Alexei Ponikarovsky will play his first game against Carolina since the Hurricanes dealt him to the Devils on Jan. 20. Ponikarovsky was in his first season with Carolina, but struggled to make an impact as the team fell to 15th in the Eastern Conference. After registering 15 points in 49 games in Carolina, he has accounted for 16 in just 29 games in New Jersey.
"We're playing pretty good as a team," Ponikarovsky said. "When you're in a playoff spot, it's a little different than when you're out of the playoffs. The atmosphere and everything else is a little different, for sure. Our focus is to win some games and get some points on the board."
He's only 17 but he can see the ice so well and he moves the puck and goes to the open ice all the time, so I just think he's a player that is ready to play in the NHL. I'm really looking forward to coaching someone like this.
— U.S. National Junior Team coach Ron Wilson on Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft