Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the clubs this season. New Jersey took three out of four against Washington in 2011-12.
Big story: Ex-Devils assistant coach Adam Oates brings his reeling Capitals into Prudential Center in desperate need of a win. Alex Ovechkin & Co. have allowed 14 goals while scoring only six in regulation losses to Tampa Bay, Winnipeg and Montreal. Ovechkin, who is trying to make the move to right wing, still hasn't scored and has just one assist.
Capitals: All of Washington's problems were on display Thursday night against the Canadiens.
They couldn't score. They were penalty-prone, and their penalty kill was ineffective. Their power play couldn't convert. Ovechkin struggled. They weren't physical enough. They had only a few good scoring chances. Their defense suffered some breakdowns.
Oates is trying to implement a new system in D.C., but the Capitals don't have time to go through growing pains. They are the only team in the Eastern Conference without a win.
"I think it's embarrassing the way we played," Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said after the loss Thursday night.
Devils: It's a completely different story for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
The Devils are getting goals (five in two games). They are defending well (only one goal allowed so far). Their Russian superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk, has contributed a team-high three points (goal and two assists). Their penalty kill has been good (9 for 10).
DeBoer, though, wouldn't marry himself to those changes.
"We're going to have a lineup meeting [Thursday] afternoon and talk about any potential changes," DeBoer said after practice. "We've won two in a row, so any changes you make you're not going to make lightly."
It's also possible that Krys Barch makes his Devils' debut on the fourth line Friday night. Cam Janssen would be the odd forward out if DeBoer calls on Barch.
Who's hot: Zajac and Clarkson have scored in both games while Kovalchuk is coming off a two-point game against the Flyers. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves Tuesday night for his 120th career shutout.
Injury report: Washington is still without Brooks Laich (groin) and Jack Hillen (upper body). New Jersey is missing Adam Henrique (thumb).