Although the New Jersey Devils are earning plenty of points lately, the one they were unable to get Saturday left them feeling slightly disappointed and frustrated.
On Tuesday, the Devils will hope to avoid consecutive losses for the first time in six weeks when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Devils took consecutive losses to the Boston Bruins Dec. 23-28, which were part of a stretch of eight defeats in nine games that came on the heels of their spectacular 21-4-1 start. Since those losses to the NHL’s best team, the Devils are 12-2-3 in their past 17 contests, including a 7-1-2 road mark.
The last two games were played without Jack Hughes, who is week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury Feb. 6 against the Vancouver Canucks.
In the first game without Hughes, Dougie Hamilton scored two power-play goals in a 3-1 home win over the Seattle Kraken on Thursday.
In the second contest without Hughes, Tomas Tatar scored twice but the Devils gave up the tying goal early in the third period and went scoreless in the shootout of a 3-2 loss at Minnesota. It was a sluggish enough showing for coach Lindy Ruff that he slightly switched the line combinations in the second period.
“The point is huge,” Tatar said. “Every point is big. It’s too bad we couldn’t grab two. One, we’ll take it. We want to learn from what we did wrong and be better next game.”
“Around the room we feel like we lost a point,” New Jersey defenseman Ryan Graves said. “Every night we come in we’re never hoping for one. Even if we don’t bring our best game, we’ve shown we can win games. I don’t think we ever feel like we stole a point. We feel we have a good enough team that we should win night in and night out.”
After Saturday’s disappointment, the Devils are hoping for a similar outcome as their first meeting with the Blue Jackets, when 13 players recorded a point in a 7-1 rout on Oct. 30 on home ice.
The Blue Jackets own a league-worst 36 points and are 6-11-2 in their past 19 games since enduring a seven-game losing skid Dec. 13-29.
Columbus also is seeking consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 9-11 after halting a four-game skid Saturday with a 4-3 victory at Toronto. Kent Johnson scored the tiebreaking goal 5:46 into the third period after Boone Jenner, Kirill Marchenko and Sean Kuraly also scored to help the Blue Jackets overcome an early two-goal deficit.
Johnson’s clutch goal occurred on a night when the Blue Jackets totaled 40 shots. It marked the third time this season they reached 40 and their third straight game with at least 30 shots on goal.
“It’s been tough sledding with the injuries and everything we’ve gone through, but there’s moments within the season we can grow,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “Not having the best first that we wanted but then responding with the second and responding with the third.”
Columbus is 12-2-1 in the past 15 meetings and has won the past seven home encounters with the Devils.
–Field Level Media