Devils begin back-to-back against Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils got away from what they’d be doing in their most recent games. That wasn’t a bad thing for the Devils, who would like to maintain their current direction. The Ducks, on the other hand, hope to get back in their groove as soon as possible.
Both teams will get a chance when they meet Sunday evening at Honda Center.
The Devils (10-12-5) are coming off a 6-3 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, ending a six-game losing streak that dropped them into last place in the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey had two days in southern California to enjoy the win but now face back-to-back games at Anaheim and the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
“It’s important for us to kind of hit the reset button again and get ready for the back-to-back coming up this weekend,” New Jersey forward Kyle Palmieri said after the win in Los Angeles.
The Ducks (15-11-5) came out flat against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night and then were overrun in the third period of the 4-1 loss, ending a five-game winning streak.
“Any time you have a lapse, it’s going to be frustrating,” Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson said. “You have to learn from it, come back (Saturday), we’ll have a good practice and be ready for Sunday.”
The matchup between the Ducks and Devils will also mark the second return of New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen to Anaheim since he was traded to the Devils on Nov. 30, 2017, for forward Adam Henrique.
Vatanen, whom the Ducks selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft and made his debut with Anaheim in February 2012, had an assist in his first return to Honda Center, a 4-2 win by the Ducks on March 18.
Henrique had a six-game point streak end in the loss to Carolina on Friday night, but he remains third on the team in points with 17.
Palmieri also came up through the Anaheim organization. He was selected by the Ducks in the same draft as Vatanen but in the first round. Palmieri spent parts of four seasons in Anaheim before he was traded to the Devils on June 26, 2015, for second and third-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Palmieri scored a career-high 30 goals in his first season with New Jersey. He’s on pace to break that mark, coming into the weekend with 14 goals in 27 games.
Palmieri scored twice against the Kings on Thursday, ending a four-game road losing streak, though the Devils are still just 3-10-1 away from home.
Palmieri said road trips do have their way of bringing teams together.
“You get away, your routine chances a little bit and it’s a fresh start. We’ve got to just focus on the game at hand,” Palmieri said. “You can’t worry about our road record this year, and you can’t worry about October or November. It’s something to build off, for sure.”