The Calgary Flames may be sitting near the bottom of their division, but New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer doesn't think that makes Tuesday night's game any easier.
"It's always difficult," DeBoer told Rich Chere of The Star Ledger. "Three tough buildings. There is a distinct home ice advantage in these buildings because of the crowds and how full they are. You have to play a very smart road game and really manage momentum. One goal-against can turn into two or three very quickly in these buildings."
New Jersey kicks off a three-game road trip Tuesday against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Gametime is 9:30 p.m. and will be televised locally on MSG Plus 2.
In eight games against Western Conference opponents, New Jersey is 5-4-1. That includes a 2-4-0 record on the road, where Western Conference opponents have outscored them, 20-13. They've lost four straight road games to out of conference opponents.
The two teams enter tonight's game on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Devils ended the first half of the season with a 23-16-2 record and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. It's a turnaround from where they were just a year ago, when they ended the first half of the season as the worst team in the entire league.
The Devils leapfrogged over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings Saturday, defeating their Atlantic Division rivals, 3-1. Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins a first-period lead, putting Pittsburgh ahead, 1-0, after the first period. New Jersey came back, scoring three straight goals to grab the road win. Adam Henrique had two points, including a shorthanded goal. Ilya Kovalchuk also finished with two points (1 goal, 1 assist). Martin Brodeur made a season-high 41 saves for his 12th win of the season.
The Flames enter tonight with a 19-19-5 record and are in fourth place in the Northwestern Division. They sit five points behind the Minnesota Wild for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Flames broke a five-game losing streak Saturday, beating the Wild, 3-1, in a record setting night for Jarome Iginla. The team captain netted his 500th career goal, and Lance Bouma scored the first of his career in the win.
Iginla has 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) over the past 21 games and leads the team with 43 points (16 goals, 17 assists). In 16 games against the Devils, Iginla has 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists).
Calgary head coach Brent Sutter will once again face his former team. Sutter coached the Devils from 2007-09 before leaving New Jersey. He joined Calgary soon after his departure, and has failed to reach the playoffs in two seasons as coach.
This is the first and only meeting of the season between the two teams. Last year, the teams faced off at Prudential Center, with New Jersey defeating Calgary, 2-1, in a shootout. Rene Bourque and David Clarkson scored regulation goals, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only shootout goal. Johan Hedberg finished with 25 saves.