newjerseydevils.com – The Devils will look to get back on a winning track tonight by trying to slow one of the league's hottest teams.
The Devils (7-6-2) have dropped three straight and travel to Washington to open a home-and-home set versus the surging Capitals, winners of four in a row (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM).
New Jersey has taken six of its last seven in the nation's capital, including a 4-3 shootout decision on Oct. 18. Zach Parise, who leads the Devils with 17 points (11g-6a), had a goal and an assist before adding the deciding tally in the shootout.
Looking to end a slide that reached three games with Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the rival New York Rangers, head coach Brent Sutter said Thursday he had yet to decide whether to start Kevin Weekes or Scott Clemmensen in net.
Weekes made 21 saves in the first two periods against New York, and was relieved by Clemmensen, who started the third.
New Jersey has allowed 15 goals in five games without Martin Brodeur (torn biceps) and its only win in that span came in a shootout.
"We've got to find a way to stay in the hunt," Sutter said. "We're not going to use excuses. The easiest thing to do is say it's injuries. The bottom line is, the guys who are playing have to be rock solid."
The Devils have been without defenseman Paul Martin for the last five games, but could see him return tonight. Martin led all New Jersey blueliners with 32 points last season, and will be a gametime decision in Washington.
Martin could help a Devils' power play that has gone scoreless in three games (0-for-9). They have converted 12.5 percent of their chances with the man advantage, scoring an NHL-low seven power-play goals, and have allowed opponents to score on 24.2 percent of their opportunities.
"We're playing hard and doing a lot of good things, but we're making too many mistakes," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "They're killing us and we're not capitalizing on our opportunities."
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals (9-4-2) are led by defending NHL MVP Alexander Ovechkin and league-leading scorer Alexander Semin.
Semin (13g-14a-27pts) has five goals and five assists during Washington's current win streak, and had a career-high five points in a 5-1 victory over Carolina on Wednesday. The fourth-year winger had 42 points in 63 games last season, when Ovechkin led the league with 65 goals and 112 points.
Ovechkin added a goal and an assist Wednesday, and he's scored in back-to-back games after going nine straight without a goal.
Semin had two goals in the Capitals' first matchup of the season with New Jersey.
The teams meet again Saturday at Prudential Center.
with wire services
NJD NOTES Besides Parise's two-point night in their last meeting with Washington, the Devils also got two-assist efforts from Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias. Johnny Oduya led New Jersey with a plus-two rating in the game, and added an assist. Brodeur made 24 saves as the Devils improved to a 4-1-0 record.