newjerseydevils.com – The Devils continue to impress at The Rock.
They look to stay hot at home when they host the San Jose Sharks tonight at Prudential Center (7 p.m., FSN NY2, WFAN 660 AM).
Playing a February schedule that has featured eight of 10 on home ice, New Jersey has gone 6-2-2, gaining points in all but two games this month at Prudential Center. Tonight is the second of a three-game homestand that concludes Saturday afternoon against the Islanders.
The Devils (34-21-5) have gone 4-0-1 in their last five and enter Wednesday's action tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division. They are just two points shy of Ottawa and Montreal for the Eastern Conference lead
Head coach Brent Sutter's group has been one of the league's lowest-scoring teams, but has used a recent offensive surge to climb toward the top of the East.
They were averaging just 2.43 goals per contest on Feb. 1, but have scored 3.67 in going 6-1-2 in their last nine games. The offense kept rolling on Monday as New Jersey beat Carolina 5-1.
But Sutter knows the Devils have more work to do.
"We're not satisfied," Sutter said after Monday's victory. "We have to plug away here, every game is a big game. ... The standings will take care of themselves as long as we stay focused as a team."
Zach Parise, who leads the team with 23 goals, has scored in three straight games. Brian Gionta, meanwhile, has two goals and four assists during his five-game point streak.
As the offense has picked up, goaltender Martin Brodeur has remained steady. He's 6-2-2 with a 2.06 GAA in his last 10 starts, and hasn't allowed more than three goals in a game this month.
San Jose will be looking to avoid a fourth straight road loss during its longest trip of the season
The Sharks (31-20-8) were 16-3-2 away from home on Jan. 1, but have gone just 1-4-1 on the road since and have lost three straight, including the first two on their lengthy trip.
Their visit to the Tri-state area began on Sunday with a 3-1 loss against the Rangers, then continued Monday with a 3-2 defeat to the Islanders. San Jose led 2-0 early in the third period Monday, but the Islanders scored three goals in less than eight minutes to hand the Sharks their fourth straight loss overall.
Evgeni Nabokov has started all but one of San Jose's 59 games this season, and has more wins (31) than any goaltender but Brodeur (32).
His play has helped lead the low-scoring Sharks, who average 2.52 goals per game. San Jose has only scored five times in its last three games.
The Sharks have been able to count on Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek all season. Michalek, who leads the team with 19 goals, has two goals and five assists in his last five games, while Thornton - the Sharks' leader with 68 points - has two goals and four assists in his last six.
San Jose hasn't visited New Jersey since a 3-2 Devils win on Nov. 5, 2003.
with wire services
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