OTTAWA (AP) – The New Jersey Devils continue to struggle and are mired in their fourth three-game losing streak of the season. The return of their future Hall of Fame goaltender may inspire a turnaround.
Martin Brodeur, who missed the last seven games with a bruised right elbow, will get his first start since Nov. 18 on Friday night when New Jersey closes out a three-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
“I’ve been 100 percent for a while,” Brodeur told the team’s official site. “Just now, with three hard practices in a row, I should have shaken off all the cobwebs that I need to shake. I’m good to go, that’s for sure.”
Johan Hedberg went 3-4-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average, but the return of Brodeur, who is 6-1-0 with a 2.06 GAA in his last seven starts against Ottawa, may give New Jersey (8-17-2) a boost.
The Devils are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 18 points and have lost six straight road games, including Monday’s 2-1 defeat in Pittsburgh.
“You’re more at peace when you’re hurt and the team’s doing well, because you always want to be a part of something good,” Brodeur said. “When you see guys struggling, you’d like to be there to try and help.”
Ilya Kovalchuk is a minus-17 with more penalty minutes (13) than points (11). Kovalchuk has two goals and five points in his last 18 games.
Through 27 games in 2009-10, he had 35 points, including 19 goals and 16 assists. The Devils have scored six goals in losing four of five.
“We have to think about getting wins. We know where we are,” coach John MacLean said. “You have to get one, and then two, and go from there.”
The Devils haven’t won on the road since beating Chicago 5-3 on Nov. 3, and they have lost an NHL-worst 11 games away from home.
A win in Ottawa, where New Jersey has won four of the last five meetings, would change all that. The Devils have won nine of 10 overall against the Senators, who have lost five of six.
Ottawa (12-16-2) fell 5-3 on Thursday night against the New York Rangers, blowing three one-goal leads and allowing three third-period goals. The Senators’ first two leads each lasted less than two minutes, and Ottawa has been outscored 39-19 in the third period this season.
“We need to clean up that area for sure,” said forward Nick Foligno, who had two assists. “Third periods are when games are won, so we’ve got to maybe be a little bit more resilient, you know, dig a little bit deeper. That comes from within the team.”
Mike Fisher had his third two-goal game of the season, and Jason Spezza scored his first goal in nine games. Spezza has 19 points in 21 career games against the Devils.
The Senators ended a nine-game losing streak against the Devils with a 3-0 victory Jan. 26 in Ottawa.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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