Devils, Blue Jackets look to end skids

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets will be trying to stop going in reverse when the teams meet Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.

The Devils (27-18-8) have lost two consecutive games and the Blue Jackets (27-23-4) have fallen faster in the Metropolitan Division standings, dropping their fifth in a row on Friday night at Washington to the Capitals.

New Jersey comes to Columbus after a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. After going 4-6 in the last 10 games, the Devils are clinging to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

“For some reason, the last 10-20 games we’re not finding a way to get leads and keep leads,” Devils left winger Taylor Hall said. “We’re not far away. We’re really close. We just have to find a way to get over that hump.”

Hall certainly isn’t to blame. He extended his points streak to 12 with a goal and an assist against the Flames.

“You never lose confidence, you never panic,” Hall said. “The season will put you in spots where you want to lose confidence and panic. But as a group, you’ve got to find a way to regroup.”

Keith Kinkaid will make a career-high sixth consecutive start in goal for the Devils in place of Cory Schneider, who remains sidelined with a groin injury. Kinkaid has posted a 10-6-2 record with a mediocre 3.12 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

“It’s not all on him,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “He can play a little better. Our team can play a little better. We can all be a little bit better we have to be.”

The Blue Jackets might be just the team to help jump-start the Devils.

“It’s not like Columbus is blowing the doors off right now,” Hall said. “They’re a group that’s a really strong team, but they’re having a hard time finding wins so it’s going to be a good test for us. We have to get right back to it because we have a lot of games here.”

The Blue Jackets are in the midst of playing six of their next seven games against division opponents and eight against Eastern Conference teams. They could either make up ground or put themselves in a deeper hole.

“We’re playing Metro games coming up here against teams that we’re fighting with,” Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said. “It’s kind of in our hands right now, which is the best way to have it. We’ve been playing good hockey and not getting the results. A lot of other teams aren’t getting results either.

“We’re in a good spot. It’s going to be a tight playoff race. I’m looking forward to it. It should be fun.

After Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Capitals in Washington, the Blue Jackets don’t have time to lick their wounds with back-to-back games. They’ve gone from leading the Metro early in the season to out of the playoff picture at the moment.

But they like the way they’re playing in recent games. They’re just not getting the results.

“It’s just these little moments in our games that our costing us,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “It’s disappointing because we’re doing so much good. We’re controlling our own destiny. I think that’s something we have to keep in mind.

“We know we have it in here to be a playoff team. We’re a little fragile, but we’ve got to find that edge. We’ve just got to get ready for the next one. What a great opportunity in front of us to feel good about ourselves. You need it to go on a run to make noise in the postseason. We’ll get that feeling again.”

The Blue Jackets’ struggles can be traced to their lack of offense and killing penalties along with getting some unfortunate bounces. They’ve given up a power play goal in their past seven games and in 15 of the last 21.

“There’s no sense in getting frustrated,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “You’ve got to work through it and get ready for our next game.