Looking to Rebound

The New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins finished first and second, respectively, in the Atlantic Division last season, with each team compiling more than 100 points.

More than a month into 2007-08, both clubs are still trying to recapture that winning form.

The Penguins look to snap a three-game skid Monday when they host the Devils in a matchup of teams at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Pittsburgh -140 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Pittsburgh -140 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Pittsburgh rode Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby to a 47-24-11 finish in 2006-07, surpassing 100 points for the first time since 1995-96. Crosby is having another strong season, but the Penguins (7-9-1) have dropped five of their last six to fall into fourth place in the division.

The only Atlantic team with a worse record is New Jersey (6-8-2), which won the division with 107 points in 2006-07 - its fourth straight season of reaching the 100-point mark. This season's Devils, however, rank near the bottom of the league in goals and are tied for fewest victories in the NHL.

New Jersey will try to snap its five-game road winless streak in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins have dropped three in a row - one in a shootout.

On Saturday, Crosby extended his point streak to a career-high 16 games with an assist, but Pittsburgh fell 5-2 to Atlantic-leading Philadelphia. The Penguins gave up four power-play goals, including two in the first eight minutes as they fell behind 3-0.

"We've got to step up in some way," said Crosby, who has nine goals and 16 assists during his streak that began after his scoreless season opener. "We couldn't kill our penalties and it hurt us. We can't get down two and three goals. It makes it easier for a team to play against you."

Killing penalties could get easier against the Devils, who have converted 14.1 percent of their power plays, one of the lowest marks in the league. New Jersey is 0-for-18 with the man advantage in the last five games, although it didn't get a power-play opportunity in a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Martin Brodeur stopped 20 shots but failed to record his 500th NHL victory. He gave up the winning goal when the Devils were two men down in the third period, and allowed an even-strength goal in the first period after New Jersey turned the puck over in its own zone because forward Patrik Elias' stick was broken.

"I don't think they beat us," Brodeur said. "Look at the two goals they got."

Brodeur, the Vezina Trophy winner last season with 48 wins and a 2.18 goals-against average, hasn't had much success against Pittsburgh this season, allowing nine goals in the teams' first two meetings. New Jersey won 5-4 at Pittsburgh on Oct. 17, but fell 5-0 at home Nov. 5.

In 58 games against the Penguins, Brodeur is 31-20-0 with four ties and a 2.72 GAA.

Pittsburgh's Dany Sabourin was in net for the win over New Jersey - the first shutout of his career. Top goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gave up five goals in the Oct. 17 loss and is 4-9-2 with a 3.03 GAA in 15 games against the Devils.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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