The New Jersey Devils are quite comfortable at home, and an extended stay could help them make up ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Devils look to continue their success on home ice Saturday night against the last-place Carolina Hurricanes.
New Jersey (23-26-9) is 10 points behind Boston for the conference’s second wild-card spot, but has a golden opportunity to cut into that deficit during a home-heavy stretch.
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The Devils improved to 8-1-2 in their last 11 games at the Prudential Center after Friday’s 4-2 victory over Vancouver. They’ve won the first two on this season-high six-game homestand – part of a 10-game stretch with nine in Newark.
"After the (Canucks’ second) goal, I felt we did a great job in their end not giving them a whole lot, and then didn’t realize their net was empty with about four and a half minutes left, so they were buzzing and unfortunately we took a penalty," said Cory Schneider, who had 21 saves. "We did a great job killing it off and got the shorthanded empty-netter, and that made all the difference."
Although Schneider has been excellent lately, posting a 1.38 goals-against average in his last 10 home starts, backup Keith Kinkaid is schedule to make his eighth start of the season. Kinkaid allowed all six goals in his last appearance, a 6-2 loss at Montreal on Feb. 7.
The stretch of home games should sit well with Devils center Patrik Elias, who’s scored eight of his 10 goals there with one in each of his last four games.
Elias has four goals and 20 points in his last 15 contests against Carolina.
He sat out the most recent meeting with the mumps and New Jersey fell 2-1 in a shootout Dec. 23 to end its four-game winning streak in the series.
Though the Hurricanes (20-29-7) are still at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, they’ve won two of three and are 11-7-3 since center Jordan Staal returned from a broken leg suffered in preseason.
Staal scored his third goal of the season and brother, Eric, added a goal and an assist in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Toronto.
"We’ve been fortunate to win a few since I’ve been in," Jordan said. "Hopefully we can keep moving in the right direction."
Carolina’s penalty killers were effective again, keeping the Maple Leafs scoreless on four opportunities. The Hurricanes have held opponents without a power-play goal in 56 of the last 59 short-handed situations.
”The penalty kill was good,” said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters. ”The PK has been good for a long time. It was a big part of the win tonight."
Cam Ward, who had 23 saves Friday, could be in net for his team-record 500th game, but he has a 3.33 GAA while losing his last three meetings with New Jersey.
Anton Khudobin made 18 saves in Carolina’s shootout win in December.