-2 with a 1.76 GAA in his last five starts against Tampa Bay, but two of those victories have come on the road. He's 24-11-2 with a 1.96 GAA, five ties and five shutouts in 44 appearances against the Lightning.
If Brodeur can transfer that road success against Tampa Bay to home ice Sunday, he could match his single-season high of 11 shutouts, recorded in 2003-04. Brodeur has four 10-shutout seasons and a career total of 90 scoreless games, placing him four shy of George Hainsworth for second place all-time and 13 away from tying Terry Sawchuk for first.
"When you think about it, it's hard to believe it's that high," Brodeur said. "You never expect to do that."
Brodeur will also have a run of outstanding play at home working in his favor Sunday. He's 6-0-1 with a 1.38 GAA in his last seven home starts, improving him to 20-4-3 at Continental Airlines Arena on the season. He's one shy of Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff for the league lead in home victories.
The Lightning, though, are 11-4-0 with three ties in the last 18 overall meetings with the Devils. Brodeur has started all but two of those games.
Tampa Bay's Johan Holmqvist had won four straight games and nine of 10, but was pulled Friday for the third time this season after allowing four goals on 16 shots in a 5-0 road loss to the New York Rangers. It was the Lightning's third shutout defeat and equaled their most lopsided loss of the season.
"We needed a good start," Holmqvist said, "and we didn't have it."
The defeat saw the end of Vincent Lecavalier's four-game goal streak.
Devils winger Jamie Langenbrunner scored in Thursday's victory to increase his total to three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak.
New Jersey is 0-for-14 on the power play in its last three games and 3-for-30 in its last seven. Tampa Bay has killed off 19 of its last 20 short-handed situations in the previous six contests.