Goals will likely be at a premium Saturday night at Prudential Center when the Florida Panthers face the New Jersey Devils.
The Panthers have gone 2-1-1 in their past four despite scoring just seven goals in that span and the Devils have gone 3-2-1 with just 11 goals in their past six contests. Both teams hope to find some goals in a game featuring two of the NHL's lowest-scoring teams in the Devils (26th overall) and Panthers (28th).
"We're getting opportunities. We've got to bear down. Against this team [Saturday night], you're not going to get as many chances," Florida coach Peter Horachek said. "They play a very structured system down low. They're not going to be easy to play against. You have to work for your chances."
If Florida does have one thing going for it, it's the play of its top line. The trio of rookie Aleksander Barkov and veterans Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes has accounted for 10 goals in the past 10 games, making it one of the League's hottest lines.
They'll have their work cut out for them against Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, who is making his second straight start after shutting out the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Devils coach Peter DeBoer, who spent three seasons behind the Florida bench, will again play seven defensemen Saturday. It's a strategy he's not completely satisfied with, but one he's willing to stick to for the time being.
"It worked. Not perfect," DeBoer said. "[Eric] Gelinas brought some help on the power play and some point shots 5-on-5 that we were missing. I think it helped that there was some special teams. We got to slot some guys in. We've got some penalty-killing specialists with [Anton] Volchenkov and [Bryce] Salvador. It's not perfect, but it's OK."
Tim Thomas will start in net for Florida, which could make some game-time lineup decisions. Dmitry Kulikov could sit after sustaining a facial laceration Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres and forward Scott Gomez, a healthy scratch much of the season who started his career with the Devils, could potentially earn a spot in the lineup.
Here are the projected lineups for the Panthers and Devils:
Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes
Jonathan Huberdeau - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Tomas Fleischmann - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall
Krys Barch - Drew Shore - Jimmy Hayes
Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski
Scratched: Scott Gomez, Mike Mottau, Shawn Matthias
Injured: Dylan Olsen (lower body), Alex Petrovic (upper body), Jesse Winchester (hand).
Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta- Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher - Mike Sislo
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Jon Merril - Marek Zidlicky
Scratched: Andrei Loktionov, Cam Janssen
Injured: Patrik Elias (upper body), Damien Brunner (knee), Peter Harrold (foot), Jacob Josefson (illness)