newjerseydevils.com – Against all odds, the Devils have managed to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference despite a slew of injuries to key players.
The healing could begin in Philadelphia tonight (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM, when New Jersey is expected to welcome back forwards Brian Rolston and John Madden.
Rolston, one of the Devils' major offseason signings, has missed 18 games with a sprained ankle sustained Oct. 16 in Atlanta. Known for his shot, the four-time 30-goal scorer will contribute mightily to his club's special teams.
"You're adding a significant player to your lineup that you haven't had in six weeks," head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday. "It gives you more depth with a forward that you can play at the point on the power play, someone that can kill penalties."
Madden will return to action after being shelved for four games with a sore foot. He had helpers in back-to-back games before getting hurt on Nov. 20, and has collected three goals and five assists in 18 appearances this season.
The recovery of Rolston and Madden can only add more firepower to a Devils team that won a season-high five in a row before Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh.
Mike Rupp had the lone goal for the Devils (12-8-2), who averaged four goals a game during their win streak. Scott Clemmensen made 31 saves in his third straight start, and seventh in 12 games since Martin Brodeur was lost to a biceps injury on Nov. 1.
Patrik Elias has been a driving force behind New Jersey's recent surge. The left wing has points in six of his last seven games (4g-8a), averaging nearly four shots a game during that stretch.
Brian Gionta, Elias' linemate, enters tonight's game riding a seven-game point streak (5g-5a) that included a goal in five straight contests from Nov. 15 to Nov. 26.
New Jersey is tied with Carolina for seventh in the East, three points behind sixth-place Philadelphia.
The Flyers (12-7-5) are coming off Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win over Tampa Bay. Philadelphia is 8-1-2 in its last 11 games.
Philadelphia took a 3-1 lead over the Lightning on Jeff Carter's second goal of the game and NHL high-tying 18th of the season with 15:24 left in the third period, but Tampa Bay rallied to tie the game.
The Lightning then had a chance to go ahead with 16.3 seconds left in regulation when Ryan Malone was awarded a penalty shot after Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell threw his glove at the puck on a breakaway.
Malone's attempt, however, went wide when Martin Biron just got a piece of the puck, and Philadelphia won on Mike Richards' second goal of the game 2:05 into overtime.
The win proved costly for the Flyers, though, with Danny Briere suffering a severe groin strain that will keep him sidelined four to five weeks. Briere had missed the previous nine games with a groin problem. He has appeared in only nine games, registering five goals and four assists.
The Flyers began this season with just two wins in their first seven games on home ice, but have turned things around with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five.
Philadelphia beat the Devils 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Carter at the Wachovia Center on Oct. 25. The Flyers also won 6-3 in New Jersey the night before behind two goals by Hartnell and four assists from Richards.
They have won three straight over the Devils after going 3-13-5 in the previous 21 meetings.
with wire services
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