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Coming off Wednesday's loss in Carolina, the Devils look to get back on track tonight when they host the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM).
Martin Brodeur will likely be back in net to try and add to his NHL-record win total. Minnesota and head coach Jacques Lemaire are visiting the Garden State for the first time in more than three years.
With their four-time Vezina Trophy winner in net for nine straight games after his return from elbow surgery, the Devils went 8-1-0 and won their last four - culminating in a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Tuesday night as Brodeur set the all-time record with his 552nd win.
One night later, they rested Brodeur and suffered a corresponding letdown, losing 4-2 at Carolina despite putting 43 shots on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.
"It's been a week where it's been a high emotional week and for all the right reasons," head coach Brent Sutter said. "We'll regroup and get back at it. We knew what to expect."
The loss stalled the Devils' pursuit of Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but New Jersey (46-21-3) enters Friday having not lost back-to-back games since falling to Carolina and Atlanta on Jan. 6 and 8. It is 23-7-0 since.
The team also should have Brodeur back in the crease. He has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of the nine games since his return, posting a 1.95 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
The Devils offense also has been clicking as the team prepares for a run at a fourth Stanley Cup. Wednesday's game ended the club's nine-game streak of scoring at least three goals, and New Jersey is averaging 39.8 shots on goal over the past month.
Such numbers weren't common when Lemaire coached the Devils from 1993-98, although his neutral-zone trap helped lead New Jersey to its first Cup in 1995.
Lemaire's Wild (33-29-8) rank last in the league in shots on goal with 27.5 per game, and the light-scoring team is again relying on defense and goalie Niklas Backstrom as it tries to reach the playoffs for the third straight season.
Lately, that formula hasn't been reliable for Minnesota, which has allowed four or more goals five times in its last 12 games, going 3-5-4 to fall out of playoff position in a crowded West. The Wild are 2-5-2 on the road over that span, going 0-1-2 on their most recent trip.
They rebounded with a 3-2 shootout win at home over Colorado on Tuesday night, with Backstrom making 24 saves and defenseman Nick Schultz scoring the tying goal with 1:46 left in regulation - just his second of the season.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Wild, who go home to face Edmonton on Sunday before embarking on another four-game trip. They are 14-18-2 on the road this season.
They've never won in New Jersey, going 0-2-1 with a tie in four visits - most recently a 3-2 shootout loss on Dec. 3, 2005.
The Wild's only coach, Lemaire has beaten his former team just once in eight meetings, going 1-3-2 with a pair of ties.
|Mar 20 '09||MIN 0 at NJD 4||P. Elias|
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