The New Jersey Devils certainly aren’t suffering from any Stanley Cup hangover.
New Jersey tries to run its unbeaten streak to 11 when it closes a four-game homestand against the last-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
Teams often struggle the season after winning a championship, but the Devils have been one of the NHL’s top teams through the first six weeks of 2003-04.
Since getting off to a 2-3-1 start, New Jersey has gone 8-0-2 to move within two games of the longest unbeaten run in franchise history—a 13-game win streak from Feb. 26-March 23, 2001.
It was the third consecutive win for New Jersey, which has allowed just 12 goals during the 10-game streak.
“It’s one of those things where we’re trying to do the right things every shift,” Devils forward Brian Gionta said. “We’ve been bringing the puck to the net and have been fortunate to get some bounces and score some goals.”
The win was the 375th of Brodeur’s career, moving him past former teammate John Vanbiesbrouck and into 10th place on the NHL career list. Stevens played in his 1,613th game to move within two of tying Larry Murphy for most games played by an NHL defenseman.
With the lowly Penguins visiting Continental Airlines Arena, the Devils would seem to stand a good chance at extending their streak.
Since Mario Lemieux injured his left hip Nov. 1, Pittsburgh, the NHL’s lowest-scoring team, has lost six of seven while scoring just 13 goals. Lemieux is expected to miss at least two more games.
Pittsburgh’s struggles continued Wednesday with a 6-2 loss to visiting Minnesota.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the NHL rookie of the month for October, was pulled late in the first period after allowing three goals on nine shots. Since going 3-2-2 in his first seven NHL starts, Fleury, who turns 19 on Nov. 28, has lost four straight, yielding 14 goals in seven periods in his last three games.
“I guess it was good to try to shake up the team,” Fleury said of being pulled for the first time in an NHL game. “The last couple of games have been tough, but I’ll just try to work hard and we’ll get it together.”
While Lemieux won’t play Friday, the Penguins could have leading scorer Rico Fata back in the lineup. Fata, the surprise team leader with seven goals and 11 points, has missed three games with a hamstring injury.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 19): Penguins - 11 points, 5th place, 14 PB, Atlantic Division. Devils - 24 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Fata, 7 goals and 11 points; Lemieux and Konstantin Koltsov, 8 assists; Steve McKenna, 49 PIM. Devils - Jamie Langenbrunner, 7 goals; Patrik Elias and Brian Rafalski, 11 assists; Elias, 14 points; Turner Stevenson, 28 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 19): Penguins - Power play: 9.4 percent (8 for 85), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (63 for 75), 12th. Devils - Power play: 16.9 percent (11 for 65), 14th. Penalty killing: 89.3 percent (50 for 56), 2nd (tied).
SEASON SERIES: Devils, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 24; Devils, 2-1. At Pittsburgh, Rafalski and Gionta scored their first goals of the season and Brodeur needed to make just 17 saves.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 2-6-1-0 on the road; Devils - 6-3-2-0 at home.