NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 25th
(All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (35-11-0) at New Jersey Devils (18-18-10), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will play their
penultimate contest of the regular season when they visit the New Jersey
Devils for Thursday's clash at Prudential Center.
The Pens are assured of the No. 1 seed in this year's Eastern Conference
playoffs, but they can no longer win the Presidents' Trophy after Chicago
clinched the NHL's best record with Wednesday's win over Edmonton.
Pittsburgh had won seven in a row before losing Tuesday's 4-2 decision to the
visiting Buffalo Sabres. The setback dropped the Pens to 22-3 over their last
Steve Ott netted the game-winner late in the third period to help the
Sabres edge the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. Jarome Iginla and Chris
Kunitz each scored once in the loss, while Marc-Andre Fleury allowed three
goals on 32 shots for Pittsburgh.
"This is a week before the playoffs, we want to be sharp and we want to have
good habits and be playing that way and tonight, it wasn't," Iginla admitted.
Pittsburgh, which will cap its regular season on home ice Saturday against
Carolina, has cruised to its Eastern Conference standing while playing at
least part of the time without key players Sidney Crosby (broken jaw), James
Neal (concussion), Paul Martin (hand surgery), Evgeni Malkin (upper body) and
Kris Letang (illness).
Letang and Malkin were both back in action on Tuesday and Martin could also
return before the end of the regular season. Neal also is close to returning
to practice full-time, but Crosby is still sidelined indefinitely with the
broken jaw he suffered on March 30 against the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh is 18-5-0 as the road team this season, but has lost five of its
last six games in New Jersey. The Devils are 2-1 against the Pens this season
Despite winning the Eastern Conference title in last year's playoffs, the
Devils will miss the postseason for the second time in three springs.
Nonetheless, New Jersey has won three of its last four games and is coming off
Tuesday's 3-2 regulation win over playoff-bound Montreal. Martin Brodeur made
19 saves for the Devils, who received goals from Patrik Elias, Jacob Josefson
and Steve Sullivan.
New Jersey hurt Montreal's chances at capturing the Northeast Division title
and avoided being swept in the three-game season series.
"We know we're a good team. It's unfortunate we missed the playoffs, but we
still want to compete and prove we can play well," Brodeur said.
The Devils are 12-9-2 as the host this season and are playing their final game
of the season at Prudential Center. Jersey will close the season on the road
with Saturday's test against the New York Rangers.
04/25 11:01:13 ET