The New Jersey Devils have been one of the NHL's hottest teams this month. That momentum should come in handy when they face the rival New York Rangers, who have dominated the series lately.
The Devils seek their fourth straight win overall and their first victory this season against the Rangers when the teams meet Friday at the Prudential Center.
New Jersey (15-8-2) is eight points behind the Rangers (19-10-2) in the Atlantic Division, but has been on a roll recently, winning three straight and eight of nine, including a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The Devils have given up four goals in the last three games, with all three wins coming against teams with better records.
"If you want to be a good team you've got to beat good teams," coach Brent Sutter said. "We have to be able to play at their levels and better if you want to give yourselves a chance to be successful."
New Jersey is hoping to continue its strong defensive play after struggling to contain the Rangers in the teams' first two meetings. New York has beaten the Devils in both matchups this season, outscoring them 9-3, and has recorded at least one point in the last 11 meetings, going 9-0-2 during that stretch.
The Devils have won four in a row at home since a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Nov. 12.
Scott Clemmensen figures to be in net for New Jersey in his first start against the Rangers since a shootout loss on Nov. 5, 2005.
Clemmensen is 7-1-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average in his last eight starts. He had one of his best performances of the season on Wednesday, making 26 saves and nearly recording his first career shutout before the Penguins scored with 3:58 remaining. Prior to this season, Clemmensen had started 19 games over his previous five years in the NHL.
"It's been great. He's a guy that paid his dues," captain Jamie Langenbrunner said of Clemmensen. "It's great to see him get the opportunity and run with it."
The Division-leading Rangers seek their second straight victory after beating Atlanta 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday.
Scott Gomez scored 18 seconds into the extra period and Colton Orr and Ryan Callahan also had goals for New York, which had lost three of four - getting shut out twice in that span.
"It was a first step back," coach Tom Renney said. "It's an important two points. The biggest thing for us is to make sure we get up to the net."
The Rangers are averaging 1.6 goals in their last five games, during which they've gone 1-for-15 on the power play. Nikolai Zherdev, who leads the team with 16 assists and 25 points, has one goal and one assist in the last five contests.
Backup goalie Stephen Valiquette started Wednesday, meaning Henrik Lundqvist likely be back in net Friday looking to continue his success against the Devils. Lundqvist is 9-0-2 with a 1.24 GAA and two shutouts in his last 11 starts versus New Jersey. He hasn't lost to the Devils in regulation since Feb. 20, 2007.
Lundqvist has lost three of his last four overall starts, though, including his last two outings.