The New Jersey Devils (25-24-10) will look to avoid being swept by the Ottawa Senators (31-20-6) when they meet for the third and final time this season; Ottawa has won both previous meetings: 3-1 back in December, 3-0 last Thursday. John Moore scored the lone goal for New Jersey in their initial meeting. Mike Condon has made both starts for the Senators, and Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider have split starts for the Devils.
However, based on Kinkaid’s less-than-spectacular performance on Sunday against New York, Cory Schneider will likely be back in net for New Jersey. Based on morning skates, Craig Anderson will make his first and only start against the Devils this season. Michael Cammalleri and Kyle Quincey will both be back in the lineup; Beau Bennett and John Moore are both healthy scratches. But the biggest lineup note? Bobby Ryan is out for at least 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are also out tonight.
The Devils are coming off of an unfortunate 6-4 loss to the division rival Islanders and the Senators lost 3-2 to Winnipeg, both on Sunday. New Jersey will look to build on a home-and-home series that had both positives and negatives. Rookies Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood, and Steven Santini have all been bright spots. Zacha and Wood both scored this weekend but Santini’s goal was credited to Joseph Blandisi. Zacha has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last 10 games. Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall both scored on Sunday, and those two (along with Adam Henrique) have been consistent scorers. Hall has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last nine games, Palmieri has seven (five goals, two assists) in his last nine, and Henrique has eight (four goals, four assists) in his last 10.
Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, and and Kyle Turris all scored Thursday night and Bobby Ryan, Derick Brassard, and Zack Smith scored back in December. Both Turris’s and Smith’s goals were empty-netters. Karlsson has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last five games. Phaneuf has five points (three goals, two assists) in his last six. Brassard his five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three and had a three-point night against Toronto on Saturday.
It should be another slow, uneventful, and low-scoring game but it will be a close one. Thursday’s game is a better indicator of how both teams will play than December’s. Both teams are pretty evenly matched in terms of power play success and New Jersey’s has been on a roll lately (17.4% compared to Ottawa’s 17.1%). Ottawa’s penalty kill is one of the best in the league with an 83.8% kill rate and New Jersey sits at 81.2%. The Sens average 29.8 shots/game and the Devils average 27.3. The Devils did have 30 shots on goal in their initial meeting but could muster only 21 on Thursday. They have allowed 66 shots on goal (and 35 on Thursday).
Puck drops at 7PM.