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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 3rd (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (28-7-8) at New Jersey Devils (17-16-8), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New Jersey Devils will try for a third straight victory when they welcome the Chicago Blackhawks for Friday's clash at Prudential Center.
The Devils are coming off consecutive 2-1 regulations wins, posting a road win over the New York Islanders on Saturday before returning to the Garden State for Tuesday's decision over the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Another victory tonight against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will give New Jersey just its second three-game winning streak of the season. The Devils previously won three in a row from Nov. 16-21 with consecutive wins against the Penguins, Los Angeles and San Jose.
A win may be difficult to come by for New Jersey on Friday, however, as the Blackhawks have won four of the last six meetings in this series and recently notched a 5-2 home win versus the Devils on Dec. 23. Patrick Sharp had two goals for Chicago in that lopsided victory, while New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider was tagged for five goals on 37 shots.
Still, New Jersey, which is 8-5-5 as the host this season, has taken eight of its last nine home games in this series and goaltender Martin Brodeur -- this evening's scheduled starter for the Devils -- is 9-3-2 with four ties and a stingy 1.96 goals against average in 20 career games against Chicago.
Brodeur started New Jersey's latest game and made 19 saves to help the Devils earn the close win over Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve. Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder both scored and picked up an assist on the other's goal to help Jersey edge the Penguins, 2-1.
The Devils improved to 13-3-0 against the Pens at Prudential Center since the start of the 2008-09 season.
"We know that we can play with any team, we just have to bring it to the rink every night," said Henrique.
Devils forward Patrik Elias is questionable for Friday's game with what head coach Peter DeBoer called "total body soreness." He was injured after getting sent into the boards by Pittsburgh's Tanner Glass on Tuesday. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov has missed the last two games with the same issue and he is also questionable for tonight.
The Blackhawks, who lead the NHL with 64 points, have lost two of their last three games and are coming off Thursday's overtime setback against the New York Islanders. Kyle Okposo's goal 58 seconds into the extra session lifted the Islanders to a 3-2 victory in front of the home crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
Despite losing, Chicago fought back from a 2-0 deficit to gain a point on goals from Brent Seabrook and Ben Smith. Corey Crawford, returning from a 10- game absence caused by a groin injury, recorded 31 saves in the loss.
"The positive out of the game was Corey's play," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville remarked. "I thought he got us a point and made some real key stops late in the game."
Chicago fell to 13-5-3 as the road team this season. The Blackhawks have lost two straight and three of their last four away from the Windy City.
Antti Raanta expects to get the start in net tonight for Chicago. Raanta beat the Devils back on Dec. 23, stopping 10-of-12 shots in his first career start against New Jersey.
01/03 10:34:31 ET
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