It seems like the New Jersey Devils have found their stride, winning three of their last four games. The next two games, however, will show exactly how far the team has come.
The Devils square off with the Washington Capitals in a home-and-home series, beginning Friday night at the Prudential Center. The game can be seen on MSG Plus. The series concludes Saturday at the Verizon Center, and can be seen on either the NHL Network or MSG Plus.
New Jersey enters the back-to-back series riding a three game win streak. They've won just one game in regulation and earned three straight one-goal victories. The Devils defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2, Tuesday at the Prudential Center. The teams traded goals in the first two periods, entering the final frame tied, 1-1. Rookie Adam Henrique made a rare mistake, accidentally tipping a puck past Martin Brodeur to give the Canes a 2-1 lead. The rookie would redeem himself though, scoring the game-winning goal at 16:41 of the third period.
It was the rookie's second game-winning goal this season. Since his call-up, Henrique has recorded seven points (4 G, 3 A). His surge of offense has been a welcomed addition to the first line.
Ilya Kovalchuk, injured in a win over the Philadelphia Flyers on November 3, He's missed the last two games, and won't play in either game this weekend. He did skate this week, but Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he'd rather have the left winger fully healthy before he plays a game.
"We're in November and I guess it's short-term pain for long-term gain," he told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "We don't want to turn this into something that lingers."
DeBoer said he can't replace Kovalchuk with just one person.
"You fill it by committee," he told Gulitti. "You've got to get two or three guys picking up that slack. We turn more into a four-line team than a three-line team, those type of things. But the guys have done a good job and they've responded to that adversity and we've won a couple in a row here so, that's good."
The Capitals enter the weekend series in a slump. They've lost four of their last six games and two straight. They've allowed 10 goals to both the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars. After their 5-2 loss Tuesday to Dallas, coach Bruce Boudreau put his team through a two-hour practice Wednesday, which included a bag skate.
The back-to-back games this weekend will be the first two meetings between the two teams this season.