GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (9-23-5-3) at New Jersey Devils (20-8-9-1).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Maybe playing a few games at Continental Airlines Arena is just what the New
Jersey Devils need to get themselves back on track.
After winning for only the second time in seven games, the Devils continue a
three-game homestand when they take on a Pittsburgh Penguins team that will be
without Mario Lemieux for the remainder of the season.
The defending Stanley Cup champions returned to the Meadowlands following a
1-2-1 road trip and posted a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on
Patrik Elias set up Sergei Brylin's tying goal late in the third period,
then scored 41 seconds into the extra period for New Jersey. The Devils' only
victory on their recent trip was a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 27.
"We were a little desperate, down 2-1," Brylin said. "We needed a win so
badly after the road losses. Hopefully this game will help turn things around a
Martin Brodeur made 23 saves to gain his first win in six starts (1-3-2).
Last season's Vezina Trophy winner has given up 16 goals during that span after
going 6-1-1 with four shutouts and 11 goals allowed in his previous eight
Right wing Turner Stevenson scored on a power play early in the first period
Monday after missing the previous 12 games with a groin injury.
The win moved New Jersey within three points of first-place Philadelphia in
the Atlantic Division. Behind the Devils are the New York Islanders, who have
gone 10-3-1-1 in their last 15 to put some pressure on the defending champs.
"I think we're a little tight around here," Stevenson said. "We haven't
gotten the points that we needed. We need to keep pace with the teams up top,
and the all the teams below are starting to win so we have to start winning."
The Devils, 7-2-1 in their last 10 at Continental Airlines Arena, close out
their homestand against Tampa Bay on Friday.
The Penguins learned Tuesday that they will be without Lemieux, who will
have surgery next week on his troublesome left hip, for the remainder of the
season. Lemieux, who doesn't plan to retire, hasn't played since Nov. 1.
The announcement was yet another blow to the lowly Pens, who open a two-game
road swing after dropping their fourth straight in embarrassing fashion, 5-0 to
Toronto on Monday.
Pittsburgh, with an NHL-low nine victories and 26 points, has been outscored
18-4 during the losing streak and is 1-7-1-1 in its last 10.
"I think up to this point, we've had a good effort," defenseman Brooks
Orpik said after the loss to the Maple Leafs. "I think this was the first time
all year guys got away from our (defensive) system, and you've got to stick to
it. We've got a lot of young guys, but how long can you use that excuse?"
The Penguins, who close the trip at Boston on Thursday, are 0-9-1-3 in their
last 13 on the road -- allowing 52 goals during that span.