W2W4: Devils vs. Lightning

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
3:28
PM ET
At a glance: With a chance to clinch a playoff spot, the Devils host the 11th-place Lightning with only five games left to play in the regular season. All New Jersey needs to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs is at least one point and a regulation loss from the Washington Capitals. The Devils are also in with a win, even if the Caps secure a point in a beyond-regulation loss to Boston tonight. Goaltender Martin Brodeur will make his fourth consecutive start.

Reunited: The Devils finally have forward Travis Zajac back where they wanted him all along. The 26-year-old center, in his third game back from an Achilles injury, will center a top line with captain Zach Parise and sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. Zajac scored the shootout game-winner in the team's 2-1 win against Chicago on Tuesday.

Back on blue line: Defenseman Anton Volchenkov returns after missing two games with a lower-body injury. The 30-year-old blue-liner declined to characterize the injury -- or divulge the cause -- but said he’s "ready to go" against the Lightning tonight.

Stammer time: For the fourth and final time this season, the Devils will face the league's leading goal-scorer, Steven Stamkos. The former first overall pick is out in front of the pack with a staggering 55 goals, a number that caused Devils coach Pete DeBoer to call him "maybe the best scorer in 20-25 years." The 21-year-old has nine goals and seven assists in 15 career games against the Devils.

Second scratch: Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson will sit out for the second straight game. The 19-year-old, who has struggled since returning from a back injury last month, was made a healthy scratch Tuesday and will have to wait at least one more game until he returns. Recently recalled Peter Harrold impressed DeBoer with his play Tuesday and earned himself at least another game against the Bolts.

Captain's back: Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier will play in his first game in more than a month. The 31-year-old forward has been sidelined since mid-February with a broken hand but is expected to return against the Devils.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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