Montreal (27-12-6) at New Jersey (28-15-3), 7:00 p.m. EST
NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) — The New Jersey Devils have the
chance to be in a position that seemed unattainable when Martin
Brodeur went down with an injury back in November – first place
at the All-Star break.
If the Devils extend their winning streak to five games by
defeating the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, they will finish
the first half of the season atop the Atlantic Division.
New Jersey is one point behind the idle New York Rangers, but
will have to solve All-Star netminder Carey Price if it plans on
leaping over its rival in the standings.
A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Brodeur has been out since
suffering a torn distal biceps tendon in his elbow during a 6-1
win over the Atlanta Thrashers on November 1. The rousing play
of career backup Scott Clemmensen has kept New Jersey afloat.
The 31-year-old Clemmensen, who has surrendered one goal in each
of his last two starts, is 18-9-1 with a 2.30 goals-against
average in 29 games.
All-Star Zach Parise looks to punctuate a stellar first half
that has seen him accumulate 27 goals and 26 assists in 46
games. The 24-year-old also helped the Devils notch a 5-1-0
record on their recent season-long, six-game road trip.
Montreal, which has won six of eight, is coming off a 4-2
setback against the Thrashers on Tuesday. Price made his return
to the ice after an eight-game layoff caused by a sprained right
ankle, but not in the way the Canadiens had hoped.
After backup Jaroslav Halak coughed up three goals, Price
entered the game early in the second period but was not able to
extend Montreal’s two-game winning run.
For the Canadiens, who have dropped two of three on the road,
this marks the third contest of a five-game trek.