NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 8th (All times eastern)
New Jersey Devils (36-19-2) at Philadelphia Flyers (28-25-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Ilya Kovalchuk will seek his first goal in a New Jersey Devils uniform when his new team visits the rival Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Wachovia Center for the opener of a home-and-home series between Atlantic Division foes.
The Devils made a big trade last week to acquire Kovalchuk's services from Atlanta, but the Russian sniper has gone without a goal in his first two games with New Jersey.
Kovalchuk had two assists in his Devils' debut Friday against Toronto, but was held without a point the following night against the New York Rangers. He has 31 goals on the season and has excellent career numbers against the Flyers, posting 18 goals and 14 assists in 30 games versus Philadelphia.
The Devils have lost three of four and five out of seven, and with 74 points are just two ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division.
New Jersey lost its fourth straight road game Saturday in New York, as the Rangers notched the 3-1 victory at Madison Square Garden behind 41 saves from Henrik Lundqvist.
Dainius Zubrus lit the lamp for New Jersey and Martin Brodeur allowed three goals on 25 shots to take the loss. The lone bright spot for the Devils was left winger Patrik Elias, who returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a concussion. He picked up the lone assist on Zubrus' tally.
Despite losing seven of their last eight games on the road, New Jersey still has a strong 17-10-2 record as the host this year. The Devils will host the Flyers on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia has dropped two straight and four of its last six, a cold stretch that has not helped the Flyers' push for the playoffs. Philly has 59 points and is currently tied with the Rangers for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East.
The Flyers won the opener of a three-game road trip by beating Calgary last Monday, but were then dealt consecutive regulation losses in Edmonton and Minnesota, dropping both of those tests by one-goal margins.
Philadelphia was dealt a 2-1 loss Saturday in Minnesota, as Anton Khudobin led the Wild to victory by stopping 38-of-39 shots in his first NHL start.
"I liked the first period; we had lots of opportunities," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "In the second period, we took penalties. We got our legs going a little bit at the end, but [the shots] didn't drop. We need to count them."
Daniel Carcillo notched the lone score for the Flyers, while Michael Leighton took the loss despite making 28 saves. Leighton was starting in place of Ray Emery, who is day-to-day with a hip injury. Emery, who is 5-3-2 in 10 career games against the Devils, is questionable for tonight.
The Flyers made a minor trade on Saturday, dealing defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft to Detroit for forward Ville Leino. It's not clear when Leino, who had four goals and three assists in 42 games with the Red Wings this season, will make his Flyers debut.
Philadelphia has won seven of its last nine home games and is 16-11-2 as the host this season.
The Flyers have taken two of three from New Jersey so far this season and own six wins in the last 10 encounters between these rivals. The Devils have lost two straight and four of their last five tests in the City of Brotherly Love.
02/08 10:42:50 ET