By Chris Altruda
(AP) — As if the New Jersey Devils didn’t have enough problems already.
They will be without goaltender Martin Brodeur and with their punchless offense Saturday when they try to salvage a win in the finale of their three-game road trip against the St. Louis Blues.
Brodeur returned to New Jersey on Friday to have his sore right elbow examined. He originally suffered the injury Nov. 3, when he was hit by a shot taken by Chicago’s Patrick Kane. Brodeur then aggravated the injury in the second period of Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Toronto when he collided with Mike Brown and did not return for the third.
“More cautionary than anything to make sure he’s fine,” coach John MacLean said about taking Brodeur out of Thursday’s game.
While Johan Hedberg likely will get the start, Brodeur’s absence will put more stress on an offense that has totaled an NHL-worst 34 goals and perhaps pressing too hard to fix its woes.
Following Thursday’s loss, the Devils (5-12-2) held a players-only meeting after being held to one or fewer goals for the 11th time. New Jersey has been outscored 6-1 in the first two games of this swing.
“It’s tough to win hockey games when you don’t score goals,” Adam Mair said. “We’ve been shut out now three times in our last six games and we only got one tonight, so we’ve got to find a way to generate more offense.”
The Devils have converted just 1 of 36 opportunities (2.8 percent) with the man advantage on the road, with the lone goal coming at San Jose on Oct. 27. They have gone six games and 16 chances without a road power-play goal.
As New Jersey looks for answers, St. Louis (10-5-2) found some Friday in a 5-1 victory over Ottawa that ended a five-game losing streak. Brad Boyes, Carlo Colaiacovo and Eric Brewer scored 86 seconds apart in the second period for the Blues, who also tightened up defensively after being outscored 29-12 during their skid.
Boyes has six points in a four-game goal-scoring streak after being held to a goal and four assists in his first 14. For Brewer, it was his first goal and point of the season.
“It’s been a long time. I guess I better get more familiar with everything,” Brewer said. “The main thing is we got the win and we really needed it. It kind of stopped the madness. Now, it’s upward and onward.”
St. Louis is 7-0-1 at home and will try to keep its special teams going strong. The Blues have scored a power-play goal in four straight games after going 0 for 25 in its previous six, and the penalty kill was successful on all four opportunities after allowing six goals in 15 chances the previous three games.
The Blues are 6-0 versus the Eastern Conference this season and have won 11 straight against it overall.
Ty Conklin, who got the win Friday, turned aside 29 shots in a 1-0 victory over the Devils on March 20 in the most recent meeting between the teams.
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