Bruins-Devils Preview

The Associated Press

Few teams have been a more consistent presence in the playoffs than the New Jersey Devils.

Seven straight losses in the final month of the season has put that in serious jeopardy.

The goal-starved Devils look to avoid going winless in eight consecutive games for the first time in 21 years Wednesday night when they host the Boston Bruins.

New Jersey has participated in 15 of the last 16 postseasons, missing out only in 2010-11. That run appeared on its way to continuing with the Devils sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference - four points clear of the ninth-place team - on March 24, the day before their losing streak started.

That run of futility has dropped New Jersey (15-14-10) into 10th in the East, two points behind the eighth-place tie between the New York Rangers and Winnipeg.

Sunday's 3-2 shootout defeat at Buffalo left the Devils with an 0-3-4 mark during the skid, putting them in danger of going eight straight without a win for the first time since March 6-22, 1992, when they had six losses and two ties.

"It's really concerning that we can't just win. That's the bottom line," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We played one of the teams that we should beat, and I thought we deserved to beat them the way we played."

Brodeur has a point considering New Jersey outshot Buffalo 39-26 and outplayed the Sabres for numerous long stretches.

The slide has coincided with the absence of top forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who remains out with a shoulder injury but has begun skating with the team. The Devils have scored 12 goals in the seven games Kovalchuk has missed and converted three of 22 power-play chances.

"We have to find a way to win with the people we've got in the dressing room, and the people I have access to," coach Peter DeBoer said. "We should be able to win with the way we played and some of the things we've done. We should be winning games."

Winning and scoring goals won't get any easier against the Bruins (25-9-4), who have won four of five and allowed six goals in those games. Boston's goaltenders lead the conference with a 2.08 goals-against average and likely starter Tuukka Rask is among the league leaders at 1.95.

Rask turned aside 40 shots in a 1-0 win over New Jersey on Thursday and is 3-1-1 with a 0.95 GAA and two shutouts in five career starts in this series.

Brodeur is 0-6-2 with a 3.09 GAA in his last eight starts against Boston, which has won six straight and 10 of 11 meetings with the Devils.

Also struggling offensively lately, Boston posted a season high in goals with a 6-2 victory over Carolina on Monday. Brad Marchand scored twice and Rask stopped 40 shots for the Bruins, who can move past Montreal into the Northeast Division lead with a win in this game.

"As of late we haven't scored a lot of goals in games," Marchand said. "It's nice to come into our (locker) room after a good offensive game."

It was just the second time in 12 games that Boston scored more than three goals and the other came in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens on March 27.

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in eight straight road contests, losing six.

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