The Pittsburgh Penguins are happy to have star center Sidney Crosby back in their lineup. The New Jersey Devils are just glad to be home.
New Jersey hopes to snap a season-worst four-game losing streak when it takes on Crosby and the Penguins at Continental Airlines Arena on Friday.
As one of the league's most successful franchises for more than a decade, extended losing streaks are rare for the Devils. The current four-game skid is their second in two years, but New Jersey (12-9-2) hasn't dropped five in a row since losing six straight from Nov. 2-14, 2000.
The Devils opened their five-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over Toronto, but went 0-3-1 against Pacific Division teams the rest of the way, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles on Monday.
Martin Brodeur had another strong performance with 26 saves in regulation and overtime, but was beaten on two of three shootout attempts. He hasn't allowed more than three goals in 11 consecutive starts.
"I definitely wish we could've done better," Brodeur said. "We played some good and bad games, but most of the teams in our division have done decent coming out West. You have to look at that."
Strong defense and Brodeur's goaltending have been the Devils' trademark for years, but the offense is usually strong as well. This season, though, New Jersey has scored an Eastern Conference-low 53 goals, managing more than three only once in the past 20 games.
"I don't think anybody's hanging their heads here," coach Claude Julien said. "You just have to work on certain areas that'll help you score goals, but not at the expense of your defense."
One player the Devils need to see pick up his play is captain Patrik Elias, who has been limited to five goals and is a minus-14, among the worst marks in the league.
Returning to the Meadowlands should provide a boost for New Jersey, which owns the best home record in the East at 8-1-1, including four straight wins there.
"It's frustrating how we're not getting wins," right wing Brian Gionta said. "That's what this team is all about. Everybody on this team knows how to win. Now we have to get home, regroup and get back at it."
Crosby returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three games with a sore groin and set up Colby Armstrong's first two goals of the season as the Penguins (11-8-4) ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh managed only five goals in three losses without Crosby, losing in a shootout, in regulation and in overtime.
"It felt pretty good," Crosby said of his groin. "It didn't seem to affect me."
Even Crosby's return, however, couldn't help the Penguins' power play, which went 0-for-3 on Tuesday and is 2-for-27 over the past four games.
Rookie sensation Evgeni Malkin was held without a point against the Islanders, ending his five-game point streak. Malkin leads all first-year players with 12 goals and is second with 22 points.
These teams have split the first two meetings this season with both taking place in Pittsburgh. The Devils had won four straight in the series before the Penguins' 4-2 victory on Oct. 24.
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