Devils host Blackhawks aiming for 3rd straight win

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Updated: January 3, 2014

(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.