St. Louis Blues' David Perron pushes Carolina Hurricanes' Andrei Svechnikov of Russia, away from him as the two wait for a face off in the first period on November 6 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Carolina Hurricanes went into the Christmas break feeling good about themselves after a win over the Boston Bruins on Dec. 22. The New Jersey Devils made their return to work a triumphant one Thursday by beating the Bruins.
Now the task for two of the teams on the outside looking in of the Eastern Conference's playoff picture is to figure out how to play all the time like they did against the Bruins.
The Devils and Hurricanes will each be looking to build some consistency Saturday afternoon, when New Jersey hosts Carolina at the Prudential Center.
Both teams resumed play Thursday, when the Devils defeated the host Bruins, 5-2, and the visiting Hurricanes fell to the Washington Capitals, 3-1.
The Devils (13-16-7) are looking to win consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 13-15 and only the second time since opening the campaign with four straight victories. If New Jersey is to build a winning streak, it will require the type of formula head coach John Hynes saw on display against the Bruins.
"Our recipe to be good is we got a great performance in goal, our special teams were both very good and we had a real detailed, gritty, cohesive, systematic 5-on-5 game," Hynes said following practice Friday. "And that's what we need to do to win."
The Hurricanes (15-16-5) have also struggled to string together victories. Carolina is 4-8-2 since its most recent set of back-to-back wins and has just three winning streaks all season.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes failed to build on their pre-break win over the Bruins in a sluggish loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals. Carolina recorded just eight shots apiece in the first and second periods and went 0-for-4 on the power play.
"I think we just weren't ready to go like we needed to be," Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour told reporters following the game. "That's on me. I saw it and talked about it, but I should have done something different. I don't know what, but we were not ready to go like we needed to be against that team at this time of the year."
MacKenzie Blackwood and Petr Mrazek, each of whom started at goalie for the Devils and Hurricanes on Thursday, are likely to be in net again Saturday for their respective teams.
Blackwood, a 22-year-old rookie, earned his first NHL win Thursday, when he made 40 saves. Blackwood, who has made four appearances and two starts, has never faced the Hurricanes.
Mrazek took the loss Thursday after stopping 30 shots against the Capitals. He is 4-1-0 in six career appearances against the Devils.
A pair of key Devils players, left wingers Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson, will miss Saturday's game. Hall didn't play Thursday due to a lower body injury while Johansson, who is on injured reserve, has been sidelined the previous two games due to an upper body injury.
Hurricanes defenseman Hayden Fleury, who hasn't played since Dec. 13 due to a concussion, skated with his teammates Friday. His availability for Saturday is uncertain. Carolina may also be without center Jordan Staal, who was out the previous two games with an upper body injury.