A sputtering power play led to the New Jersey Devils’ third loss
in a month in their last contest, but a meeting with the struggling
Atlanta Thrashers on Monday night could be just what they need to
The Devils (26-9-1) rank near the top of the league with a
power-play unit that converts 21.5 percent of its chances. They had
been even better during a 9-1-0 run, going 9 for 36, but failed to
score on any of four attempts in Saturday’s 4-1 loss at
“You look at how the game went. I feel that our puck control
wasn’t as it used to be,” coach Jacques Lemaire told the team’s
official Web site. “Special teams, we had so many power plays and I
think they got more chances than we did on our power play.
“For me, it determined the whole game. We get a goal on the
power play at the start, it’s a different game, then we start to
believe we’re fine.”
That loss dropped the Devils out of the overall NHL lead, and
they’ll host Pittsburgh on Wednesday in a meeting of the top two
teams in the Atlantic Division.
First, New Jersey faces Atlanta (18-15-4), which has dropped
four in a row and has allowed opponents to go 8 for 15 on the power
play over the last five games. The Thrashers haven’t dropped five
straight since Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2008.
They lost 4-3 at Tampa Bay on Saturday after opening this
season-high six-game road trip with a 6-4 loss at Boston on
“If we’re going to play the same way like that, we’re going to
be out of that (playoff) picture,” captain Ilya Kovalchuk said. “We
need to wake up and play as a team. It can’t be one guy or two guys
or three guys.”
Kovalchuk, who had a goal and assist against the Lightning, has
continued his outstanding play despite Atlanta’s 3-7-1 stretch.
Named last week to represent Russia at the upcoming Olympics,
Kovalchuk has six goals and eight assists on a nine-game points
He ranks among the league leaders with 22 goals and has a
team-high 41 points, but has managed just a goal and two assists in
his last six meetings with New Jersey.
Kovalchuk needs two points to reach 600 for his career.
The Devils beat the Thrashers 5-4 at Atlanta on Dec. 19, but
will need a better performance from Martin Brodeur. The four-time
Vezina Trophy winner was pulled after giving up three goals on six
shots in the opening period before Yann Danis made 19 saves the
rest of the way.
Brodeur, who will likely be back in net after making 36 saves
Saturday, wasn’t much better in the previous matchup with Atlanta,
stopping 15 shots in a 4-2 loss at Prudential Center on Oct.
Danis, though, has won all three games in his career against the
Thrashers while posting a 1.88 goals-against average with one
shutout. However, he hasn’t started since getting chased after
surrendering three goals on nine shots in the first period of a 5-3
win at Dallas on Nov. 21.