The New Jersey Devils have performed well in their last eight games, but their next opponent was the only one to hand them a regulation loss in the last three weeks.
The Devils will try to avenge that road defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks by extending a five-game point streak at home Friday night.
New Jersey (17-16-8) is 5-1-2 since Dec. 13 and earned a pair of 2-1 wins over Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders in its last two games. Martin Brodeur made 19 saves against the Penguins on Tuesday to improve to 4-0-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average in his last five starts.
Brodeur is slated to get another start Friday and will face a team that beat the Devils 5-2 on Dec. 23 with Cory Schneider in net.
"It's never fun to go into a building and not compete," Brodeur said. "We're not having the greatest of seasons, but we're competing in most of the games. That's one of them where we were not there, so we've just got to play with them.
"We played Pittsburgh well. There's no reason why we can't play them well either."
A different venue might help in this matchup as New Jersey is 3-0-2 in its last five home games. The Blackhawks (28-7-8) are 2-2-2 in their last six away from Chicago and will seek to avoid a season-high third straight road loss after a 3-2 overtime defeat at the Islanders on Thursday.
"We've been playing well at home so we've just got to continue that," Brodeur said. "The crowds have been great the last few games so hopefully it will be the same tomorrow."
Chicago's No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford made his return from a lower-body injury against New York and stopped 31 shots, but the Blackhawks could start Antti Raanta in this one. Raanta was 8-1-2 with a 2.27 GAA during Crawford's absence.
Raanta only had to face 12 shots against New Jersey last month. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, registered 37 shots while avoiding a third straight loss to the Devils.
Patrick Sharp had a pair of goals in that victory, and he has 18 points in his last 12 games (11 goals, seven assists). He assisted on Ben Smith's third-period goal against the Islanders, which completed Chicago's comeback from a two-goal deficit.
The Blackhawks, though, failed to earn a second point when they gave up a goal 58 seconds into the extra frame.
"I don't think it was a complete effort. We were sloppy in our own zone, and we know we have to be better tomorrow night," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We weren't clicking and didn't have our legs going, and weren't playing with as much speed and intensity. We have to look past it and be ready tomorrow night."
Chicago is 1-6-3 in New Jersey since 1999-2000 and took a 2-1 shootout loss in its most recent visit March 27, 2012. Crawford stopped 21 shots in his only start against New Jersey while Brodeur made 37 saves.
The Devils' stalwart netminder is 9-3-2 with four ties and a 1.96 GAA in 20 career matchups with Chicago and is 7-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA in his last eight at home.
New Jersey might be a little healthier for this game with Ryan Carter (leg) the likeliest to return to the lineup. There's a chance second-leading scorer Patrik Elias (upper body) and defenseman Anton Volchenkov (soreness) could also return.
The Associated Press News Service
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