Less than a year removed from finishing in last place in the Metropolitan Division, the surprising New Jersey Devils have gone from worst to first entering the final week of 2017. The surging Devils will hope the Christmas break doesn’t stall their momentum when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
New Jersey owns a one-point edge over Washington and Columbus (with two games in hand) atop the division and is riding a season-high four-game winning streak. “We don’t see backup goalies anymore,” said Devils forward Taylor Hall. “We get every team’s full lineup and full attention.” While New Jersey is playing its fifth straight at home, the Red Wings are wrapping up a four-game road trip and attempting to halt a two-game slide in which they were tied in the third period both times. “We’ve got to find a way to make a play to make the difference in a game,” said Detroit coach Jeff Blashill, whose team dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the visiting Devils on Nov. 25.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, MSG Plus2 (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (13-15-7): Detroit has been in a tailspin for more than a month, winning just three of its last 15 games (3-7-5) and failing to score more than one goal eight times during that stretch. Leading scorer Dylan Larkin has one goal in that 15-game swoon. Henrik Zetterberg scored four goals in the first seven games of the season, but he has tallied once in the past 28 games, although the captain has collected seven assists in the past five contests.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (21-9-5): Brian Boyle has four goals and four assists during a four-game point streak but, along with forward Kyle Palmieri, exited Saturday’s 4-1 win over Chicago for what coach John Hynes termed “precautionary reasons.” Palmieri also has scored a power-play goal Saturday to give him three points in three games since missing nearly a month due to a foot injury. Hall has multiple points in five of his last 12 games, including at Detroit last month.
1. Devils G Cory Schneider is 5-0-1 in his last six starts but is just 4-7-2 with a 3.21 goals-against average versus Detroit.
2. Red Wings F Frans Nielsen scored the team’s seventh short-handed goal Saturday, which leads the NHL.
3. New Jersey has killed off 27 of 29 power plays over the past 10 games.
PREDICTION: Devils 3, Red Wings 2