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Devils-Penguins Preview

AP - Sports

The New Jersey Devils continued their string of strong defensive performances in their opener of a home-and-home series with the potent Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Devils, though, haven't had as much success in their own end in recent visits to Pittsburgh and will try to change that trend while seeking a fifth consecutive victory Sunday night.

New Jersey (7-1-3) has outscored opponents 13-4 during a season-high win streak and allowed only an early goal in its 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Brandon Sutter scored that for the Penguins (8-4-0) at the 1:23 mark of the first period, but they couldn't add to that lead and had a five-game win streak snapped despite having a man advantage six times in the game.

That's because Pittsburgh put New Jersey on the power play 10 times, the team's most chances since Dec. 28, 2005. Adam Henrique and Bobby Butler converted two of those in the third period.

"Whenever you give a team repeated power plays, it gets harder as you go along," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "We weren't able to get to any type of flow to the game or get into the offensive zone against that team. Again, with more penalty kills, eventually they were able to break through."

Devils first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau tied the game in the second period with his first NHL goal.

"I really like how we're approaching our preparation, how we're keeping our composure and the resiliency of this team. We always find a way to hang around, and we're getting rewarded for that," coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think we've played very well over the first 11 games.

"I think it's natural to take your foot off the gas after (winning) the front end of a home-and-home, but we can't do that."

Martin Brodeur stopped 24 shots in his third straight win and 1,200th career game, but could sit Sunday in place of Johan Hedberg, who shut out the New York Islanders in his most recent game last Sunday.

Brodeur has given up a combined nine goals in the Devils' back-to-back defeats in Pittsburgh, but Hedberg is 0-4-1 with a 3.98 goals-against average in five all-time games there and has allowed four goals in each of his past two visits.

New Jersey has been outscored 21-10 while losing six of its past seven trips to Pittsburgh, including a 5-1 defeat Feb. 2. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists for the Penguins in that rout.

Crosby had a six-game point streak snapped Saturday, his longest since a career-best 25-game run in 2010, and Kunitz's ended at four. Pittsburgh is among the league leaders with 39 goals and has scored at least one on the power play in a season-high four straight games.

Crosby and Kunitz were among five players who had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 home victory over New Jersey on March 25.

Evgeni Malkin was one of the others, and he has four goals and four assists in his last six games against the Devils. Crosby has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) over his past five matchups.

Ilya Kovalchuk has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last eight games against the Penguins and a combined four in his past two overall contests after being kept off the scoresheet in five straight.

Defenseman Andy Greene, who scored New Jersey's lone goal in the loss in Pittsburgh earlier this month, is riding a five-game point streak.

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