The New Jersey Devils (10-3-4) will look to cap-off a two-game series sweep against the Washington Capitals (5-10-1) this afternoon. The Devils edged out Washington on Thursday night and will look to do it again after a day-off today. The game is set for an early noon puck drop at Verizon Center. Here are the game notes and the preview:
First Place Draw: A victory today would give the Devils sole possession over first place in the Atlantic Division — again — over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both teams are tied with 24 points and with the Penguins idle, even an overtime loss would give New Jersey an advantage in the two-team race.
Beatin’ Up: It’s important for New Jersey to come away with another win against the last-place Capitals. After facing stiff competition for most of the season so far, this is a little bit of a lull in the Devils’ schedule. After today, New Jersey will return home to face the Winnipeg Jets (7-8-1) twice — on Sunday and Thursday. It’s essential that the Devils get these wins against middle-of-the-pack teams, because every other point is going to be difficult to come by.
Happy Birthday, Stefan Matteau: Devils rookie forward Stefan Matteau turns 19-years-old today and he’ll celebrate that milestone by playing against the Capitals. Just like on Thursday night, Matteau will skate along the third line for New Jersey with Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta in place of the injured Ryan Carter.
Hedberg Redemption: After his only bad start of the season — a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders last Saturday night — goalie Johan Hedberg will be back between the pipes for New Jersey today. Before his last start, Hedberg had allowed just two goals in three starts. Even now, he is 2-1-1 with 1.71 goals-against-average with one shutout, but he’ll look to improve all of those numbers against Washington.