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If the New Jersey Devils are eager to increase their slim lead atop the Atlantic Division, the Washington Capitals should be the perfect opponent.
New Jersey looks to make it six straight wins over the Capitals on Friday when the teams face off at Continental Airlines Arena.
Martin Brodeur stopped 35 shots and Patrik Elias and Zach Parise each had a goal and an assist in the Devils' 4-1 victory at Washington on Dec. 22 - New Jersey's fifth straight victory over the Capitals.
The Devils have 10 wins, one tie and one loss in the last 12 meetings between the teams. Washington's only win during that span was a 3-1 home victory on Feb. 19, 2004.
The Devils have also won six in a row at home against the Capitals (16-14-7), who haven't won at Continental Airlines Arena since March 29, 2002.
Brodeur has been most responsible for New Jersey's recent dominance in the series.
He is unbeaten in 10 consecutive starts against the Capitals, with nine wins and one tie. The future Hall of Famer has 29 wins, 10 losses and four ties with a 2.03 goals-against average lifetime against Washington.
The Devils have kept Capitals star Alex Ovechkin in check, limiting him to two goals in five meetings.
Leading New Jersey's offense in the series is center Scott Gomez, who has three goals and 10 assists during an eight-game points streak versus Washington.
Brodeur moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time list with his 85th shutout Tuesday in a 3-0 victory over visiting Pittsburgh.
Brodeur and the Devils (20-13-3) held Sidney Crosby, the league's leading scorer, without a point.
"We played pretty solid," Brodeur said. "We didn't create tons of offense but we stuck to our game plan. We made sure (Evgeni) Malkin and Crosby weren't a big part of that game."
The win ended a three-game home losing streak for New Jersey, which holds a two-point lead in the Atlantic.
This is the third game of a very busy stretch for the Capitals, who will be playing six games in nine days, including a stretch in four different cities over five nights.
The Capitals lost 6-3 at Buffalo on Tuesday, before a 4-1 home defeat Wednesday to Montreal.
"It could be bad because we've got so many games," right wing Chris Clark said. "Or maybe we can bounce back because we've got so many games and we don't have a lot of time to dwell on it."
With four losses in five games, injuries may be catching up the Capitals. Missing from the lineup Wednesday were forwards Richard Zednik and Matt Bradley and defensemen Shaone Morrisonn, John Erskine and Bryan Muir.
"We're missing some guys and it hurts us a little bit," center Dainius Zubrus said. "It's a long season, and that's going to happen. We have to move on."
Zubrus is one player the Capitals need offense from with all the injured regulars, but he has been limited to two goals in his last 16 games.
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