Since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, playoff appearances and lengthy winning streaks are rare occurrences for the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils are attempting to change the narrative about whether they are a postseason team, and their latest triumph made them realize some of the things it takes to play beyond the regular season.
Coming off an impressive comeback over the Edmonton Oilers, the Devils seek their sixth straight win Saturday night when they visit the Calgary Flames.
New Jersey is on its first five-game winning streak since Dec. 15-27, 2017, which came during its last playoff season. The Devils last won six straight when they ended the 2011-12 season with six consecutive victories before advancing out of the Eastern Conference as a sixth seed.
Coming off lopsided wins over Columbus and Vancouver, the Devils impressively extended their run Thursday night. New Jersey rallied in the third period for a 4-3 victory over Edmonton that also gave them eight wins in their first 11 games and eight in nine games since starting the season with consecutive 5-2 losses.
Miles Wood scored twice and then set up the tying goal by Ryan Graves. Jesper Bratt scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:08 remaining — seven seconds after Graves’ tally — which set a team record for the fastest two goals.
“We all had that feeling: We can turn this around, we can play a lot better,” Bratt said. “And we all said if we want to play playoff hockey and win important games at the end of the year, these are the games you’ve got to turn around.”
New Jersey’s comeback occurred after goalie Mackenzie Blackwood exited in the second with an injury and did not return. The Devils did not immediately announce an update, but it is possible Vitek Vanecek will start Saturday.
Calgary enjoyed a similar stretch as New Jersey when it won five of its first six games after losing star Johnny Gaudreau in free agency. But the Flames head into Saturday on a three-game losing streak, along with four losses in their past six, and are coming off their worst showing of the season.
In one-goal home losses to Edmonton and Seattle, the Flames took leads into the third and allowed a combined five goals in the final periods. In Thursday’s 4-1 loss to visiting Nashville, Calgary allowed the first goal in the final minute of the first period and then two more in the opening 2:27 of the second to fall in too deep a hole. Blake Coleman scored Calgary’s lone goal Thursday.
“It was just unacceptable,” Calgary center Elias Lindholm said. “Three in a row at home here, it’s not good enough. Last game, we were up 4-2 and lose. We’re a veteran group and that shouldn’t happen either. We talked about it. It was unacceptable last game, and tonight might have been worse.”
Especially since Nashville entered 1-6-1 in its past eight games before soundly defeating the Flames.
“That was just unacceptable,” Coleman said. “It was a complete lack of energy. There was just nothing.”
The Flames have won the past eight meetings, including the past four by a combined 25-12 margin.
–Field Level Media