Stars-Devils Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 16, 2011
The New Jersey Devils were struggling the first time they faced the Dallas Stars, but that won't be the case this time. Surging New Jersey looks for its fifth win in six games Friday night when it hosts first-place Dallas, which seeks a fourth straight victory. The Devils (16-13-1) swept a two-game road trip by beating Tampa Bay 5-4 on Monday and Florida 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday. Zach Parise had a goal and two assists versus the Lightning and added another goal against the Panthers, giving him 12 points over his last nine games. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves Tuesday. "It's a big win for us, a big road trip,'' said Brodeur, who has a 1.94 goals-against average in his last two starts after being pulled in two of his previous three. "I think we showed a lot of character. We played pretty good. We deserved it.'' New Jersey had lost four straight prior to its hot stretch. "We played really solid and we were aggressive,'' said Patrik Elias, who scored in Tuesday's tiebreaker to help the Devils improve to 7-1 in shootouts. "When you do that, it's funny how it works sometimes, and you end up on the winning side.'' The Devils fell 3-1 to Dallas on Oct. 29, part of a stretch in which they lost five of six games. They'll look for some revenge in this contest while trying to prevent the Stars (18-11-1) from continuing their winning streak. The Pacific Division leaders defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 on Thursday, as Jamie Benn scored the game-winner in the third after assisting on Loui Eriksson's first-period goal. The Stars improved to 7-0-1 this season when their leading scorer has at least two points. "I don't know. Guess it's good luck,'' Benn said. Each game during their winning streak has been decided by one goal. "We're at a point mentally that we know if we play a certain way, (we can) win,'' coach Glen Gulutzan said. Dallas is still having trouble scoring despite its recent success. Thursday marked the first time the Stars have scored more than two goals in four games, and they know if the offense doesn't become more consistent soon, things could change quickly. "All of our games have been down to the wire. We know how much things can change (in the Western Conference)," said Brenden Morrow, who scored his fifth goal. "A bad week can send you to 10th, 11th place.'' Solid goaltending from rookie Richard Bachman has helped Dallas overcome its scoring woes. Bachman is 3-0-0 with a 0.90 GAA in four appearances, the last three being starts. He made 25 saves Thursday after earning his first shutout with 34 saves in a 1-0 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. It's unclear if Bachman will get the start on back-to-back nights. If not, Andrew Raycroft, who is 2-7-0 with a 3.53 GAA this season, would get the nod with Kari Lehtonen still nursing an injury. Johan Hedberg made 20 saves for the Devils and took the loss in the first meeting with the Stars as Brodeur was out with a right shoulder injury. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner is 7-2-1 with a 1.60 GAA in his last 10 starts versus Dallas. The Stars have won four of the last six meetings, though they're 1-5-0 in their last six stops in New Jersey.
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