The New Jersey Devils have only won twice in the last 11 games after an attention-getting start to the season, although coach Lindy Ruff was encouraged by what he saw in the team’s last two contests.
The Devils won 4-2 on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday before falling in a 5-4 shootout home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. Their next chance to put a charge back into a promising season comes on the road against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
New Jersey trailed by a goal on three separate occasions against Carolina, which has won 11 straight games.
“You have to be satisfied that you battled back, battled back, you take the lead,” Ruff said. “There was lots of good. That team has really been rolling. They haven’t given up a lot. There are a lot of positives to go with the four that we scored against them.”
The Devils’ Jesper Bratt had two goals and an assist and has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last six games. Jack Hughes supplied his team-high 21st goal.
Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made a season-high 43 saves.
“I’ll give him a lot of credit for keeping his composure and making some big saves that allowed us to get back in the game and get a point out of the game,” Ruff said. “And look at some of the breakaway saves he made in overtime to allow us to get to a shootout.”
New Jersey will be playing the front end of a back-to-back on Wednesday. The Devils have a quick turnaround when they return home to face the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
This contest also will decide the three-game season series. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 5-2 on Oct. 15 behind captain Dylan Larkin, who had a goal and two assists. Bratt delivered two goals and an assist in New Jersey’s 6-2 win at Detroit on Oct. 25.
The Red Wings haven’t played since their annual home New Year’s Eve game, when they defeated Ottawa 4-2. Detroit scored three goals in the opening 3:13 of the third period after trailing 2-1.
The Red Wings erased a four-goal deficit in an overtime road victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins two games earlier and fell behind 5-0 in a 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres the following night.
“I think it’s positive we can score in bunches,” said Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen, who scored the final goal on Saturday.
“I don’t think we want to be down like that like we have been for the past few games. But it’s always encouraging when you can score a few in a couple minutes there. I think we’ve just got to start a little better.”
Detroit’s offense will get a boost this week, as forward Robby Fabbri is expected to make his season debut. He underwent knee surgery late last season to repair a torn ACL. He’s undergone three knee surgeries during his career.
Fabbri has been practicing with the team for several weeks. In an unexpected move Tuesday, Detroit placed forward Jakub Vrana on waivers ahead of Fabbri’s official return.
“It’s been a while, but I’ve been here before and I know you have to take that time to make sure everything is right,” Fabbri said. “I feel like I am where I want to be and it’s exciting. One more step and we’ll be there.”
Red Wings goaltender Ville Husso is expected to return on Wednesday after missing two games due to a non-COVID illness.
–Field Level Media