The New Jersey Devils did plenty of things wrong Tuesday and captain Nico Hischier acknowledged the flawed performance.
Yet things are going so well for the Devils that the sub-par start did not prevent the Devils from winning. The hottest team in the Eastern Conference seeks an eighth consecutive victory Thursday night when it hosts the struggling Ottawa Senators at Newark, N.J.
New Jersey has won seven straight for the first time since it won eight consecutive in February of 2011.
This season’s streak vaulted the Devils to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings as New Jersey also is 10-1-0 since opening the season with consecutive 5-2 losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings.
In the first four games of the winning streak, the Devils outscored opponents by a dominating 19-5 margin. The past three games required some sort of comeback to earn one-goal wins, as the Devils built the longest active winning streak in the East.
On Thursday at Edmonton, the Devils overcame a two-goal deficit with three goals in the third period, including two in seven seconds. Two nights later in Calgary, the Devils fell behind in the opening minutes then blew a two-goal lead before winning in overtime.
On Tuesday, the Devils allowed the first goal, had two goals disallowed and blew a one-goal lead in the third period but emerged with a 3-2 win over Calgary when Hischier scored his sixth goal off a rush with 8:10 remaining after Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Graves also scored.
“I mean it wasn’t pretty for sure. It wasn’t our best game,” Hischier said. “I think we didn’t have our legs in the first period. To be honest (it) was embarrassing. But we found a way and came back and, in the end, if you’re going to win those games, it’s huge.”
The Devils received bad injury news earlier Tuesday when they announced goalie Mackenzie Blackwood would be out three to six weeks with a knee injury, making Vitek Vanecek the starter. Vanecek tied a career high with his sixth straight win by making 33 saves in a game when the Devils conceded more than 25 shots for the third time.
Ottawa owns the NHL’s second-longest active losing streak with each loss coming by two goals or fewer. During each loss, the Senators have held a lead or been tied at some point.
Ottawa has particularly struggled in the third period, getting outscored 10-6, including three empty-net goals.
On Tuesday, the Senators absorbed a 6-4 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks, allowing four goals in the third after holding a 35-16 edge in shots through 40 minutes.
“There’s a recipe here and we just need to find a way, and once that happens, we’re confident in our group,” Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk said. “We’re going to be positive in here. There’s no negativity and we’re going to find a way. It’s going to be fun when we get out of this and kind of prove everybody wrong.”
The Senators held a one-goal lead after 20 minutes. But in the third period, they gave up quick goals immediately after Tim Stuetzle and Claude Giroux scored for Ottawa on power plays that got the team within one goal each time.
–Field Level Media