The New Jersey Devils’ promising start looks increasingly distant as they struggle to kill off penalties.
A previously ineffective Winnipeg Jets power play could be poised to capitalize after a strong showing with the man advantage.
Winnipeg seeks its fifth victory in six meetings Thursday night when it visits New Jersey.
The Devils have let opponents score on 33.3 percent of power plays (14 of 42), including a 44.0 percent clip during a 1-3-2 stretch. They allowed three power-play goals on seven chances in Tuesday’s 8-3 loss at Pittsburgh.
New Jersey (4-3-2) went ahead 1-0 on Dainius Zubrus’ goal nine seconds in and led 3-1 after Tuomo Ruutu scored at the 5:14 mark of the second period. Peter DeBoer’s club then gave up a power-play goal to Evgeni Malkin at the 8:56 mark, the first of four unanswered goals for Pittsburgh over a 9:53 span.
The Devils are finding themselves short-handed 4.7 times per game for the second-highest rate in the NHL. They faced 3.2 penalty kills per game last season.
"We beat ourselves," DeBoer said. "I thought we were in a pretty good place for awhile there and as a group we beat ourselves over the last 35-40 minutes."
The goals were their most allowed since an 8-1 loss at Ottawa on Oct. 21, 2006. Cory Schneider gave up five goals on 23 shots and Scott Clemmensen surrendered three in relief. Schneider, who has started every game, owns a 3.78 goals-against average over the last six.
The Jets have won three of four following a four-game skid. They were 1 for 28 on the power play prior to going 2 for 4 in Tuesday’s 4-3 road win over the Islanders.
Winnipeg (4-5-0) trailed 1-0 after the first period before Andrew Ladd and Paul Postma scored power-play goals in the first 4:06 of the second. The Jets gave up two goals before the end of the period, but Ladd put them ahead again with another goal early in the third. Bryan Little recorded three assists to push his team-leading point total to nine.
"We got our feet moving after the first period," coach Paul Maurice said. "The power play gave us some life and we responded well to them coming back on us and played our best hockey in the third."
The power play could become even more potent with Evander Kane possibly back in the picture. Kane, who hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in the opener, was upgraded to day to day. Maurice said his return is "just a matter of him getting cleared to play." Kane has 26 points on the power play over the last four seasons.
Mike Cammalleri, who leads the Devils with five goals, is day to day after missing Tuesday’s game with a jaw injury he suffered Friday against Dallas.
Kane had three goals as Winnipeg outscored New Jersey 6-1 to sweep two meetings last season. Ondrej Pavelec is 3-0-1 with a 1.47 GAA in his last four starts against the Devils.