Final SO

Series (Game 2 of 2)

Chicago leads 2-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 31st
Game 2: Friday, April 2nd

Blackhawks 2

(48-22-7, 103 pts)

Devils 1

(44-26-7, 95 pts)

7:00 PM ET, April 2, 2010

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

1 2 3 SO T
CHI 0 0 1 12
NJ 1 0 0 01

K. Versteeg (Blackhawks - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Brodeur (Devils - G): Saves: 25, Save Pct.: .962

I. Kovalchuk (Devils - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Blackhawks-Devils Preview


The Chicago Blackhawks may have settled on a goaltender for their playoff run, which they'll likely begin as a division champion for the first time in 17 years.

There's no doubt about who'll be in net for the New Jersey Devils, but if Martin Brodeur doesn't get more support from his offense soon, another Atlantic Division title may be out of the question.

The points from Friday night's meeting of Stanley Cup contenders may be more valuable for the Devils, but Chicago will be hoping to build some momentum and notch its first win in New Jersey in more than 12 years.

The Blackhawks' uncertain goalie situation and short-handed defensive corps created cause for concern as the team allowed 16 goals while losing three straight to non-playoff teams before Wednesday's visit to Minnesota.

Coach Joel Quenneville, though, stuck with Antti Niemi a day after he suffered a 4-2 loss at St. Louis, an indication Chicago will look to the rookie over Cristobal Huet when the playoffs begin.

It didn't hurt that Niemi notched his seventh shutout with 21 saves in a 4-0 victory.

"It's big, it was a nice response," Quenneville said. "It was nice to show him some confidence as well and he responded with the game we were looking for."

The victory was welcomed by a Chicago team that had been 5-7-2 since the Olympic break and is playing without injured defensemen Brian Campbell (fractured clavicle) and Kim Johnsson (upper-body injury).

"It's nice to get that one out of our way and move on here," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Now we've got to continue to work hard and do the little things."

Chicago (47-22-7) holds a comfortable lead on Detroit and Nashville in the Central Division and is closing in on its first division crown since 1993.

The club could also claim the top seed in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks trail San Jose by three points and hold a game in hand on the Sharks.

New Jersey also has one more game than Atlantic-leading Pittsburgh, and the Devils trail by one point as they seek their ninth division title since 1996.

The Devils (44-26-6) may be more concerned with improving their play before the postseason begins. They've gone 2-2-3 in their last seven, scoring one goal while losing their last two.

After a 5-1 defeat at Philadelphia on Sunday, they were outshot 34-21 in a 1-0 overtime loss to visiting Boston on Tuesday.

"We're not playing at the level we need to be at," captain Jamie Langenbrunner said.

Ilya Kovalchuk has three goals and five assists in his last five games, but many of the Devils' other forwards have been quiet, with top scorers Zach Parise and Travis Zajac each held to no goals and one assist in the last four.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 home win over the Devils on Dec. 31.

That was Brodeur's first regulation loss to the Blackhawks since Oct. 10, 1998, ending an 8-0-1 stretch with one tie during which he had a 1.65 goals-against average.

The Blackhawks have not won at New Jersey since a 6-2 victory Dec. 30, 1997, going 0-6-1 with a tie in their last eight visits.

This will be center John Madden's first game at New Jersey since signing with Chicago last summer. Madden spent his first 10 seasons with the Devils, notching 140 goals and 157 assists while winning Stanley Cup titles in 2000 and 2003.