The New Jersey Devils enter this week's Western Conference road trip looking to get back on track.
After dropping their season opener almost three weeks ago, the Devils ripped off three straight wins. Two of those came via the shootout, with Ilya Kovalchuk netting the winner in both games. It looked as if, early in the season, they put behind the doubts many raised after missing the playoffs last season.
In a matter of days, those feelings began to unravel. On Friday night, New Jersey lost leads of 2-0 and 3-2, dropping a home game to the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, in a shootout. They followed that up with a 4-1 loss to a Pittsburgh Penguins team without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
The injury bug once again bit the Devils last week. Jacob Josefson fractured his right clavicle in Friday night's loss, and will miss three to four months after undergoing surgery that night.
The trip out West doesn't get much easier. Here's the upcoming Devils schedule in our look ahead:
Tuesday, Oct. 25 - Devils at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m., MSG Plus)
The Devils first game of the road trip features one of the league's hottest goalies, Jonathan Quick. He's given up just five goals in six starts, and set a Kings record with three straight shutouts. He leads the league with a .972 save percentage. The Kings have won three straight games heading into Tuesday's matchup. Anze Kopitar leads all skaters with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) and leads the team in both goals and assists. Simon Gagne is second on the team in points with seven. In 54 games against New Jersey, Gagne has 32 points (22 goals, 10 assists).
New Jersey won their first shootout game of the season against LA, 2-1, October 13 at the Prudential Center. Kovalchuk and Zach Parise both scored against Quick in the shootout. The win cost the Devils, though, as Martin Brodeur injured his shoulder.
Thursday, Oct. 28 - Devils at Phoenix Coyotes (10:30 p.m., MSG Plus)
The Devils and Coyotes will face in their only matchup of the season at the Jobing.com Arena. Shane Doan leads the Coyotes in points with eight, but still carries a minus-3 rating. Doan and Ray Whitney are tied for the team lead in goals with three. Mike Smith, signed in the offseason to help replace Ilya Bryzgalov, took over the starting role from Jason Labarbera. In five starts this season, Smith is 2-2-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. In 65 games against Phoenix, New Jersey is 21-35-0 with nine ties.
Saturday, Oct. 29 - Devils at Dallas Stars (8:00 p.m., MSG)
New Jersey ends its three-game Western Conference swing with their first of two games against the Stars. Entering this week, Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn sit tied for the team lead with seven points. Kari Lehtonen got off to a hot start, posting a perfect 6-0-0 record with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. In 96 meetings with Dallas, New Jersey is 38-47-2 with nine ties.
Trends From The Past Week
New Jersey was outscored, 4-2, in the third period during their back-to-back weekend losses. During their three-game win streak, the Devils shut out opponents, 4-0, during the final period.
Adam Larsson continued to pile up the time on ice during the weekend. We're all still waiting on his first NHL point, but there's no denying the amount of trust DeBoer has already placed in the rookie.
All four of Pittsburgh's goals went past the glove of Johan Hedberg. It might not be a trend, but look for other teams to try and score on that side in the near future.
Goals: Zach Parise and Patrik Elias - 3
Assists: Ilya Kovalchuk - 4
Points: Ilya Kovalchuk - 6
Plus/Minus: Jacob Josefson - +1
PIM: David Clarkson - 28
Wins: Johan Hedberg - 3
GAA: Johan Hedberg - 2.24
Save Percentage: Johan Hedberg - .923
-- See In Lou We Trust for more about the Devils
Next 5 Games
|@ Los Angeles||Tue 10/25||10:30 PM EDT|
|@ Phoenix||Thu 10/27||10:00 PM EDT|
|@ Dallas||Sat 10/29||8:00 PM EDT|
|Toronto||Wed 11/02||7:30 PM EDT|
|@ Philadelphia||Thu 11/03||7:00 PM EDT|
Last 5 Games
|@ Pittsburgh||Sat 10/22||L 1 - 4|
|San Jose||Fri 10/21||SO - L 3 - 4|
|@ Nashville||Sat 10/15||SO - W 3 - 2|
|Los Angeles||Thu 10/13||SO - W 2 - 1|
|Carolina||Mon 10/10||W 4 - 2|