For the New Jersey Devils two Adams, Henrique and Larsson, the wait is finally over.
The duo will make their season debut tonight as the Devils look to break a two-game losing streak against the rival New York Islanders at the Prudential Center.
Henrique will debut after recovering from November 29 surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. The Calder Cup finalist, who recorded 51 points (16g, 35a) in 74 NHL games last season, skated with the team last Friday. Devils coach Pete DeBoer will head into the game with Henrique on the fourth line, centering Krys Barch and Matt Anderson, in order to limit his minutes.
The Devils sophomore center hasn’t participated in a full practice yet, but feels he’s gained enough strength to contribute.
“It was a good week for me off the ice just making sure everything is up to strength where it needs to be and it is,” he told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “I feel comfortable out there shooting, passing, everything and now it’s just a matter of getting out there and get the first couple of shifts out of the way and go from there.”
Larsson was a healthy scratch for the first five games. He’ll replace Mark Fayne, who suffered a minor arm injury in Tuesday’s loss to the Bruins. Last year’s fourth overall pick, Larsson played in 65 regular season games, recording 18 points (2g, 16a). He also played in five playoff games, recording one goal. He didn’t play after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and was a victim of the Devils blueline depth.
They’ll try and help the Devils reverse a two-game losing streak. New Jersey went 0-0-2 on its brief road trip, recording the first two losses of the season. The Boston Bruins defeated the Devils, 2-1, in a shootout Tuesday night at T.D. Garden. David Clarkson scored a powerplay goal in the second period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. Devils goalie Johan Hedberg was in control from there, shutting down the Bruins offense.
An unlucky bounce cost New Jersey in the third period. Nathan Horton’s shot from the right circle deflected off the stick of Henrik Tallinder and through Hedberg’s legs, tying the game with 4:55 left in regulation. Brad Marchand scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout, beating Hedberg to give Boston the extra point.
New Jersey has dropped five straight decisions to the Bruins, and lost nine of their last 10 games against Boston.
The Islanders are looking to break a similar streak against the Devils.
New Jersey has won four straight over New York, the most recent coming in the season opener on January 19. The Devils defeated the Islanders, 2-1, in the season opener for both teams. Clarkson scored the game-winning goal at the 8:17 mark of the third period. The Devils right-winger responded just one minute after Travis Harmonic scored a game-tying powerplay goal, beating Evgeni Nabakov with a quick wrist shot from the right circle. Travis Zajac also scored for New Jersey.
Martin Brodeur stopped 18 shots for the win. He’s 50-27-2 with four ties against the Islanders in his career, with a 2.19 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and 10 shutouts.
The future Hall of Fame goalie is 3-0-1 this season with a 1.69 GAA, .932 save percentage and one shutout. He’s tied with St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak for the third-lowest GAA in the league. Brodeur’s save percentage is fourth best in the league, tying him with Boston’s Tuukka Rask.
Tonight is the final game of New York’s five-game, eight-day road trip. The Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, at the CONSOL Energy Center Tuesday night. Rookie Casey Cizikas opened the scoring in the first period, giving the Islanders a lead they’d never lose. Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Matt Moulson scored second period goals, and Nabakov finished with 37 saves.
Since their opening night loss, New York has scored 21 goals, and sits sixth in the league with 22 goals scored this season. The Islanders have scored just one goal in their last five games against New Jersey.
The Devils are still one of four teams without a loss in regulation, and have collected at least one point from each game this season.
Tonight’s contest begins a four-game stretch for the Devils against division opponents. They’ll play the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Islanders over the next six days. New Jersey currently sits in first place in the division, one point ahead of the Islanders.