With nearly three months left before the playoffs begin, Martin Brodeur has already reached one of his personal goals for the season. Facing his hometown Montreal Canadiens could be a good step toward his next accomplishment.
Expected to make his 28th consecutive start Friday night, Brodeur looks to build on another milestone victory by continuing his mastery of Montreal as the New Jersey Devils try to win their seventh straight in the series.
Brodeur made 22 saves and earned his NHL-leading 30th victory as the Atlantic Division-leading Devils (33-14-1) snapped a three-game losing streak with Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Florida.
Brodeur, who extended his NHL records with his 108th shutout and 587th victory, has reached 30 wins in a season 13 times.
"It's always my first goal when I start the season, looking at 30 wins," he told the Devils' official Web site after notching his fifth shutout in 14 starts. "I know that not a lot of goalies are able to get there in a full season, so when you get there, you're doing well. Now we're going to look at 35."
Brodeur is 21-3-0 with four ties at home in his career against the Canadiens.
The Devils, who have won 17 of their last 21 at the Prudential Center, will try for their fourth straight home win against Montreal (23-23-5). In the teams' last meeting in New Jersey, Brodeur made 17 saves and Patrik Elias scored the game-winner with 2:36 left in a 2-1 victory Dec. 16.
Elias will miss his third straight game Friday due to a concussion suffered in Saturday's 3-1 loss at Colorado.
While Ilkka Pikkarainen was waived Thursday after failing to live up to expectations, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire will likely continue to give plenty of ice time to Patrick Davis and Nick Palmieri, both of whom were called up from AHL Lowell on Tuesday and played important roles in the win over Florida. Making his NHL debut, Palmieri assisted on Travis Zajac's game-winner.
"They played regular shifts and I thought they both did a great job," said leading scorer Zach Parise, who scored the game-winner in a 2-1 overtime victory in Montreal on Jan. 9. "They made good plays with the puck."
Although New Jersey has not converted any of its last 21 power-play opportunities, any additional scoring chances could cause problems for a Canadiens team that has allowed 14 goals during its 0-2-1 slide.
Jaroslav Halak, who is 0-2-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average in his career against New Jersey, is expected to get the start Friday with Carey Price receiving treatment Thursday for an unspecified injury.
Halak made 26 saves in the Jan. 9 loss to the Devils.
New Jersey, though, won't have to contend with Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque, who was told by the team Thursday that it no longer needed his services.
"I told him that he would not be continuing as part of our group for the rest of this season, for reasons of lack of productivity and distractions to our group," general manager Bob Gainey said.
Forward Sergei Kostitsyn went through a full practice Thursday and could be close to returning for the Canadiens after being sidelined since Dec. 30 with an ankle injury.
"He's just waiting for the green light from the doctors at this point," coach Jacques Martin told the Canadiens' official Web site.
Benoit Pouliot, who found the back of the net in the third quarter of Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis, has eight goals and an assist in his last 11 games.
The Canadiens' last win over New Jersey was 4-0 in Montreal on March 11, 2008.