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newjerseydevils.com – Sole possession of first place is once again within reach for the Devils.
To take back the Atlantic Division's top spot tonight, they will have to win against a familiar face.
Scott Niedermayer, who spent 13 seasons in New Jersey, returns to the Garden State when the Devils host the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Prudential Center (7 p.m., FSN NY, WFAN 660).
New Jersey (30-20-4) is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo on Wednesday after having won its previous two games. The Devils are just one point behind Atlantic Division co-leaders Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Before signing with Anaheim in 2005, Niedermayer helped guide the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
The smooth-skating defenseman sat out the start of the season, returning to the Ducks' lineup on Dec. 16. Since then, the defending Stanley Cup champions have gone 14-7-3, including an 8-0-1 stretch from Jan. 2 to Jan. 18.
On Wednesday, New Jersey trailed 2-0 midway through the second period, before getting goals by Karel Rachunek and Mike Mottau.
"I didn't think we played that bad," said Martin Brodeur, who finished with 20 saves. "For the most part they didn't get a lot of great chances."
Brodeur, who made 33 saves in last season's loss to the Ducks, is 11-5-0 with a tie, two shutouts and a 1.91 GAA all-time against them. He's 7-1-0 with two shutouts and a 1.43 GAA all-time against Anaheim while playing in New Jersey.
The Devils scored 10 goals in back-to-back wins at home, including Monday's 4-3 overtime win over Pittsburgh. New Jersey rebounded from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to notch their first home victory of the season in three tries versus the Penguins.
Patrik Elias, who has six goals and four helpers in his last seven games, assisted on Zach Parise's winning tally 37 seconds into overtime.
Anaheim (28-22-7) defeated the New York Rangers 4-1 on Thursday, two days after beating the New York Islanders 3-0. The Ducks had averaged only 2.40 goals per game - third-fewest in the NHL - and had scored only five times during a season-high six-game losing streak preceding this trip.
The Ducks improved to 2-3-1 on their road trip - which continues Sunday in Detroit and ends Tuesday in Colorado - to move into a second-place tie with San Jose in the Pacific Division.
Anaheim continues its swing with its first trip to the Prudential Center, and first to New Jersey since a 3-2 overtime loss on Nov. 12, 2002. The Ducks have lost six straight in New Jersey since a 4-2 victory on Feb. 11, 1996.
Teemu Selanne, who rejoined Anaheim on Tuesday after sitting out the first 56 games while contemplating retirement, had a goal and an assist in the Ducks' last win in New Jersey, where Anaheim is 1-6-1 all-time.The Ducks and Devils last met on Nov. 24, 2006 at the Honda Center, and Anaheim skated to a 4-2 victory.
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