The New Jersey Devils shoot for their 11th consecutive victory Thursday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Devils defeated the host Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Tuesday, with Jack Hughes scoring two goals and adding an assist.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 Tuesday, with goaltender Matt Murray returning from a groin injury to play his first game since Oct. 12.
The Maple Leafs already have been successful at ending one winning streak, stopping the Boston Bruins’ seven-game run with a 2-1 home victory on Nov. 5.
John Tavares scored his 400th career NHL goal Tuesday and Michael Bunting scored twice, but the game was about Murray, a former Penguin. Murray, who won two Stanley Cup championships with the Penguins, made 35 saves.
“I wanted to get off to a good start, coming back from injury and I think you could tell the guys were really playing hard in front of me,” Murray said. “Tons of blocked shots. I’ve got to give a specific shout out to Jordie (Benn), who made an unbelievable play in the second period there to save a goal on the back post. That’s a great road win for us. The guys put their hearts out.”
“(Murray) had an outstanding preseason for us; he was trending really well,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He played one game in Montreal in which our team was terrible in front of him and then he gets hurt. So he hasn’t had much of an opportunity. … For him to be back healthy and get a chance to play and to get a win where he plays a huge role in it, that’s great to see.”
Toronto has a modest two-game winning streak and has won five of its last seven (5-2-0).
After Toronto opened a 3-0 lead, Pittsburgh came back with two quick second-period goals to cut the lead to one. Toronto took a 4-2 lead into the third and shut down Pittsburgh.
“You’ve heard us talk of our standard, that always has to be there,” Tavares said. “To get where we want to get to, you have to defend well.”
In Montreal, the teams did not score in the first period and the Devils took a 3-1 lead in the second.
“We were loose in the first period, trading chances, and weren’t really committed to getting above the puck and preventing opportunities,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “And I’ve got to give (the Canadiens) some credit. They skated well, they hit a few holes on us. I thought the first period both goalies really made big saves.”
Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 15 of his 25 saves in the first period.
“We knew they wanted to attack from our mistakes,” Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler said. “We just tried to limit our mistakes and have good gaps against them and give them nothing, be close to them, don’t even give them a shot, and I think we were pretty good (Tuesday).”
Hughes scored both of his goals in the second period.
“(Hughes) really stayed with it the whole game and he played really good with the puck,” said Jesper Bratt, who had a goal and an assist.
The last time that the Devils won 10 consecutive games was March 28-April 18, 2006, when they had an 11-game streak to finish off their season. The club record is 13 consecutive wins from Feb. 26-March 23 in 2001.
–Field Level Media