NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have an opportunity to inch one step closer to the second of the Eastern Conference's two wild-card spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET, MSG, MSG PLUS).
The Devils enter the game against their Metropolitan Division rival trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets by five points for the second wild-card spot with eight of their remaining 12 regular-season games at home. The Blue Jackets travel to Uniondale, N.Y., on Sunday for a matinee against the New York Islanders. The Devils are seven points behind the Rangers with a game in hand.
The Devils have won three of the previous four meetings against the Rangers and are expected to have fourth-line left wing Ryan Carter back in the lineup. Carter missed the past three games with an upper-body injury but was skating with usual partners Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier during the morning skate Saturday. Left wing Tim Sestito, who on Monday was recalled from Albany of the American Hockey League, is out with an upper-body injury.
"It will be good to get him back," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of Carter. "We'll need that line's energy against these guys. They've had a history of playing well as a line against the Rangers and we'll need that."
Carter has three goals, four points and 30 penalty minutes in 19 games against the Rangers and is looking forward to returning to the lineup.
"As I've said before, in terms of rivalry and passion, I haven't been involved in one like the Devils-Rangers since probably high school," he said. "To have one at the NHL level makes it easy to get up for these games."
DeBeor opted for seven defensemen in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, and it paid off despite the fact Sestito's injury in the first period left the Devils with 10 forwards. Based on the morning skate, defensemen Eric Gelinas and Peter Harrold, and forward Damien Brunner appear to be the healthy scratches against the Rangers.
"The Rangers are a four-line team and when we lost Sestito we were forced to go to three lines early," DeBoer said. "We'll need four lines [against the Rangers]."
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is the starter; he is 49-31-5 with 15 ties, nine shutouts, a 2.18 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 100 regular-season games against the Rangers.