National Hockey League
Devils-Jets Preview
National Hockey League

Devils-Jets Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 5:12 p.m. ET

While New Jersey has matched its top three-game scoring output, Winnipeg's same stretch could pass as binary code.

The Devils' system isn't much more complicated: Getting pucks low and on net has them chasing their second four-game winning streak of the season Saturday night in Winnipeg as the Jets aim to right things in the third of a six-game homestand.

After Thursday's 6-3 home win over Ottawa, the Devils (24-19-5) have scored 12 goals on the winning streak following a 1-5-0 span in which they managed six. Kyle Palmieri had two goals and an assist, Travis Zajac had a goal and three assists, and Joseph Blandisi scored his first NHL goal with two assists as the trio's line paced a five-goal first period.

"I think we've been clicking the last couple of games," Blandisi told the team's official website. "We're always down low in their zone creating chances, but just really haven't found a way to put it in but we stuck with it and stayed positive. There was no negative talk. Pucks were going in for us (Thursday). I think we worked pretty well down low."


For Palmieri, switching coasts has made all the difference. In five seasons with Anaheim, he topped out at 31 points in 71 games in 2013-14. He's got 35 in 48 games this season, including his first 20-goal campaign.

Zajac, meanwhile, had been limited to an assist in his previous nine games. It'll take quite a few more multipoint games to get him back to his career-best pace of 0.82 points per from 2009-10, but he's at least overcoming last season's letdown. Zajac averaged a career-low 0.34 points in 2014-15 and is up to 0.58 this season, two points shy of matching last season's total of 25 in 34 fewer games.

"It definitely helps the confidence," Zajac said. "You got to stay hungry in those situations, and contribute again in the next game."

The same goes for the power play. Palmieri and Blandisi scored on New Jersey's only power-play chances after the man advantage was 0 for 19 in the previous eight games.

Collectively, though, it's still amounting to an offensive struggle. The Devils are still scoring 2.27 goals per game, which leads only last season (2.15) and 2010-11 (2.09) for their worst average in franchise history.

Any of those numbers would be appealing to the Jets (21-23-3) over the last three games. Thursday's 4-1 home loss to Nashville was their third straight with one goal, though they at least won the first one in Minnesota on Jan. 15. That came on the road, and Winnipeg has dropped four of five at home with 10 goals.

The Jets were without forwards Alexander Burmistrov, Adam Lowry, Mark Scheiefle and Drew Stafford.

"We can play a little smarter and we can pass the puck better - we know that - but, clearly, we're in a tough spot with the losses that are mounting here at home," coach Paul Maurice told the team's official website. "I think they played hard, but they can play better. We can do more. If you throw your hands up because you've got a couple guys injured ... that's not getting you far.

"We had 10 guys with a grand total of four shots on goal. It's the National Hockey League. They're good players. They can get pucks to the net."

Cory Schneider is another obstacle having posted a 1.61 goals-against average and .943 save percentage over a 4-1-0 span.

Jets rookie Connor Hellebuyck is trying to avoid dropping three straight in regulation for the first time, but he has a 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage in the last three games.

The series has gone Winnipeg's way with a 3-1 win in New Jersey as part of a 6-0-2 span in which the Devils have scored nine goals.


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