Devils take on Winnipeg at the Rock
Sunday, 02.24.2013 / 8:49 AM
NHL.comJETS (7-9-1) at DEVILS (10-4-4)
RADIO: Bloomberg 1130 AM
Winnipeg 4-6-0; New Jersey 6-3-1
This is the first meeting. The New Jersey Devils won three of the four meetings last season and have prevailed in five straight against the Winnipeg Jets franchise at Prudential Center.
Both teams will try to shake off a Saturday matinee loss in the first of a home-and-home, although the second half at MTS Centre isn't until Thursday.
Winnipeg's trouble with goal prevention in its first season after the franchise moved from Atlanta has continued in year two. The Jets were 26th in the NHL in goals allowed in 2011-12 and are 25th this season, yielding 3.18 goals per game, which is up from 2.95 last season.
It was a problem again Saturday. The Jets had a 3-1 lead on the road at Wells Fargo Center, but allowed four straight goals in a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. One big problem for Winnipeg is the penalty kill -- the Jets are last in the League at 67.9 percent. The Flyers erased the 3-1 deficit with three straight power-play goals before an empty-netter just before the final horn.
After playing 10 of their first 15 games against division foes, the Devils are now in the midst of an 11-game stretch against non-Atlantic teams. New Jersey went 7-2-1 in those division battles, but after a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon, the Devils are 3-2-3 outside the Atlantic. The New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins all have at least six non-division victories.
The Devils have the oldest goaltending tandem in the League -- Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg -- but they have done a decent job protecting them. New Jersey is third in the NHL in shots allowed per game at 26.2, behind only noted stingy clubs the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.
Jets forward Evander Kane has a point in six straight games. … Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk has shaken off a bit of a slow start (five points in his first nine games) by collecting 12 in the past nine, including goals in back-to-back games.
The Jets were without defensemen Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and Zach Redmond (leg), goaltender Al Montoya (lower body) and forward Antti Miettinen (upper body) against the Flyers. ... The Devils did not have Dainius Zubrus (wrist) and Ryan Carter (head) against the Capitals.