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GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (21-22-5-2) at New Jersey Devils (24-12-10-1).TIME: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Going through a brutal stretch of nine straight games against teams currently holding playoff spots, the Atlanta Thrashers hope to get back to .500 as they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.
The Thrashers are 0-1-1 on the stretch thus far, tying Colorado 1-1 on Thursday before falling the New York Islanders 3-0 on Saturday.
Despite being just six points out of first place in the Southeast Division, the Thrashers have just two wins since Dec. 28, going 2-8-2-1. The two wins, though, came against two of the weaker teams in the conference -- the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres.
On Saturday, the Thrashers were stymied by Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, who stopped 25 shots, including eight by Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 25 goals and 55 points.
The loss left the Thrashers four points behind the Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils have won three of four, including Friday's 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Relatively untested for the opening two periods, Martin Brodeur made 21 saves to match his single-season career high for shutouts.
"I was really in the zone," Brodeur said after moving within five shutouts of the NHL modern-era record set by Chicago's Tony Esposito in 1969-70.
"I knew these guys were really hot and playing well defensively. I knew I wouldn't get many shots and these are the kind of games where you have to really focus."
The shutout was the 74th of Brodeur's career, and the Devils' third in the last seven games.
The Devils, who are four points behind first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, will go on a three-game road trip following Sunday's game.
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