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Jets-Devils Preview

Friday, 11.04.2011 / 7:14 PM

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

With Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Adam Henrique skating together the last two games, the New Jersey Devils think they've finally put together a productive first line.

The Devils, however, may have to find someone else to play on that forward unit if Kovalchuk isn't healthy enough to face his former team.

With the left wing questionable with a leg injury, New Jersey looks to win two straight for the first time in three weeks when its hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.

After the Devils (5-5-1) managed eight goals during a 1-3-0 trip that ended last Saturday, coach Pete DeBoer put the rookie Henrique in between Parise and Kovalchuk on the top line.

Henrique and Kovalchuk each recorded an assist in a 5-3 loss to Toronto on Wednesday, and the trio had two goals and three assists in a 4-3 shootout victory at Philadelphia on Thursday.

With New Jersey trailing 2-0, Kovalchuk assisted on second-period goals by Parise and Henrique, with Parise also scoring in the tiebreaker as the club ended a season-high three-game skid.

"I feel lucky enough to be part of (the line) now," Henrique told the Devils' official website. " … I take it as a great opportunity. Hopefully we can keep our chemistry going."

That won't happen Saturday if Kovalchuk doesn't play. He left Thursday with what he said was a pulled leg muscle.

"We'll see how it goes (Friday) and, hopefully, we'll go day by day," he told the league's official website.

Kovalchuk would be facing his former team for the first time since it relocated from Atlanta prior to the season. The former Thrashers captain and No. 1 overall pick, acquired by New Jersey in February 2010, leads the franchise with 328 goals and 615 points.

Kovalchuk scored one goal in all four games against the Thrashers in 2010-11, with the Devils winning the last three.

The Jets (5-6-1) will be making the first of two visits to New Jersey this season. Winnipeg defeated the New York Islanders 3-0 on Thursday for its second straight win and third in four contests.

The Jets, forced to play this season in the Southeast Division due to the relocation, have three games left on a season-high seven-game road trip against eastern teams.

Although Winnipeg was outshot 34-26 and 19-6 in the second period, it won back-to-back games for the first time this season as Ondrej Pavelec earned his seventh career shutout.

Defenseman Johnny Oduya, acquired in the Kovalchuk deal, had a goal and an assist.

Pavelec is likely to be in goal again Thursday with veteran backup Chris Mason out. Winnipeg has also lost defensemen Tobias Enstrom, Derek Meech, Mark Stuart and Randy Jones to injuries recently.

The Jets' Nik Antropov, Alex Burmistrov, Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane have combined for 13 goals and 14 assists over the last six games.

They'll look to keep producing when they face Martin Brodeur, who makes his second start since missing six contests with a bruised right shoulder.

Brodeur has gone 11-5-1 with three ties and a 2.08 goals-against average in 20 home starts against the Jets/Thrashers franchise.

New Jersey has won three straight home matchups in the series and six of seven overall.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Jan 17 '12WPG 1 at NJD 5P. Sykora
Jan 14 '12NJD 2 at WPG 1P. Elias
Dec 03 '11NJD 2 at WPG 4M. Stuart
Nov 05 '11WPG 2 at NJD 3 - OTA. Henrique
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
N. Antropov123811+1610
A. Burmistrov134610+5410
K. Wellwood13549+2210
E. Kane12538+11121
T. Glass13246+01101
D. Byfuglien13156-31600
T. Enstrom11156+21010
J. Slater11505-1900
B. Wheeler13055-1800
A. Ladd13314-1902
M. Stuart11134-1800
Z. Bogosian13044-41200
J. Oduya12123-2400
B. Little13033-3600
M. Flood2112+1000
T. Stapleton9022-3000
B. MacLean5022+1200
R. Hainsey4022+2600
M. Scheifele7101+0010
R. Jones7101-1200
C. Thorburn13011-41400
K. McArdle6000-2400
B. Maxwell3000-2000
D. Meech2000+1400
B. Festerling2000-1000
P. Postma1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
O. Pavelec114-4-2323143.19.898
C. Mason41-2-08752.68.893
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Elias126511+1820
I. Kovalchuk11279-5211
Z. Parise12538-1410
A. Henrique9336+1001
D. Clarkson12415-33700
P. Sykora12145+01400
D. Zubrus12314-1411
M. Fayne12224+0200
N. Palmieri12134-41200
A. Greene10044+2000
M. Tedenby12033-2400
A. Larsson12022-2800
B. Salvador12011-1200
B. Mills12011-41100
A. Volchenkov12011-5200
H. Tallinder12011-6200
J. Josefson5011+1200
R. Carter12000-5800
C. Janssen9000-2700
R. Pelley5000+0200
E. Boulton4000-11900
M. Fraser2000-1900
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Hedberg95-3-1212612.34.920
M. Brodeur41-2-011863.30.872