Despite clawing back from a pair of two-goal deficits against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, it wasn’t enough for the New Jersey Devils, who suffered their third overtime loss and remained winless on the road. Currently 0-2-2 away from the Rock, New Jersey hopes to reverse their fortunes tonight as they get ready to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who they’re playing for the third and final time this year. With the season series split 1-1-0, the Devils would love to end their Florida road trip on a high note and come out of Tampa Bay with the win, which would make the Devils 5-2-3 at the ten-game mark this season.
The Devils are deploying the same lineup that they’ve had the past few games, which has given them some encouraging results, and has shown strong signs of the team finally gelling with each other. Like the Devils, Tampa Bay has played their best hockey at home in the early stages of the season where they’ve gone 3-1-1 (with one of those wins being against the Devils). Despite being involved in some high-scoring games, the Lightning have struggled to put together wins in recent weeks, and have gone just 1-3-1 in their last five games. The Devils gave Tampa Bay their second loss in a volatile six-game road trip for the Bolts, who wound up going 3-3-0 before returning back home.
Who to watch
Damon Severson…He currently leads the Devils in scoring with one goal and eight points in his first nine games this season, and is certainly seeing his hard work this offseason pay tremendous dividends for the third-year defenseman. Severson has had three multi-point games this season, and has tallied six points in his last four contests. He had a goal and two points last time New Jersey played the Lightning, and is looking very similar to the type of player he was in the early stages of his rookie season, which can only mean good things for the Devils moving forward.
Nikita Kucherov…With ten points in his last five games, Kucherov enters tonight’s matchup as one of the hottest players in the league. He has three goals and 13 points this season, which currently puts him in a five-way tie for second overall in league scoring. He’s been the driving force behind Tampa Bay’s scoring surge over their past few games, and makes a one-two punch with center Steven Stamkos that can be disastrous for the Devils tonight if they don’t find a way to contain Tampa’s offense.
What to watch
Shorthanded situations (yet again)…This has truly been a reoccurring theme for the Devils that these pregame articles have documented very well in these early stages of the season. If staying disciplined hasn’t factored into New Jersey’s performance so far, their inconsistent performance on the penalty kill has been their main demeanor in their inability to string together consecutive wins. The Devils slid to 19th in penalty killing, which was highlighted after they surrendered two power play goals when only being shorthanded three times in Thursday night’s game against the Panthers. While scoring is showing some sign of improvement for the Devils, the balance of scoring and surrendering goals is still a delicate equation that their performance on the penalty kill can completely throw off.
Where to watch
SUN (Tampa Bay)
MSG +2 (Local)
When to watch