Fri, 02 Jun 2023

Wild, Devils close in on division leaders

Field Level Media
21 Mar 2023, 05:40 GMT+10

With first place in their respective divisions in play, the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild will look to build on their latest victories.

The Wild also will aim to continue their recent success over the Devils when the teams meet in Newark, N.J., on Tuesday night.

New Jersey (45-18-7, 97points) is one point behind Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina and halted an 0-2-1 skid with Sunday's comeback 5-2 victory at Tampa Bay. On Tuesday the Devils will return home, where they're in a 1-2-1 rut.

"We have to move on," New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. "We just talked about what it's going to take to keep winning hockey games. We know that this is a time of year where teams are really desperate. Our desperation was greater than (Tampa Bay's on Sunday).

"Hopefully we can build off that."

The Devils, though, are 0-2-2 in their past four games against the Wild and have just one victory in the past seven meetings during the series. Tomas Tatar scored twice, but New Jersey fell 3-2 in a shootout at Minnesota on Feb. 11.

Amid an 8-1-2 stretch, the Wild (40-22-8, 88 points) are one point behind first-place Dallas in the Central Division. Minnesota's lone regulation loss during its run came 5-2 against NHL-leading Boston on Saturday, but the Wild rebounded for a 5-3 home victory over Washington on Sunday.

The Wild are 3-1-1 since superstar Kirill Kaprizov went down with a lower-body injury that's likely to keep him out at least two more weeks. While Matt Boldy recorded his second career hat trick Sunday, eight other Minnesota players posted at least one point.

"The team has stepped up," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "Not just a few guys. Everybody.

"They've always tried to score, but with (Kaprizov's) absence, they all know that there's a little extra push that's needed to be had because, literally, he's playing half the game. So there's opportunities for people, and people have been able to step up."

Boldy certainly has, with five goals and four assists in the past five games. Marcus Johansson, acquired from the Capitals in late February, has two goals and five assists over the same stretch.

Meanwhile, the Wild's Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.13 goals-against average and .936 save percentage during his current seven-game winning streak. However, backup Filip Gustavsson has yielded nine goals in losing his past two starts after posting back-to-back shutouts. Gustavsson did make 27 saves against the Devils on Feb. 11.

New Jersey's Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier were held without a point at Minnesota. Bratt, though, posted his first career hat trick Sunday vs. Tampa Bay. Hischier reached the 30-goal mark for the first time Sunday and has two goals and three assists in the past three contests for the Devils.

New Jersey's Vitek Vanecek (2.51 goals-against average) stopped 22 shots for the win Sunday. Teammate Akira Schmid (2.05 GAA) has allowed six goals in his past two starts.

--Field Level Media

More Fort Worth News

Access More

Sign up for Fort Worth News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!