The New Jersey Devils (24-22-10) take on the Ottawa Senators (29-19-6) in their second of three meetings this season. New Jersey lost the initial meeting in Ottawa, 3-1, and John Moore scored the lone goal. Derick Brassard scored the game-winning goal and Zack Smith had the empty-netter. The game was pretty even overall in terms of shots on goal, FO%, and power play opportunities. Mike Condon was in net for Ottawa and made 29 saves on 30 shots (.967 save percentage) and Keith Kinkaid started for New Jersey, making 28 saves on 30 shots (.933 save percentage).
Both teams are coming off of 3-2 games on Tuesday night: New Jersey beat the Avalanche, Ottawa fell to the Sabres. Zacha, Palmieri, and Andy Greene all scored. Greene’s was a power play goal and Palmieri’s was his 15th goal of the season (tied for the team lead with Henrique). Cory Schneider made the start in net and saved 28 of 30 shots faced (.933 save %). Ryan and Phaneuf scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson made the start (22 saves on 25 shots, .880 save %). The Senators are on their fathers’ trip.
Schneider will get the start for New Jersey and Condon will be in net for Ottawa. Schneider has impeccable numbers against Ottawa, including a .945 save percentage against the Senators all-time. Condon has excellent numbers against New Jersey and a 3-0-1 record. Jon Merrill returned to the lineup on Tuesday and will probably stay in it, as will Greene and Moore, which means Seth Helgeson would be the healthy scratch. Beau Bennett will return to the lineup in place of Joseph Blandisi (which I’m not sure how I feel about just yet).
A lot has changed for New Jersey since their first game against Ottawa back in November. Taylor Hall was injured. Beau Bennett, P.A. Parenteau, and Pavel Zacha were healthy scratches. Luke Gazdic and Nick Lappin were both in the lineup but are now down in Albany (AHL). The Devils have Hall back and he, Henrique, Zacha, and Kyle Palmieri have all found their scoring touch. Both of these games will also be in New Jersey.
The Devils are 2-1-0 on this homestand thus far and 4-1-1 since the All-Star Break. They will have to continue to play strongly at The Rock in another important stretch of games that could make or break their season. Continue to keep an eye out for that Zacha-Josefson-Noesen line because they’re fun to watch. Zacha has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last 10 games. Henrique has seven (four goals, three assists) in his last seven and Hall has six (two goals, four assists) in his last six.
Playoffs are still within reach but only as long as the Devils continue to win games. This homestand is a chance to do just that; they’ll finish it out against Ottawa tonight and New York (Isles) on Saturday. They’ll travel to Brooklyn to play the Isles (which isn’t really a road game because there’s no flight involved) and then they’ll be right back at home.
It should be a fun game to watch tonight and one that can go either way. Find out if the Devils can pick up another two points when the puck drops at 7PM.