There are few times in a hockey season that a “must-win” game comes along.
For the New Jersey Devils, tonight’s contest against the Boston Bruins is one of those games.
New Jersey heads into Boston looking to snap a four-game losing streak. It won’t get any easier for the Devils. New Jersey has failed to win in Boston since 2009.
The Bruins also retooled at the trade deadline, swinging trades for Jaromir Jagr and Wade Redden. Jagr had 26 points (14g, 12a) for the Dallas Stars this season. The Czech winger has 86 points in 97 career games against the Devils.
For a team already in solid position to make the playoffs, the two players will boost a dangerous lineup.
“They got a good offensive player there [in Jagr],” Devils left wing Patrik Elias told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “It will be interesting where they put him. They’re a good team. They’re well coached. They’re balanced – up front, in the back and a good goalie. It makes them more dangerous with him, obviously, offensively.”
New Jersey has far from secured its own spot in the playoffs. New Jersey is in a three-way tie for seventh place in the conference with the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. They trail the Rangers, who have less shootout wins, but lead the Islanders, who have the same amount of points but have played in one more game.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello made one minor move at the deadline, acquiring Steve Sullivan from the Phoenix Coyotes for a 2014 seventh-round pick. The left wing began his career with New Jersey 16 years ago as a seventh-round draft pick.
“I’ve gone full circle,” Sullivan told Gulitti after the trade. “I’m excited for the opportunity. We’re right in a dead heat right now for a playoff position. Maybe having a chance of playing for the Stanley Cup again is huge for me, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
The Islanders extended the Devils losing streak Monday, defeating New Jersey 3-1 at the Prudential Center. The Devils played a lifeless first period, falling behind 2-0 after the opening frame. Alexei Ponikarovsky cut the deficit in half, but that would be as close as the Devils would get. John Tavares iced the victory with a power-play goal in the third period.
Boston won the first meeting between these two teams in January, 2-1, in a shootout. David Clarkson opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the second period, a lead New Jersey protected until the final frame. Nathan Horton scored with just under five minutes remaining in regulation to tie the game. Brad Marchand scored the game-deciding shootout goal in the sixth round.
Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots through regulation and overtime, and blanked five of six New Jersey skaters in the shootout. Johan Hedberg made 27 saves and stopped two of the six Bruins shooters in the shootout.