The unbeaten New Jersey Devils are looking like a force to be reckoned with in the early going.
On the verge of their best start in 18 seasons, the Devils conclude a season-opening four-game road trip Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.
After totaling 11 goals in wins over Philadelphia and Florida, New Jersey (3-0-0) pulled out a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Michael Cammalleri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period and Cory Schneider made 26 saves.
"They’ve been like this for what, 20 years now?" Lightning goalie Evgeni Nabokov said of the Devils. "That’s New Jersey hockey. Anytime you play them that’s what you’re going to see, and everybody knows that. That’s what makes their team dangerous."
The Devils, 3 for their last 9 on the power play, haven’t opened 4-0 since 1995-96.
Cammalleri also added an assist Tuesday, giving him a team-leading five points in his first three games with New Jersey. Michael Ryder has four points while four other players have three.
"We’re getting contributions from a lot of different areas right now, and that’s what it takes to win," coach Peter DeBoer said.
The Devils, who opened 0-5-2 away from home last season, haven’t won four straight on the road since a seven-game run Jan. 11-Feb. 21, 2012.
New Jersey has taken eight of 10 against Washington, including three of four last season. Schneider started three of those games and allowed one goal in each, going 2-1-0.
Washington (1-0-2) has picked up at least one point in all three games after storming back to force overtime in Tuesday’s 6-5 shootout loss to San Jose. Braden Holtby allowed the game’s first three goals, and the Capitals trailed 5-3 before Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer scored 1:16 apart to tie things up with 4:35 remaining in regulation.
"We gave them too much room," center Nicklas Backstrom told the team’s official website. "… On the good side, we came back, we battled back; we didn’t quit. That is always a good thing. And, we got at least one point from this."
Ovechkin had his second straight two-goal game while adding an assist, and Mike Green finished with one of each. The Capitals outshot the Sharks 25-15 over the second and third periods after a sloppy first 20 minutes.
"The first period I didn’t like at all," coach Barry Trotz said. "I just didn’t like our commitment. We were a pass-first team in a shoot-first league in the first period."
Justin Peters stopped 14 of 16 shots in his Capitals debut after replacing Holtby less than 10 minutes in. Holtby, who posted a 0.48 goals-against average and one shutout in the first two games, is 2-2-1 with a 2.82 GAA against the Devils.
Ovechkin has 37 points in 32 games versus New Jersey, including five goals and two assists in his last four.
The Capitals, 0-0-2 at the Verizon Center, haven’t gone winless in their first three on home ice since 1983-84.