The New Jersey Devils are enjoying a solid season, though they know they aren't making it easy on themselves by relying mostly on defense and goaltender Cory Schneider.
The Edmonton Oilers are trying to stay positive through some difficult times.
The visiting Devils are hoping to get untracked offensively and hand the Oilers a fourth straight loss Friday night.
New Jersey (10-7-1) is averaging an NHL-worst 25.8 shots, managing 20 in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Calgary in the opener of a three-game trip.
“It's hard to win games with two goals,” winger Lee Stempniak said. “You'd like to see us score another goal and give ourselves a chance.”
Schneider was upset that he allowed two goals in a 3:29 span of the first period. The game was scoreless to that point, with the Devils feeling they had the better opportunities.
“I thought we had some real quality chances early in the game before they made it 1-0 that we didn't capitalize on and then we had some real good pushes late that we weren't able to finish,” coach John Hynes said.
Schneider owns a 1.63 career goals-against average versus Edmonton for his second-best mark against a Western Conference foe. He posted a 29-save shutout the last time he played at Rexall Place on Nov. 21, 2014.
The Devils are allowing 2.33 goals per game thanks in part to Schneider's 2.05 GAA. They have scored a power-play goal in three straight games and have killed off 29 of opponents' last 31 chances with the man advantage.
“They've got exceptional special teams,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “They've got a tremendous goaltender that can be the first star on any given night. They still have a defensive mind-set that's very strong, they don't beat themselves.”
New Jersey could get its offense going against an Oilers club which has lost nine of 12 while allowing an average of 3.8 goals.
Edmonton (6-12-1) owns the NHL's worst record, though six losses in its last 11 games have been by one goal. That was the case in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime defeat to Chicago.
Leon Draisaitl helped the Oilers gain a point with the tying goal with 2:46 left in regulation. Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot also scored, and star Taylor Hall recorded his fifth point in four games.
“We also have to look at some of the things we're trying to implement systematically, individually as players, they have to be rewarded with some of the things they do well in nights where we don't win,” McLellan said. “It's called progress, it doesn't show up in the wins and losses but we are moving forward.”
Defenseman Oscar Klefbom and winger Matt Hendricks missed practice Thursday with absences that were not explained. Klefbom leads Edmonton in ice time while Hendricks is among the NHL leaders in winning face-offs at 59.8 percent.
New Jersey has received 33 combined points from Mike Cammalleri and Stempniak, who are former Flames who can expect to be booed by the Oilers faithful. Adam Henrique has scored six of his team-high eight goals on the road.
- Adam Henrique
- Benoit Pouliot
- Cory Schneider
- Edmonton Oilers
- Jordan Eberle
- Lee Stempniak
- Leon Draisaitl
- Matt Hendricks
- Michael Cammalleri
- New Jersey Devils
- Oscar Klefbom
- Taylor Hall