The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils have a lot in common.
Both were dominant teams over the previous two decades but are no longer at that level today. Both have dealt with recent injuries. And both teams are coming off shootout wins that were not particularly impressive but snapped lengthy losing streaks.
Each team looks for a second straight win when they meet at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Friday night.
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The Red Wings were outshot 33-24 in a 2-1 win in Buffalo on Monday. It was only their third win in 12 games and they recorded just one regulation victory in their past 13 contests. After a 6-2 start, the Red Wings descended into a 3-6-1 tailspin that may have been righted thanks to a win against the Sabres.
“It's a big deal to get two points,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “When you haven't had enough points, you've got to find a way to win and sometimes it's not as pretty as you want it to be … we've got to build on it and get better.”
The Red Wings own the NHL's fifth-worst offense but goalie Jimmy Howard's outstanding play has kept the team afloat during the first quarter of the season. After opening the year as the backup, Howard earned more playing time due to his .943 save percentage in 11 games.
With the Red Wings scuffling against the Sabres, Howard held the fort. He may have to do the same against the Devils.
“Confidence is a big thing,” Blashill said to the Detroit News. “We haven't won enough games and that eats away at you a little bit, and then also we made a few mistakes and got on our heels.
“That's a hard thing. Getting through that was great, and Jimmy Howard was a big factor in that, and then I thought we built towards better hockey in the second.”
The Devils have been something of a mirror image of the Red Wings this season.
After a 9-3-3 start, the Devils lost three straight in regulation to end a four-game road trip. That was partly because of missing key pieces, as left wingers Taylor Hall and Mike Cammalleri were absent from the lineup. Hall has a lower-body injury but Hall missed six games to be with his daughter, who underwent surgery after a severe case of pneumonia.
Cammalleri returned in a big way against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, as he registered a goal and three assists in a 5-4 shootout win that saw the Devils rally from a 3-0 deficit. The Devils have been nearly as inept as the Red Wings when it comes to offense this season, so Cammalleri's presence was a welcome sight in New Jersey.
“He looked great,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “He was making plays, he was really confident in his shot and having him come back was a boost.
“His personality, leadership and impact on the team. … He has some moxie to him as a player and a person and that's all positive. His personality and presence was a big factor tonight.”
Cammalleri said overcoming a three-goal deficit is the type of win that can change a team's fortunes, something they need after their recent slump.
“We've always liked the character and make-up of the people in this room, and we'll continue to build on that,” Cammalleri said to NJ.com. “It's one game, but to build trust in one another, you kind of build these layers of things that either build trust or they don't you either become a good team or you don't. Let's hope we can go in the right direction.”