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Slumping Devils get importance of game vs. Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The New Jersey Devils will attempt to rebound from surrendering a two-goal lead in their previous game when they face the Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

New Jersey lost 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday after holding a 3-1 lead in the second period. Columbus leapfrogged New Jersey, which is in seventh place in the division with 30 points.

After a 1-4-0 start to December, New Jersey looks at this game against the Penguins as a chance to right the ship.

"I don't think we played a poor, poor game [against Columbus]," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think there were some things we needed to clean up, but we're in a situation where we can't afford to let one loss turn into two.

"I think we'll be good tonight and it's going to be a tough test."

The Penguins have won six of their past seven games while holding their opponent to two goals or fewer five times. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he expects to face a New Jersey team hungry for a divisional win at Consol Energy Center.

"They're coming off a loss in their last game, having given up two goals late," Bylsma said. "I think this is a response game for the Devils. They beat us in their building, they beat us pretty handily in that game. We're dealing with a team that has good scoring throughout their lineup.

"They have even-strength goals from their top line and 13 and 13 respectively from their second and third lines. Their penalty kill is third-best in the League, one of the best of the League, so it's what we expect from the Devils."

Bylsma said injured defenseman Brooks Orpik (concussion) skated before Pittsburgh's morning skate, but is still symptomatic. Defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) and forward Tanner Glass (hand) skated at length after Orpik.

Scuderi and Glass could return to practice in the next 3-5 days, Bylsma said.

Former Penguins forward Jaromir Jagr will attempt to improve on his scoreless outing from New Jersey's season-opening 3-0 loss on Oct. 3 in Pittsburgh. The 41-year-old forward leads the Devils with 25 points and 11 goals.

New Jersey will play in Consol Energy Center for the final time this regular season Friday, and Jagr made it clear he does not think it will be the last time he plays in front of a Pittsburgh crowd.

"I'm fine," Jagr said. "I don't get tired. I love the game. I'm not planning to retire yet. If I'm not good enough here, I'll go play somewhere else.

"I don't want to be anywhere but here and to play hockey."

Here are the projected lineups:


Dainius ZubrusTravis ZajacJaromir Jagr

Steve BernierPatrik EliasDamien Brunner

Reid BoucherAdam HenriqueMichael Ryder

Tim SestitoAndrei LoktionovCam Janssen

Andy GreeneMark Fayne

Anton VolchenkovMarek Zidlicky

Eric GelinasJon Merrill

Cory Schneider

Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Jacob Josefson

Injured: Ryane Clowe (concussion), Adam Larsson (lower body), Bryce Salvador (foot), Ryan Carter (leg), Peter Harrold (foot), Stephen Gionta (ankle)


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyPascal Dupuis

Jussi JokinenEvgeni MalkinJayson Megna

Chris ConnerBrandon SutterJoe Vitale

Craig AdamsZach SillChuck Kobasew

Olli MaattaKris Letang

Matt NiskanenSimon Despres

Deryk EngellandRobert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Suspended: James Neal

Scratched: Brian Dumoulin

Injured: Brooks Orpik (head), Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Beau Bennett (wrist), Tanner Glass (hand), Paul Martin (leg), Rob Scuderi (ankle), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)

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