(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils recorded a much-needed victory on Friday night and will try to make it two in a row this evening, when they visit the first-place Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
The Devils snapped a three-game slide with a 2-1 victory in Anaheim last night and the win improved New Jersey's record to just 3-7-1 this season. A victory tonight would give the disappointing Devils consecutive wins for the first time this year.
Both the Devils and Ducks scored in the second period on Friday, but Patrik Elias netted the game-winner in the third stanza at Honda Center. New Jersey grabbed the 2-1 lead when rookie Alexander Vasyunov fed Elias for a one-timer in the slot just 1:54 into the final period. The assist was the first NHL point for the young Russian forward.
"It's a huge win for us. Hopefully it will get us on the right track," the Devils' Jason Arnott said. "Everybody contributed in one way or another."
Jamie Langenbrunner had the other goal for New Jersey, and Martin Brodeur made 27 saves for his first win of the season not by way of a shutout. The Devils also improved to 1-2-0 on their six-game trek, which will lead the club to Vancouver next for Monday's game against the Canucks.
The Devils are still dealing with several injuries, but it appears defenseman Anton Volchenkov is nearing a return, although he is not with the club in LA. Volchenkov hasn't played since suffering a broken nose and a neck injury in New Jersey's second game of the season. The physical Russian blueliner is also not expected to join the club in Vancouver, but he could be ready to play on Wednesday when the Devils cap their road trip in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Division and Western Conference-leading Kings will shoot for a fourth win in five games when they take the ice tonight.
Los Angeles capped a five-game road trip with a positive result on Thursday, downing the Stars, 5-2, in Dallas. Wayne Simmonds and Willie Mitchell each had a goal and an assist to lead the Kings to victory at American Airlines Center.
However, Simmonds suffered a lower-body injury in the win and is questionable for tonight's tilt. The 22-year-old winger has three goals and three assists in 10 games this season.
Dustin Brown, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Justin Williams each had a goal for the Kings. Jack Johnson added three assists while Jonathan Quick stopped 30 shots in the win.
"[Quick's] been fantastic. He made some huge saves for us," Johnson said.
This evening marks the start of a five-game homestand for Los Angeles, which has won all three of its games at the Staples Center this season.
LA posted a 3-2 regulation win in New Jersey last year, giving the Kings two straight victories in this series. The Devils have still won four of the last seven encounters overall and has claimed victory in two of three and four of their previous trips to the Staples Center.