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Oilers home after long trip to host Devils

by John Kreiser

DEVILS (23-17-2) at OILERS (16-22-3)


LAST 10: New Jersey 5-4-1; Edmonton 2-8-0

Season Series: The teams are meeting for the only time this season. They haven't seen each other since the Devils won 4-3 in overtime at the Prudential Center on Nov. 12, 2010. This is just the third trip to Rexall Place by the Devils since the end of 2001.

Big Story: To say the Oilers are glad to be home would be an understatement. With the World Junior Championship taking over Rexall Place, the Oilers haven't been home since Dec. 22 -- and they won just once in seven games during their marathon road trip, though they've been off since losing 4-1 in Dallas on Saturday afternoon. The Devils are playing on back-to-back nights and will try to make up for Tuesday's 6-3 loss at Calgary.

Team Scope:

Devils: New Jersey dominated the Flames for most of the night on Tuesday, but a rare bad night by goaltenders Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg was too much to come. Brodeur was beaten twice on five shots before being lifted, and Hedberg surrendered four on just nine shots as the Devils lost by three despite outshooting Calgary 38-14.

Brodeur wasn't happy about being lifted by coach Peter DeBoer just 7:14 into the game after allowing long-distance goals to Jay Bouwmeester and Cory Sarich.

"He makes his own decision on it," Brodeur said. I'm definitely not going to sit here and say I deserved it or whatever. … In a game like that, you've got to give me a chance to play. Seven minutes into the game, it's not over, yet."

Oilers: Edmonton was seven points out of eighth place in the West when it hit the road last month. The Oilers came home 15 points in arrears and minus its top two scorers -- Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- due to injury. With half a season to go, coach Tom Renney has to make sure his young team doesn't start feeling sorry for itself.

"With the exception of a couple of periods I thought we played pretty well on this trip," Renney said. "We didn't get rewarded for it and sometimes a team that lacks the experience and wherewithal to deal with it might feel 'What else can we do? What else can happen to us?' We can't fell into that trap. We have to press on.

"We can't have a 'woe is me, we didn't get what we deserved' because most of the time you do.

"Sometimes circumstances are a little bit beyond your control, but it's amazing what you can accomplish if you just knuckle down together."

Who's Hot: New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk has scored four times during a three-game goal-scoring streak. He's now tops on the team with 16. Linemates Zach Parise and Adam Henrique both have three straight multipoint games. … Taylor Hall is starting to show why the Oilers made him the first player picked in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has goals in each of his last four games.

Injury Report: New Jersey is without center Travis Zajac (Achilles) and defensemen Andy Greene (foot) … Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and Eberle (knee) likely won't return until after the All-Star break. The Oilers are also without defensemen Tom Gilbert (knee), Ryan Whitney (ankle), Cam Barker (ankle) and Alex Plante (concussion).

Stat Pack: The Devils scored their League-leading 10th shorthanded goal in the loss at Calgary. They also lead the League in shorthanded goals allowed with 12. … New Jersey is 5-1-1 in its last seven visits to Rexall Place and is 10-10 with five ties in 25 visits since moving from Colorado in 1982.

Puck Drop: Magnus Paajarvi, the 10th player taken in the 2009 NHL Draft, often gets lost in the shuffle among the Oilers' young talent. Paajarvi had 15 goals and 34 points as a rookie last season, but was demoted to Oklahoma City of the AHL after managing just three assists in 25 games in 2011-12.

The Oilers' rash of injuries and some solid play with the Barons has earned 20-year-old a recall -- and he feels the trip to the minors was good for him.

"I embraced it," Paajarvi told the Oilers' website. "I'm 20 years old and was watching from the press box. That doesn't do a lot. At the time it was the best thing to go down and play a lot, not think too much and get that rhythm back. I proved last year that I can play on the top lines and I played 80 games last year.

"The situation, at that point, was the best one."

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