Penguins-Devils Preview

The Associated Press

The Penguins started the season with a home win over the New Jersey Devils, though Pittsburgh did suffer a major blow with the loss of James Neal.

Neal has returned, and apparently so has the Penguins' offense.

The forward will look to help Pittsburgh continue its recent scoring outburst Saturday night when it goes for a rare win on New Jersey's home ice.

The Penguins (12-7-0) lead the Metropolitan Division mostly because of seven victories in their first eight games, including a 3-0 win over New Jersey (6-8-5) on Oct. 3.

Neal, who had 21 goals in 40 games last season, exited that meeting early in the first period with an upper-body injury that sidelined him for over a month.

He had his best game since getting back on the ice with a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Nashville on Friday. The performance helped the Penguins end a three-game slide in which they managed a combined three goals.

"I think we had as many - if not more - chances last game and we couldn't find the back of the net, but it felt good to get on the board," said Neal, who had one assist over his first two games since returning. "After we got the first goal, we started rolling and we didn't look back."

Getting on a roll in Newark hasn't happened much of late. The Penguins are 2-8-2 in their last 12 at Prudential Center, scoring an average of 1.75 goals. They lost both games there last season, including a 3-2 defeat during their most recent visit April 25.

Neal has scored only once in eight career games in New Jersey, while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin haven't fared any better.

Crosby, leading the league with 25 points, has six over his last nine road games against the Devils - half of them coming in a 5-2 win on March 17, 2012.

Malkin doesn't have a point on his last two trips there, and has just three over his past eight. The star center, though, enters this meeting riding a six-game points streak - all of it coming on assists.

The Devils are looking to rebound after Friday's 2-0 defeat to Los Angeles, despite holding a 26-21 edge on shots - including 12-6 in the first period. They had scored eight goals in winning their previous two games.

"We probably deserved to have one or two in the first period," coach Pete DeBoer said. "We just didn't take advantage in the first. We're not a pretty group offensively. We have to score some ugly goals."

New Jersey has gotten by with minimal offense thanks to Martin Brodeur. The future Hall of Famer is expected to get the nod after winning his last three games - two coming in shutouts - while yielding two goals on 72 shots.

He's 8-2-0 with a 1.49 GAA and two shutouts over his last 10 home meetings with Pittsburgh.

Another 41-year-old - Jaromir Jagr - is one of three players tied for the team lead with five goals. The right wing has a team-leading 14 points, but was kept off the score sheet against the Penguins on Oct. 3.

He has six goals and five assists in his past 13 meetings against the team he won a pair of Stanley Cups with in the early 90s.

Jagr also has 120 career game-winning goals, just one behind the NHL record held by Gordie Howe.

Patrik Elias has three goals and nine assists over his last 10 at home versus Pittsburgh, setting up a pair of tallies April 25. He went without a point against the Kings following a six-game absence due to upper-body soreness.

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