Devis, Thrashers Square Off

The New Jersey Devils have been playing their best hockey of the season. The Atlanta Thrashers are coming off their best all-around game.

The Devils look for their second win against the Thrashers in just over a week and third in a row against them overall when they meet on Sunday at the Prudential Center.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New Jersey -168 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 55% of bets for this game have been placed on New Jersey -168 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

New Jersey (13-10-2) has won a season-high six in a row, including a 4-0 win over the Montreal on Friday. New Jersey has outscored its opponents 22-7 during the streak, which included a 3-0 road win over the Thrashers (11-13-0) on Nov. 23.

Zach Parise had his first NHL hat trick and an assist for a career-high four points in the win over the Canadiens.

"He's been playing well lately," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said of Parise. "He's Johnny on the spot. He puts himself in good positions to score goals. Right now, he has the hot stick. Let's hope it keeps up."

Parise - the Devils' leading goal scorer last season with 31 - has four goals and four assists in his last three games. He also leads New Jersey in scoring this season with 12 goals and 16 assists.

Parise had all four goals and four assists against the Thrashers in a six-game span from March 2006-Oct. 13, but was held off the scoresheet in last month's win.

Brodeur also has been a big reason for the Devils' recent surge. Starting with his 500th career win on Nov. 17 against Philadelphia, the three-time Vezina Trophy winner has recorded a 1.17 goals-against average during the streak, and with two shutouts is tied with George Hainsworth for second all-time with 94.

Brodeur, who had a personal-best 12 shutouts last season and two in his career versus Atlanta, needs nine more to tie Terry Sawchuk for the most in NHL history.

This is the Devils' longest winning streak since winning the final 11 games of the 2005-06 season. But to extend their run, they'll need to beat the Thrashers(11-13-0), who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Kari Lehtonen, playing his first game after missing six weeks with a groin injury, made 33 saves in the win,

"I don't think you can ask for anything better than what happened to Kari," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "He was on top of his game."

Lehtonen was 0-4-0 with a 4.48 goals-against average in five starts before the injury. He's 4-2-0 with a 3.58 GAA in six career starts against New Jersey, but allowed six goals on Oct. 13 in a 6-5 home loss to the Devils.

Lehtonen also was helped Saturday by Ilya Kovalchuk's league-leading 21st goal just 34 seconds into the game. Eric Boulton, Marian Hossa and Slava Kozlov also scored in the first period.

Kovalchuk has points in six straight games in New Jersey, totaling three goals and four assists.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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