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A trip through the New York City area has helped the Nashville Predators rebound from a dismal start to the new season.
After their first shutout win, the Predators look for their fourth straight victory overall when they meet the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at Continental Airlines Arena.
Nashville (3-3-0) has dropped seven of 11 games all-time against New Jersey, with the last eight all decided by one goal. The Devils (3-2-0) won five of those contests.
Behind a season-high 38 saves from Tomas Vokoun, Nashville blanked the New York Rangers 3-0 on Wednesday night. Scott Nichol had a goal and an assist to back Vokoun's 17th career shutout.
"My job is to stop the puck," Vokoun said. "Goalie is your most important player. When he is not stopping the puck, it's tough to win."
On Monday, Vokoun made 26 saves and added two more in the shootout during a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders.
"We played a solid two games in a row, and Vokie stood on his head for us," Predators center Jason Arnott said. "That's what we needed. That's kind of road hockey. You just kind of muck it up, get the win and get out of the building."
Vokoun missed the final 13 games of last season with a blood-clotting condition before Nashville was ousted by San Jose in five games of a Western Conference quarterfinal. He struggled in his first two games this season, allowing 13 total goals in losses to Chicago and Minnesota.
He's since stopped 91 of 93 shots, and could continue that surge against the Devils. Vokoun is 2-0 with a 3.05 goals-against average in three games, including two starts, at New Jersey.
Arnott was a four-time 20-goal scorer for New Jersey from 1998-2002, and a member of the Devils' Stanley Cup-winning team in 2000. Though he scored Nashville's first goal against the Rangers, he's yet to record any points this season on the power play.
While with Pacific Division champion Dallas last season, Arnott had 11 power-play goals and 29 points with the man advantage.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur hasn't faced the Predators at home since Oct. 18, 2002, when he finished with 22 saves in a 3-2 overtime win. He's 5-4 with a 2.64 GAA in his career against the Predators.
Brodeur also returns home after a milestone win. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner made 37 saves in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, his 450th career victory.
"I think people always look at round numbers, you see 450 and you notice it. Now the race is on to 500, hopefully in a couple of years," said Brodeur, who trails only Florida's Ed Belfour (457) and future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy (551) on the all-time wins list.
Brodeur's shutout bid ended when he allowed rookie Evegni Malkin's goal late in the second period. With 81 career shutouts, Brodeur needs one more to tie Hall of Famer Jacques Plante for fourth all time.
Nashville will want to watch out for Devils center Patrik Elias. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime during Brodeur's last home win over the Predators, and has three goals and three assists during a six-game points streak against Nashville.
Elias also has five goals and eight assists in a six-game points streak at home dating to last season. New Jersey has won all six of those games.
|Oct 19 '06||NSH 4 at NJD 3 - SO||M. Erat|
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