NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 31st (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (20-14-6) at New Jersey Devils (9-25-2), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils are mired in their worst losing streak of an already disappointing season. They will try to halt the slide at six games when they host the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at Prudential Center.
New Jersey, which is last in the NHL with just 20 points on the season, has lost six straight in regulation since its last win on Dec. 15 against Phoenix. The Devils have been outscored by a 27-6 margin during the current slide.
The Devils have also lost three straight since Jacques Lemaire took over as the team's head coach on an interim basis for the fired John MacLean. Lemaire led New Jersey to its first Stanley Cup title in 1995 and is in his third stint with the Devils.
New Jersey is closing a four-game homestand tonight and will try to avoid going winless on the residency. The Devils are just 5-11-2 as the host this year and have lost four straight and six of their last seven on home ice.
The Devils were dealt a loss by an Atlantic Division rival in their last outing on Wednesday. Henrik Lundqvist allowed just one goal on 44 shots to backstop the New York Rangers to a 3-1 victory at Prudential Center.
Travis Zajac tallied the lone goal for the Devils and Martin Brodeur stopped 23-of-25 shots in the loss, which was New Jersey's 11th setback in its last 12 games.
"There's a lot of frustration. It's been that kind of year," said New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene. "All we can do is show up every day and work. I know it sounds cliche but that's all we can do."
The Thrashers had lost four games in a row before earning a shootout victory Thursday night against visiting Boston.
Atlanta also dominated the Devils in a recent meeting, posting a 7-1 rout of a visiting New Jersey club on Dec. 18. That blowout win featured the first career hat trick for Atlanta forward Eric Boulton and ended the Thrashers' three-game losing streak in the series. Atlanta has three wins in its last five trips to New Jersey.
The Thrashers notched a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Thursday as Tim Stapleton scored the winner in the shootout victory at Philips Arena. Stapleton started the shootout by snapping a wrister into the net off the right post.
Tobias Enstrom scored both goals in regulation while Ondrej Pavelec stopped 42 shots for the Thrashers.
"It felt like we were playing good," said Enstrom. "With Ondrej in the net, he always plays good. He gives us a chance to win every night. We battled hard and that's what's most important."
Tonight marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Thrashers, who are 9-7-3 away from Atlanta this season.
Thrashers winger Evander Kane missed Thursday's game with an injured right arm and is expected to be a game-time decision for tonight's contest.
12/31 11:09:11 ET