(AP) – The New Jersey Devils noticed something new before they snapped their longest losing streak of the season – confidence.
They’ll need some of it to carry over into a matchup with the Nashville Predators.
New Jersey looks to win consecutive games for only the second time this season Friday night when it hosts a Nashville team riding a four-game winning streak.
The Devils (9-19-2) defeated Phoenix 3-0 on Wednesday, scoring at least three goals for only the second time in nine games. Martin Brodeur made 29 saves to earn his first win in three games since returning from a bruised right elbow that sidelined him for seven.
“You could really sense that there was a good feeling,” said Brodeur, who has earned three of his five wins by shutout. “It was in the locker room beforehand and when we took the ice. It had been a while since we felt that energized.””
Ilya Kovalchuk fed off the energy and recorded his first multi-goal performance since Jan. 19 – a stretch of 62 games.
“You could see the effort right away,” Kovalchuk said. “We didn’t want to sit back and wait for something to happen. We had to make things happen.””
It was the first win of the month for New Jersey, which had dropped nine of 12.
The Devils may need patience against the Predators’ defense, which tends to feed off the mistakes of aggressive opponents and makes a quick transition into the offensive zone.
Nashville (16-8-6) rallied for a 3-2 victory Wednesday against San Jose, scoring two goals 44 seconds apart late in the third period. The rally happened so quickly, coach Barry Trotz was preparing for overtime after the Predators tied it.
“I don’t know if you think about getting the next goal,” Trotz said. “We just wanted to be really strong. There wasn’t a whole lot of time on the clock. So you just want to come back after that goal with some good momentum.””
Nashville now seeks its first five-game winning streak since winning six straight March 12-21. The Predators, who have also won seven of eight, trail first-place Detroit by five points in the Central Division.
Anders Lindback made 25 saves to move to 5-0-1 with a 1.50 goal-against average and two shutouts while filling in for the injured Pekka Rinne.
“Anders withstood the pressure very well,” Trotz said. “That should really help his confidence.””
Despite an 8-1-2 record and 2.16 GAA overall this season, Lindback will be relegated to the backup role once Rinne is healthy. Rinne practiced Wednesday for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery Dec. 3, and Trotz said he will be the team’s No. 1 goaltender upon his impending return.
Steve Sullivan assisted on Colin Wilson’s game-winner with 2:32 remaining against the Sharks and now has a point in six of his last eight games.
Cal O’Reilly, who is tied with Sullivan for the team lead with 18 points, hasn’t earned a point in his last three.
New Jersey is 3-0-2 in the last five meetings with Nashville.
Updated December 16, 2010
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