OTTAWA (17-12-4) at DEVILS (23-8-1)
Last 10 – Ottawa 4-5-1; New Jersey 8-2-0
Season series – The Devils have won the previous two meetings between the clubs – 3-2 on Nov. 7 in Ottawa and 3-1 on Nov. 25 in New Jersey. In the most recent clash, Brodeur made 24 saves, including 12 in the third period, and Patrik Elias scored the game-winner with 1:26 remaining in the second.
Big Story – With the Senators minus the services of top-line centre Jason Spezza, perhaps now is as good a time as any for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur to establish the new record for career shutouts. He's currently tied with Hockey Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk with 103 career shutouts and will set the NHL mark for games played by a goaltender with 1,030 when he makes his next start (he's currently tied with Patrick Roy).
"Eventually, by winning a game, I'll have a shutout," Brodeur said following his team's 2-1 victory over Montreal on Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to it."
The Senators don't intend for it to happen tonight.
"We're going to make (Brodeur's) life as miserable as possible," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "Or try, anyways."
Senators – Clouston moved fourth-liner Jesse Winchester to the top unit alongside Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek in the absence of Spezza. The perennial 30-goal scorer will be sidelined the next two months with a torn MCL in his right knee. He was injured in the last minute of Monday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a 2-0 victory over Buffalo on Wednesday, Winchester was given a season-high 18:55 of ice time.
"I just tried to play the same way," Winchester said. "Alfie told me to do what I do, play strong, play physically in the corners. I think we had a pretty good game all around. We didn't score, but we generated lots of chances."
Devils – While there's plenty to get excited about in New Jersey – the Devils are currently second in the Eastern Conference with 47 points – the one concern is that left wing Zach Parise has gone eight games without a goal.
"I guess it means you've done the right things for a while," Parise said. "I laugh, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about it. But I'm not worried because I know it's going to end soon. I don't let it bother me because I know that I'm doing the right things out there. I know I can be shooting a little more.
"Most importantly, we're winning, which makes it a little easier for everybody. It's comforting knowing I'm playing well. I know I feel good on the ice. Every game, I have two or three good chances. I'm getting my deflections I usually get. For whatever reason, they're not going in. But I'm in the right frame of mind."
Who's Hot – Elias has four goals and an assist in the last five games and rookie wing Vladimir Zharkov has five assists in the last seven … Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott has notched two shutouts in his last four starts, giving him three for his career. He'll make his 14th straight start tonight.
Injury Report – The Devils are without forwards David Clarkson (ankle) and Dainius Zubrus (fractured right kneecap) and defensemen Paul Martin (broken arm) … For the Senators, Spezza, fellow forwards Chris Neil (knee) and Shean Donovan (knee) and goalie Pascal Leclaire (fractured cheekbone) are out. Left wing Nick Foligno is out at least two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery today to repair a small meniscus tear in his right knee.
Stat Pack – With Brodeur manning the net, the Devils have won two straight, six of their last seven and nine of their last 11.
Puck Drop – This will be Brodeur's last chance to set the shutout record on home ice before the team embarks on a three-game road trip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington. The Devils are then home to the Thrashers on Dec. 28 and the Penguins on Dec. 30.