Capitals-Devils Preview

The New Jersey Devils stunned one of the top teams in the league with their best offensive performance in nearly four years.

They might not need nearly as much production against the anemic Washington Capitals, particularly if Alexander Ovechkin remains out.

New Jersey hosts Washington on Friday night seeking its seventh win in eight meetings.

The Devils (21-19-11) matched their goal total from their previous three games in a 7-1 home victory over St. Louis on Tuesday. New Jersey needed only 23 shots for its highest-scoring game since a 7-1 win over the New York Islanders on April 10, 2010.

The Devils led 3-1 at the end of the first period, sparked by the game’s first two goals from Mark Fayne and Ryan Carter 24 seconds apart. A different player accounted for each goal, including Jaromir Jagr recording his team-leading 16th. Three came on four power-play opportunities.

"We had a good start, we jumped on them right away," Jagr said. "I think they were a little bit surprised. We were lucky, no question about it. The power play helped. It was a day when everything worked for us."

Cory Schneider was excellent again in goal, stopping 26 shots. He’s posted a 1.11 goals-against average over his last seven starts.

Reportedly scheduled to start Friday, Schneider would try to extend Washington’s offensive woes.

The Capitals (22-20-8) have dropped 12 of 15 and six in a row, totaling seven goals during the losing streak. Their next five contests are on the road, where they’ve lost six of seven, with four of those upcoming opponents ahead of them in the Eastern Conference.

Ovechkin, who leads the league with 35 goals, was sidelined for Tuesday’s 2-0 home loss to Ottawa due to a lower-body injury. He reportedly missed Thursday’s practice and appears unlikely to play against the Devils.

Ovechkin has scored three of Washington’s last seven goals.

”We’d love to have him out there, but we don’t have him right now," right wing Troy Brouwer said. "Even when he was in the lineup the last few games we still haven’t been scoring goals."

The Capitals won both games Ovechkin missed in October with an upper-body injury, but his supporting cast has been slumping of late. Washington’s next leading goal scorers – Joel Ward, Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom – have not found the net during the six-game skid.

Washington is still one of the top power-play teams in the NHL at 23.6 percent, but went 0 for 4 on Tuesday and is 1 for its last 21.

"Their goalie played well, but we had a lot of guys with some really good looks, good chances," coach Adam Oates said after Ottawa’s Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots. "We have to score some goals. I would say the chances were good chances tonight, and we had a lot of them. It is a matter of finishing."

The club hasn’t lost seven straight since an eight-game slide Dec. 2-18, 2010.

New Jersey won 5-4 at Washington on Dec. 21, scoring on both power plays and outshooting the Capitals 37-22. Jagr and Andy Greene each had a goal and two assists while Marek Zidicky scored twice.

Patrik Elias added two assists and has five goals and 10 assists in his last 12 matchups with Washington.