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newjerseydevils.com – The Devils have moved within striking distance of the Atlantic Division's top spot thanks to four wins in their last six games.
New Jersey (23-13-3) seeks to grab a couple of valuable points tonight when it hosts the Atlanta Thrashers at Prudential Center (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM).
Jersey's Team is two points out of what could be a three-way tie for first place with the Flyers and Rangers by the end of the night.
Philadelphia, which has dropped consecutive shootouts, hosts Minnesota tonight. New York fell to 2-4-1 in its last seven with a 6-3 home loss to Montreal on Wednesday.
The Devils will look to get their offense clicking again following their 3-2 loss Tuesday in Carolina. The Hurricanes had a 3-0 lead by the third period, prompting Devils' head coach Brent Sutter to pull Scott Clemmensen on a power play with eight minutes left in regulation.
Paul Martin notched a 6-on-4 power-play goal with 7:48 left, and Sutter pulled Clemmensen a second time in the final period on a power-play opportunity.
"You're not creating anything offensively, so what have you got to lose," said Sutter, whose club has won nine of 12 at home.
The Devils were shutout in consecutive home games on Dec. 23 and 26, and responded by scoring four times in both of the wins that followed. After managing just two goals in a loss at Dallas on Dec. 31, New Jersey once again rode a pair of four-goal efforts to back-to-back victories.
Patrik Elias, one of the Devils' catalysts on offense this season, will be a player to watch tonight. Elias scored his 18th goal of the season and added an assist Tuesday to extend his point streak to four games (1g-6a), and tie Zach Parise for the team points lead.
His line with Brian Gionta and Dainius Zubrus has combined for four goals and 12 assists in their last four games.
"We're playing well and we know that when we do the right things out there that we can have chances," Elias said after Wednesday's practice in Newark. "We have good players here on offense and on defense, and we can be even better."
Elias had a goal and an assist in the Devils' 6-1 win over Atlanta on Nov. 1. Since Martin Brodeur injured his left arm in that victory, Clemmensen has gone 15-7-1 with a 2.25 GAA. Fellow netminder Kevin Weekes is 5-2-0 with a 2.32 GAA in his last eight games versus Atlanta.
Since losing 1-0 to the Thrashers on Dec. 23, 2005, the Devils have averaged 3.2 goals in their last five home games against Atlanta.
Atlanta (13-23-5) ended its first half of the season on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh. The Thrashers scored one goal for the fourth time in the last six games. They've gone 1-4-1 during this stretch.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 40 points, scored against the Penguins - his 14th goal of the season. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games. In Atlanta's two losses to New Jersey this season, though, Kovalchuk has no points.
Bryan Little, who has a team-leading 19 goals, was out for Tuesday's game with sore ribs after getting injured in the Thrashers' 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. Little is listed as day-to-day.
Atlanta has allowed three or more goals in five straight games and 32 of 41 contests this season.
with AP wire services
Devils defenseman Colin White (upper body) will be back in the lineup tonight after missing five games.
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