Canucks could face Devil of a time in New Jersey
Among the troublesome areas for the New Jersey Devils this season is goal prevention. Cory Schneider is injured after struggling in his return from hip surgery while Keith Kinkaid is struggling to duplicate his effectiveness from last season.
Enter Mackenzie Blackwood, who has put together two straight stellar performances and off to a strong start to his career.
Whether it’s Kinkaid or Blackwood, the Devils will be attempting to get their third straight win Monday afternoon when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
New Jersey’s goaltenders own a combined 3.15 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage, resulting in the Devils allowing 125 goals or 3.38 per game, the fifth-highest total in the league
Kinkaid has a 3.02 GAA after he posted a 2.77 GAA in 41 games last season. Schneider is 0-5-1 with a 4.66 GAA but landed on injured reserve two weeks ago with an abdominal strain, resulting in Blackwood’s promotion from AHL Binghamton.
Since joining the Devils, Blackwood is 2-0 with a 1.58 GAA and a save percentage of .956 in five appearances (three starts). He stopped 40 shots in Thursday’s 5-2 victory at Boston and followed it up with a 37-save shutout in Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 win over Carolina.
“When you’re in a situation where things haven’t gone as you’d like, for guys to be able to come in and make an impact on the team is really important,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said.
Because of Blackwood’s performances, the Devils have a chance at getting three straight wins for the first time since allowing four goals during a season-opening four-game winning streak. New Jersey also is trying to allow two goals or fewer for the third straight game for the first time since its season-opening streak.
“It’s huge,” Blackwood said. “It’s awesome. Everyone dreams about this kind of stuff. The challenge here is to just keep going, keep moving forward, keep having success.”
Since a three-game losing streak Dec. 15-20, the Devils are 3-1 in their last four games and since a six-game skid (0-3-3) from Nov. 23-Dec. 3, they are 5-4-2 in their last 11 contests.
The Devils played Saturday without Taylor Hall, who missed his third game of the season and second in a row with a lower-body injury. The Devils are 2-0-1 in games Hall has missed and he is day-to-day after not practicing Sunday.
Vancouver is 2-0 on its second six-game road trip of the season after getting wins in Edmonton and Calgary. The Canucks went 1-3-2 on their first six-game trip that was part of an eight-game overall losing streak.
Since the eight-game skid, Vancouver is 9-5-2 in its last 16 games and 5-0-1 in its last six road games.
The Canucks head to New Jersey after Alex Edler scored the game-winning goal 3:06 into overtime of a 3-2 win at Calgary on Saturday. Edler played 27:45, blocked four shots and has four goals to go along with seven assists since returning from a knee injury Nov. 24.
“We’ve started to realize what we have to do to be successful and tonight we didn’t play great but got better in the second half and got to overtime and then anything can happen,” Edler said. “We’ve been having good pushes in the third period.”
Rookie Elias Pettersson also scored for the second straight game and his 39 points are the fifth-most in team history through 34 career games. The Canucks have won their last seven games when he scores and 8-0-1 in the last nine games when he registers at least one point.
“We got away with a game where we didn’t play our best, but we trust each other and we have the confidence to be patient,” Pettersson said. That’s how we won in overtime, but it was hard. The first shift I was gassed and then I almost had a breakaway, but you get a lot of space to use your skill.”
Brock Boeser also scored and has eight goals this month and 14 overall. Five of his goals are in the last eight games and Boeser totaled eight shots on goal Saturday.
New Jersey has won the last seven meetings since a 2-0 loss at Vancouver on Nov. 25, 2014.