The New Jersey Devils (8-1-3) are riding a five-game win streak, and are off to the best start in franchise history.
They’ll look to extend that win streak to a season-high six games tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes (6-4-1) at the Prudential Center.
New Jersey is coming off a weekend home-and-home sweep off the Pittsburgh Penguins, defeating the Penguins 3-1 in both games. In the rubber match on Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center, David Clarkson led the way, scoring two goals. Ilya Kovalchuk also added a score for New Jersey, who overtook Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
That win also stretched New Jersey’s win streak to a season-high five games.
After sitting out Sunday’s game against the Penguins, Martin Brodeur will start tonight for New Jersey. He appeared in his 1,200th game on Saturday, making 24 to backstop the Devils to a win.
Brodeur is 37-14-6 with a with a 2.04 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and nine shutouts.
Tonight’s game is the last in a six-game road trip for the Hurricanes. They defeated the New York Islanders, 6-4, yesterday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Jiri Tlusty led a third period comeback, recording four points (2g, 2a) in the final period. Eric Staal recorded an assist, stretching his point streak to nine games. Brother Jordan also recorded an assist, extending his point streak to six games. Cam Ward finished with 24 saves.
Last night’s win pushed Carolina into first place in the Southeast Division, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Hurricanes made one of the biggest trades this offseason, uniting the Staal brothers. After Staal rejected a reported 10 year extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina swooped in, sending Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the eighth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft to Pittsburgh. The move has paid dividends. Eric leads the team with eight goals, and Jordan is the team leader with 10 assists. Both have over ten points this season.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford also added Alex Semin, signing the right wing to a one-year contract. The former Washington Capital has 10 points (3g, 7a).
New Jersey has won seven straight home games against the Hurricanes. Their last home loss to Carolina was a 2-1 defeat on March 29, 2009. The Devils are one of two teams without a regulation loss on home ice, going 5-0-1 in six home games this season.
Here’s a look at last season’s matchup:
October 10, 2011: Devils – 4, Hurricanes – 2 @ Prudential Center
New Jersey won its first game of the season against Carolina, defeating the Hurricanes at the Prudential Center. Zach Parise gave the Devils an early lead, putting his team ahead, 1-0, after one period. The Hurricanes and Devils traded scores in the second period, with goals from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Chad LaRose sandwiching a Mark Fayne score. Kovalchuk and Parise broke the tie in the third period.
Johan Hedberg stopped 24 shots in the win. Ward made 22 saves.
November 8, 2011: Devils – 3, Hurricanes – 2 @ Prudential Center
Squaring off less than a month later, the Devils overcame a first-period deficit to win its second straight over the Hurricanes. Sutter opened the scoring in the first period, scoring a shorthanded goal to give Carolina a 1-0 lead after the first period. Dainius Zubrus tied the game with an even-strength tally in the second period. The teams traded goals in the final period, with Petr Sykora and Joni Pitkanen keeping the score tied. Adam Henrique broke the tie, scoring the game winning goal with 3:19 remaining in regulation.
Brodeur, making his first start against the Hurricanes, stopped 25 shots. Ward made 33 saves.
December 26, 2011: Hurricanes – 4, Devils – 2 @ PNC Arena
Carolina won its only game against New Jersey, taking the first of two at their home area. Sutter, Tuomo Ruutu and Anthony Stewart scored to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead after two periods. The Devils mounted a third period comeback, with Clarkson and Henrique bringing it within one. They couldn’t break through for the tying goal, and Ward iced the win with an empty-net goal.
Hedberg stopped 30 of 33 shots in the loss. In addition to his goal, Ward made 23 saves.
March 31, 2012: Devils – 5, Hurricanes – 0 @ PNC Arena
New Jersey saved its best offensive effort for last, shutting out Carolina in the final meeting of the season. Kovalchuk led all skaters with three points (1g, 2a). Sykora (1g, 1a) and Patrik Elias (2a) also recorded multi-point efforts in the win. Brodeur stopped 22 shots for the shutout. Brian Boucher, making his only start against New Jersey, allowed all five goals on 31 shots.