In an interesting schedule oddity, the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames met in the fifth game of the season and will finish their season series on the 4th-to-last game of the season. Calgary won the first meeting way back on October 11th on Sean Monahan‘s winning goal at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
New Jersey (34-28-16) didn’t receive any help last night from the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. The Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets both came away with wins. Columbus now holds a 3 point lead over the Devils and Toronto Maple leafs at 87 points. Philadelphia is now out of reach at 89 points.
Toronto still has one more game played over the Devils so the Devils hold that tiebreaker. Columbus now has one more Regulation and Overtime Win (ROW) over the Devils (35-34) so if the Devils are to make any sort of run, the first tiebreaker, ROW, could prove to be decisive. Unless the Devils start winning shootouts, they will have to win out anyway.
After tonight, the Devils will be even with Toronto in games played but Columbus will have a temporary game in hand going into their last home game tomorrow night.
The Devils have not had their morning skate yet, but one can assume Cory Schneider will get the start after standing on his head in all of his games lately. In the first meeting between the teams, Martin Brodeur had the start and stopped 26 of 29 shots.
Dainius Zubrus had a big game on Saturday night in a tough win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Zubrus had 2 goals on 2 shots and a +2 rating in the win.
Barring any substantial run/collapse by teams in the Western Conference, Calgary (33-38-7) will finish in the second-to-last spot in the West.
Rookie Kenny Agostino will return to New Jersey tonight for the Flames. The Flanders, NJ product made his NHL debut on March 21st.
Mike Cammalleri has had 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games as the Flames have now won two straight over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
After tonight’s game, Columbus will play Tuesday and Wednesday. This will give the Devils one game in hand going into their game on Thursday. Both teams will play on Friday, Columbus will wrap up their season on Saturday, and the Devils will finish on Sunday.
If Columbus loses two of those 4 games in regulation, the Devils will control their own destiny. If the Blue Jackets and Devils end tied in points and ROW (which is very possible) the tiebreaker turns to head-to-head. Columbus won the season series 3-1. Game 3: 2-1 Columbus win due to a shootout. What goes around, comes around.