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Sabres-Devils Preview

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Martin Brodeur shows no signs of slowing down in his 15th season. In fact, he may be getting even better.

The 35-year-old goaltender hopes to be refreshed following his longest break between games all season when the New Jersey Devils host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

Brodeur is always one of the league's busiest netminders and again is among the NHL leaders at his position with 32 starts. This game comes four days after the Devils' most recent game, the longest stretch he's gone between starts this season.

Brodeur had a rare off night as New Jersey (20-13-3) opened a three-game road trip with a 5-0 loss to Vancouver on Dec. 18. He allowed all five goals on 24 shots.

The three-time Vezina Trophy winner, though, rebounded with back-to-back stellar performances, stopping 50 of 51 shots in wins over Edmonton and Calgary.

Brodeur made 30 saves and Patrik Elias scored 25 seconds into overtime Sunday, lifting the Devils to a 1-0 victory over the Flames.

The shutout was Brodeur's third this season and the 95th of his career, moving him past George Hainsworth into second place on the league's all-time list. Terry Sawchuk holds the record with 103.

While the rest of his teammates adjusted to new coach Brent Sutter, Brodeur also wasn't sharp at the start of the season, going 5-10-1 with a 2.74 goals-against average in his first 16 games. Since, then, however, he is 13-2-1 with three shutouts and a 1.74 GAA.

"We had a tough start to the season," Brodeur said. "We can't hide it, we started 3-6-1, but we came out of it and now hopefully we'll be a little more consistent."

Sunday's victory improved New Jersey to 13-3-1 in its last 17 games, a run that has given it a three-point lead in the Atlantic.

Excellent goaltending from Brodeur has been a must because the Devils have scored only 14 goals in their last eight games. Left wing Zach Parise, the team leader with 15 goals and 35 points, has one goal in that span.

The Devils, who have played an NHL-high 22 road games, play three of their next four at home, where they have won nine of 10 against the Sabres (19-15-1). The only blemish in that span is a 3-2 loss on Dec. 12, 2006.

Brodeur is 10-3-0 with two ties and a 2.11 GAA in his last 15 starts against Buffalo.

The Sabres are another of the league's hottest teams, winning a season-high six straight before that run came to an end with a 5-3 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa on Wednesday.

Jochen Hecht, Brian Campbell and Adam Mair had goals for Buffalo, which lost for only the fifth time in 18 games (13-5-0).

"It wasn't our best game" defenseman Toni Lydman said. "We have the kind of team that can beat them if we're playing our best."

With their overall win streak over, the Sabres will settle for going after a fifth straight road win. Buffalo, which has scored 20 goals during the four-game run, hasn't won five consecutive road games since winning 10 straight to open last season.

Ryan Miller figures to make his 10th straight start for the Sabres. He is 2-6-0 with 3.14 GAA in eight games against the Devils.

Right wing Jason Pominville has been Buffalo's most consistent producer lately, tallying two goals and 10 assists in his last seven games.

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