It’s Kids’ Day at The Rock as the New Jersey Devils (26-32-12) take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (45-18-6) for the fourth and final time this season. The Devils have gone 1-2-0 against the Jackets this season, both losses coming as shutouts. The two teams first met back in February at Nationwide Arena, a 5-1 win for New Jersey. Taylor Hall (2), Jacob Josefson, Travis Zajac, and Seth Helgeson all scored for the Devils; Matt Calvert scored for the Jackets. Cory Schneider made 31 saves on 32 shots against (.969 save %); Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves on 29 shots faced (.862 save %). It was a bit of an off day for him and the rest of Columbus because they then proceeded to shutout the Devils in both meetings after. And if the Jackets do win today, any kind of win, they will clinch a playoff spot.
The Devils lost 3-0 at The Rock in the first game of a home-and-home series; Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Sam Gagner (empty-netter) scored goals, and Bobrovsky made 20 saves to earn the shutout. Schneider made 19 saves on 22 shots against (.864 save %). The Devils were also shutout at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday in the back end of the home-and-home, 2-0 this time; Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson scored goals for the Jackets and Bobrvosky made 33 saves to earn his second straight shutout. Keith Kinkaid made 23 saves on 24 shots against (.958 save %). Both shutouts were actually very close games and could have gone either way.
Despite not scoring any goals against the Jackets in their last two contests, the Devils have now scored a total of 14 goals (!) in their last 3 games (!) against Arizona (4), Philadelphia (6), and Pittsburgh (4), which is a sign of improvement if the offense is beginning to click. Kinkaid has made two straight starts against and may get the nod in net again this afternoon. Bobrovsky is almost definitely going to be Columbus’s starter; Joonas Korpisalo was in net yesterday.
There aren’t a lot of other lineup notes; the Devils did not practice as scheduled yesterday and will not have a morning skate (due to the 1PM puck drop). Schneider is in net tonight. Miles Wood and Nick Lappin are out; Steven Santini and Blake Coleman are in so the Devils will dress 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson, and Devante Smith-Pelly are all still out; DSP is the only one of those three who has yet to start skating again.
Columbus defeated the Islanders in overtime, 3-2, yesterday afternoon. They got regulation goals Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson while Cam Atkinson scored the game winner. Korpisalo made 20 saves on 22 shots against (.909 save %). The Jackets will be looking for a very important two points in an incredibly tight Metropolitan division race; seven points separate the top four teams and Columbus is currently one point behind Washington, one point ahead of Pittsburgh.
New Jersey is coming off of a 6-4 loss to the Penguins on Friday night; they got regulation goals from Palmieri (2), Stefan Noesen, and Beau Bennett. Palmieri now has 25 goals on the season (team leader) and is making another bid for 30; he is on a three-game goal streak with 5. Bennett, Hall, and Joseph Blandisi are all on four-game point streaks. Kinkaid made 37 saves on 42 shots against (.881).
The Devils have gone 1 for 6 on the man advantage during the season series; the Jackets have gone 0 for 5. New Jersey is 19th in the league in terms of power play success at 18.2%; Columbus are 7th at 21.6%. The Jackets are 10th in the league when it comes to penalty kill success, killing 83.1% of them; the Devils are 17th at 80.6%. Overall, New Jersey has been better in the face-off circle during the series and has been slightly better than Columbus on average this season.
Puck drops at 1PM today!