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newjerseydevils.com – The Devils' recent swoon has them looking up at the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Atlantic Division standings.
A win tonight would change that.
New Jersey (42-26-7) looks to snap a three-game losing streak and regain a share of the division lead when it battles Pittsburgh tonight at Prudential Center (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM).
The Devils fell two points behind the Penguins, losing 7-1 when the teams met Saturday night at Mellon Arena.
Patrik Elias could be back tonight after missing four games due to injury and illness. Elias, the Devils' third-leading scorer (18g-32a-50pts), would be a shot in the arm for an offense that has struggled of late.
Including Saturday's loss, the Devils have been outscored 11-3 in going 0-2-1 in their last three games. They've gone winless in four straight games just once this season - an 0-3-1 stretch Oct. 18-27.
"Hopefully this is a wake-up call," said Martin Brodeur, who gave up four of Pittsburgh's goals before he was relieved Saturday by Kevin Weekes. "I think we've got to step up our game to a better level, what our competition is doing to us the last few games."
Brodeur is 40-24-6 with a 2.17 goals-against average this season, but he's just 3-3-0 with a 3.83 GAA in six starts against the Penguins, who have gone 3-3-1 in the season series entering the finale.
Coming off their lowest scoring game in nearly a month, the Penguins hope to have Sidney Crosby back as they try to clinch a playoff berth Tuesday.
Crosby skated with his teammates Monday morning, but ruled himself out for that night's game against the New York Islanders. A sprained right ankle has forced the reigning MVP to miss 27 of 30 games, including six in a row.
In the first five games of that six-game stretch, the Penguins (43-26-7) scored 27 goals and cruised to a 4-1-0 record. On Monday, however, they fell 4-1 against the lowly Islanders, failing to score at least two goals for the first time since a 5-1 loss at Boston on Feb. 28.
The playoff implications of Tuesday's game could convince Crosby to try to make his comeback against New Jersey, which is directly behind the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to be in net for Pittsburgh after Ty Conklin started Monday. Fleury is 1-2-0 with a 2.70 GAA in three starts against New Jersey.
with wire services
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