Devils Look To Avoid Jets Series Sweep

The Winnipeg Jets have dominated the New Jersey Devils this season, winning two games and contributing to New Jersey’s recent struggles.

Tonight, New Jersey will look to avoid a season series sweep against Winnipeg at the Prudential Center.

The Jets have outscored the Devils, 7-3, and won both at home and on the road. Winnipeg’s first line dominated those first two contests. The combination of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little combined for 10 points and a plus-7 rating. Ladd leads all skaters with four points (3g, 1a). Little is the team leader with three assists.

In two games against New Jersey, Ondrej Pavelec allowed three goals on 49 shots against. He enters the game with a 1.50 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

The Devils recent struggles offensively are magnified against the Jets. Andrei Loktionov and Alexei Ponikarovsky are tied for the team lead with two points. Loktionov is tied with Steve Bernier and Travis Zajac for the team lead in goals, with one each. Ponikarovsky leads New Jersey with two assists.

Ilya Kovalchuk, the former Thrasher, has zero points and is minus-3 against his former team.

In two starts against Winnipeg, Johan Hedberg is 0-2-0 with a 3.10 goals-against average and .872 save percentage.

Winnipeg defeated New Jersey, 3-1, in the last meeting on February 28. Ladd scored eight seconds into the first period, breaking the Devils franchise record for the fastest goal allowed. Loktionov tied the game in the second period, but Ladd struck again, scoring the game-winning goal later in the period. Blake Wheeler finished the scoring in the third period.

The Devils will finish its sixth set of back-to-back games tonight. New Jersey fell to 2-4-0 in the first game after a 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday at PNC Arena. The Devils allowed five goals through two periods, including two in 28 seconds during the opening frame. A two-goal push brought New Jersey within two in the third period, but they couldn’t overcome the deficit.

Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin finished with three points.

Kovalchuk led the Devils with two goals, breaking a seven-game goal drought. Patrik Elias added a score for New Jersey, who have lost seven of its last eight games.

Hedberg was pulled for the second time in the last three games. He allowed five goals on 18 shots.

Winnipeg will finish a four-game road trip after tonight’s game. They have won seven of their last nine road games, and is 2-1-0 on its current trip. The Jets defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2, in overtime Friday. Pavelec stole the show, stopping a season-high 38 shots. Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winning goal with 41 seconds left in overtime. Ladd added a goal and assist, and Wheeler scored a goal in the win.

The Jets have won back to back road games three times this season.

Tonight’s game ends a stretch of five games in seven days for New Jersey. The Devils are 1-3-0 in four of those games, gaining two of a possible eight points. New Jersey is seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Rangers.

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