The New Jersey Devils knocked the Philadelphia Flyers out of the 2012 playoffs and extended that success in last season's lockout-shortened campaign.
New Jersey has gotten off to a rough start in 2013-14 but appears to be turning things around heading into Saturday night's matchup with its longtime rival, which will be looking to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat.
The Devils lost the first game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Flyers in April 2012 but went on to win four straight to advance. New Jersey then outscored Philadelphia 17-6 in going 4-0-1 in last season's series.
After opening 0-4-3 this season, New Jersey has won two in a row and is 3-1-1 in its last five. The Devils (3-5-4) scored twice in the final 1:08 to pull out a 4-3 victory at Boston last Saturday and held off Tampa Bay 2-1 at home Tuesday.
Martin Brodeur earned both of those wins with Cory Schneider sidelined with a lower-body injury. Schneider practiced Friday and could serve as the backup to Brodeur in this game.
"We want to keep this going," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think we've got a good feeling. We're starting to get a good feel about what our game should look like on a nightly basis and you want to keep that going, you don't want to take your foot off the gas when you're in those situations. That's the goal here."
New Jersey is ahead of only Philadelphia (3-9-0) in the Metropolitan Division, but DeBoer's focus is on his club's improvement and not its place in the standings.
"I think the wins and the losses will take care of themselves if our team game and our team identity is in the right place," he said. "It's been a work in progress. ... Over the last two weeks it's been getting better and better."
Philadelphia's play seemed to have gotten better with consecutive wins following a 1-7-0 start, but it fell 7-0 to Washington in a fight-filled game at home Friday for its second straight loss. The Flyers hadn't allowed that many goals in a regular-season game since a 9-8 defeat to Winnipeg on Oct. 27, 2011.
They lost forward Steve Downie, acquired Thursday from Colorado, to a concussion following a fight in the second period. General manager Paul Holmgren said Downie was taken to a hospital for "further tests and observation."
Philadelphia also lost leading goal scorer Vincent Lecavalier to a facial injury.
"It can't get a whole lot lower, can it?" coach Craig Berube told the NHL's official website.
The Flyers' struggles can be blamed on a lack of offense, as they've scored more than two goals just once and are tied with the New York Rangers for the fewest goals in the NHL with 20.
Ending those scoring woes may not be easy against Brodeur, who including playoffs is 7-0-0 with a 1.37 goals-against average in his last seven starts versus the Flyers.
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