The New Jersey Devils ended a promising road trip on a sour note. Instead of coming home on a three-game win streak, the team headed home hanging their heads after blowing a three-goal lead.
Despite that poor performance, the Devils have the opportunity to quickly forget Monday's 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. New Jersey squares off against the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at the Prudential Center. The game can be seen on MSG Plus 2.
The Devils loss Monday night continued a recent trend for New Jersey. The team has failed to hold big leads in the past three games, and it's cost them points. Devils coach Peter DeBoer said it's a problem the team needs to fix immediately.
"We have to find a solution obviously," DeBoer told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record after the loss. "We lost some points in Boston in a similar situation. We lost some tonight. These opportunities to pick up points are critical."
"We're playing and we have a lead and our intensity drops a little bit," Patrik Elias told Gulitti. "We just become casual too much and stop making good plays. And it always starts with us playing well in the neutral zone and coming out of our zone clean."
New Jersey will need to make those adjustments a Blue Jackets team looking to turn around their season. Columbus has won it's past two games, outscoring their opponents 8-4. They've scored four goals in back-to-back games for the first time all season.
New Blue Jacket Jeff Carter helped his team beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1, Monday night. Carter had his first multi-goal game of the season, scoring in the first and second periods. Rick Nash scored his fifth goal of the season, and former Ranger Vinny Prospal collected three assists. Curtis Sanford stopped 27 shots for his second win of the season.
The Devils have also found their offense in recent games. They've scored at least three goals in their past four contests, outscoring opponents 15-11. Ilya Kovalchuk, Petr Sykora and Dainius Zubrus all found the net in the loss to Florida. Andy Greene picked up two assists, and leads all Devils defenseman with eight points (8a). Elias recorded an assist, stretching his point streak to three games.
Elias is off to a hot start this season, recording 19 points in 19 games and leading New Jersey in scoring. He's recorded eight points (3g, 5a) in 10 games against Columbus.
This is the only meeting between the two teams this season. New Jersey leads the all-time series, going 7-2-2-0 in 11 games against Columbus.
Tonight's game marks the second game in a week where New Jersey plays four times. With so many games, the lack of finish could be caused from fatigue. DeBoer wouldn't blame the problem on that.
"I don't know if fatigue is a factor or not. I don't think these guys would use that as a crutch and I don't want to start using crutches," DeBoer told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. "We just have to find a way to close out games. It's early. You hate to lose the points, but we have a lot of hockey left to play."