Devils open two-game stop in Washington
Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 9:35 AM
NHL.comDEVILS (9-3-4) at CAPITALS (5-9-1)
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New Jersey 6-3-1; Washington 4-6-0
This is the second of three meetings, with the final one Saturday, also in Washington. New Jersey won 3-2 in overtime at home on Jan. 25.
This is a rare set of consecutive regular-season games involving the same teams at the same site. The Devils, who have lost three of their past four, will stay in Washington until after Saturday afternoon's game.
"It's the first time I've done it in the NHL," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Wednesday. "If you're going to spend three nights somewhere, I can think of worse places than Washington. It's a good test for us. Get on the road, spend a little time together and hopefully get our game in a good place."
The Capitals won three in a row before losing to the New York Rangers 2-1 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
"They've been getting better," DeBoer said of the Capitals. "Their team game is probably 50 percent better than it was (at the start of the season)."
New Jersey's effective third line will be without Ryan Carter for this brief trip. Carter suffered an upper body injury when he collided with two Ottawa Senators in a 2-1 shootout loss Monday.
Rookie Stefan Matteau will line up alongside Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier.
"For sure it's going to be a big loss, but we have a lot of depth on this team," Bernier said. "We're going to bring Stef on our line for next game and we're going to try to keep working the same way."
The Devils' power play, which had scored in six straight games, is 1-for-9 in its past three.
Washington saved its season, at least for now, with its three-game win streak. But the Capitals remain last in the Eastern Conference.
"New Jersey is a tough team to play against at all times, on the road or at home," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "The chance that we can get them at home is going to benefit us a little bit. But we need these games, it'll get us right back into the mix, I think."
The Capitals next face the Carolina Hurricanes at home, then play at Philadelphia and Winnipeg before getting four of five at home again.
"We have to take these points. They are important points," Alex Ovechkin said. "Every point right now is important for us, especially at home."
Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer have combined for 12 goals and 24 points in the past eight games.
Devils forward Patrik Elias has 12 points (and is plus-8) and forward Ilya Kovalchuk has 10 in 10 February games. Defenseman Andy Greene has eight. … Capitals forward Mathieu Perrault has five points in his past four games after being a healthy scratch. Goalie Braden Holtby is 3-1-0, allowing 10 goals, after starting the season 1-4-0, allowing 21 goals.
Carter's return date is unknown. Devils forward David Clarkson, who tweaked his back against Ottawa, told NJ.com he plans to play. Forward Dainius Zubrus (wrist surgery) is out. … Capitals defenseman Mike Green (lower body) sat out Sunday and skated briefly Wednesday; it is unknown if he will play. Forwards Marcus Johansson (upper body) and Brooks Laich (groin) are day-to-day. Defenseman Jack Hillen (upper body) is out longer-term.