|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|NJD||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
The New Jersey Devils have been one of the NHL's hottest teams since mid-November, winning seven of their last eight games, including four of five during a recent road trip.
Upon returning home, they'll get a chance to avenge their lone loss.
The Devils will try to make it three wins in a row Wednesday night when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins, the only team to beat New Jersey since Nov. 15.
When it was announced in early November that goaltender Martin Brodeur would miss three to four months with a torn left biceps, the Devils (14-8-2) appeared to be an afterthought in the stacked Atlantic Division. That seemed to be the case shortly after the injury, as New Jersey went 1-5-0 in its first six games without the future Hall of Famer.
But the Devils have looked just fine ever since, going 7-1-0 in their last eight games. After scoring 23 goals during a five-game winning streak from Nov. 15-26, New Jersey has gotten back to its typical defensive mind-set.
Following a 3-2 win in Philadelphia on Thursday thanks to an overtime goal from Patrick Elias, the Devils went past regulation again Saturday in Montreal. This time it was Zach Parise's turn to be the hero, and he notched his team-leading 15th goal to give New Jersey a 2-1 OT victory.
"I just think everybody's in synch," coach Brent Sutter said. "The biggest thing that I want to see as a group is no matter what the score is, the amount of time the game is, we've got to play a certain way, we've got to stay with that."
Parise leads the team with 28 points, but it's been Elias who's really stepped up lately. The veteran left wing has six goals and nine assists in his last nine games.
Scott Clemmensen has filled in nicely for Brodeur. He's 5-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average in six starts since Nov. 20.
"I'm not trying to go out there and do what Marty does," said Clemmensen, who'd only started six games in the past two years. "I'm just trying to go out there and play my game and give our team a chance."
The Devils' only loss since Nov. 15 came with Clemmensen in net in Pittsburgh on Nov. 29. The Penguins (15-8-4) took advantage of Sidney Crosby's second career hat trick to beat New Jersey 4-1, and Clemmensen - who's given up five goals in four career starts against Crosby - was impressed.
"Obviously this whole league is full of talented players, and then there's the elite players who are even more talented," Clemmensen said. "And when those guys are the hardest-working players on the ice, then that is scary good. Just scary good."
Crosby (13 goals, 28 assists) sits behind only teammate Evgeni Malkin (11 goals, 34 assists) for the NHL scoring lead. He hasn't scored in four games since his hat trick, but has recorded seven assists.
The Penguins, however, have lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 28-30, and coach Michel Therrien voiced his displeasure after their latest loss. Pittsburgh led Buffalo 3-1 at home on Monday, but came up empty in a two-minute 5-on-3 chance in the second period and went on to lose 4-3.
"At 3-1, we started to play horribly," Therrien said. "It was a horrible performance. That's the truth."
The Penguins are 5-0-1 in their last six games at New Jersey.