The New Jersey Devils have been one of the league’s early-season surprises, bursting out of the gate with nine victories in the first 11 games. However, the Devils have stumbled in the past week and will look to halt a three-game skid when they host reigning league MVP Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
New Jersey’s current slide (0-2-1) began with a 6-3 loss at Edmonton on Friday, which marked the highest goal output of the season for the Oilers’ league-worst offense. “We have to get out of this and stop it before it gets too deep,” Devils goaltender Cory Schneider said after Tuesday’s 3-1 home loss to St. Louis. “It’s three in a row. We haven’t quite played well enough to win. We have to find a way to nip this in the bud right now.” Edmonton has yet to post back-to-back wins as it plays the second of a four-game road trip against Metropolitan Division opponents. McDavid collected three assists in last week’s win over New Jersey and notched the game-winning goal in overtime in Tuesday’s 2-1 win at the New York Islanders.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), MSG Plus (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE OILERS (5-8-1): Center Leon Draisaitl has accumulated eight points in seven games since missing two weeks due to injury and scored his third goal in four games before setting up McDavid’s decisive tally in Tuesday’s win. “There’s still things we need to clean up, but right now it’s about getting points and getting our game back in the right direction,” Draisaitl said. Draisaitl also praised the “great” 36-save effort of netminder Cam Talbot, who has a .937 save percentage on the road.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (9-4-1): There was a welcome sight at Wednesday’s practice with top-line forward Kyle Palmieri joining the team for the first time since injuring his foot during a practice session on Oct. 22. Palmieri, who amassed 56 goals over the past two seasons with the Devils and notched three tallies and seven points in seven games before he was hurt, told The Record of New Jersey that he is ready to play. Ex-Oiler Taylor Hall was blanked Tuesday after netting 12 points in his previous seven games.
1. Edmonton has lost all four games following a win this season and been outscored 14-5 in those setbacks.
2. Devils F Marcus Johansson (concussion), who has missed the last three games, is expected to be placed on injured reserve.
3. Oilers F Drake Caggiula sat out the third period Tuesday and was replaced by F Anton Slepyshev at Wednesday’s practice.
PREDICTION: Oilers 4, Devils 2