Despite missing two key players, the New Jersey Devils (13-29-3) still face a tough test against the Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-4).
Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will miss tonight's game as the Devils look to snap the Penguins three-game winning streak tonight at the Prudential Center.
Crosby will miss his seventh straight game tonight. The Pittsburgh captain sustained a concussion earlier this month, after receiving hard hits from Aaron Steckel and Victor Hedman. Malkin will miss the game with an undisclosed injury.
Before tonight, the Penguins had played 437 straight games (regular season and playoffs) with either Crosby or Malkin in the lineup.
The Devils still face a tough test against their Atlantic Division rival. The Penguins defeated the Red Wings, 4-1, Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Jordan Staal and Chris Connor staked the Pens to a 2-0 lead after one period. Johan Franzen made it 2-1 late in the second period, but goals by Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke clinched the win.
New Jersey continued it's turnaround effort, whipping the New York Islanders, 5-2, Monday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. The Devils hopped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, looking to have the game in hand. The Islanders pulled to 3-2, but New Jersey put them away with two quick goals.
The road win marked their second in three games and five of a possible six points on the road trip. In their past four games, the Devils anemic offense has come to life. The team has scored 18 goals, and Ilya Kovalchuk has five points in his last four games.
Pittsburgh's offense hasn't missed a beat with the recent injuries. Staal has recorded six points, including a goal, in his past three games. Kunitz has recorded a goal in each of the past three games. Even Tyler Kennedy is surging, with four points in his past three contests.
After sweeping the Penguins in the season series last year, the Devils are 0-2-0 against their Atlantic Division rivals this season. Pittsburgh defeated the Devils at home, 3-1, on October 11 and skated to a 2-1 win on December 6 in Pittsburgh.