NEWARK, NJ - After a five-day break, the New Jersey Devils shake off the cobwebs and look to build off their two-game win streak with a game against the Arizona Coyotes.
Devils head coach John Hynes was asked how he kept his team sharp over the break.
"We talked prior to the week about putting some good work in, practicing at a good pace and having a high level of execution," Hynes began. "We felt like we did it, but then also making sure that mentally and physically they have enough chance to rest and recuperate.
"So we have a lot of energy and we talked with them yesterday after practice and this morning in our meeting," Hynes continued. "It's about getting engaged and being ready to battle and compete. Fight for your ice and make sure that mentally we're ready to play."
Hynes made a few small tweaks to the lineup as Nico Hischier will return after a two-game absence.
"We're going to go with Blackwood (in goal)," Hynes said, going with the same netminder who picked up a shutout last game.
Blackwood starting was in question for most of the week after he missed a few days of practice with the flu.
"I feel pretty good," Blackwood said. "It's a privilege and an honor anytime you can play three in a row. I want to go out there, play the same way I have."
On defense, the team is going with the same blueline.
"We're going to give (Butcher) a few more games here," Hynes noted.
Up front, Hischier is slotting in on a line with Pavel Zacha and Nikita Gusev. Tonight's lines:
"We feel like we've had two or three lines going every night, but we haven't had four lines going," said Hynes, talking about why he structured his lineup the way he did tonight. "And give Jack (Hughes) another chance to work with Hall and Kyle.
Jesper Bratt and Jesper Boqvist are the odd-men out up front.
Hischier was excited to be playing with Gusev and Zacha.
"Both are great players and I like playing with them," he said. "In practice you give the puck, you go in open space and you get the puck back. I think we've just gotta move the puck around and we'll be fine."
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (2-4-2) vs. COYOTES (5-3-1)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+
Tonight's game is the first of two meetings between the two teams this season.
Last season, the Devils won both games in a shootout. Connor Carrick and Miles Wood each had two assists to lead all Devils skaters with two points in head-to-head meetings with Arizona. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 31 of 32 shots for a .962 save percentage in 81 minutes of action against Arizona.
Devils team scope:
The Devils opened the season with six straight losses, including two shootout setbacks. They've held the lead in every home game so far this season but let four and three-goal leads evaporate against the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers respectively and also a late third-period lead against the Edmonton Oilers.
The club appears to be getting back on track with wins in their last two, over the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks but on the heels of those wins, have had a five-day break.
Coyotes team scope:
The Coyotes lost their first two games of the season and three of their first four but followed that up with four straight wins. Last night, the club dropped a 4-2 decision to the New York Islanders, however.
Nick Schmaltz leads the club in scoring with nine points in nine games while Clayton Keller has seven assists and Conor Garland has five goals and six points. Off-season acquisition Phil Kessel has two goals and five points so far.
By the Numbers:
The Devils are 4-0-0 at Prudential Center and 6-2-0 overall against the Coyotes since the 2015-16 season. The last time Arizona defeated New Jersey at The Rock was March 27, 2013 in a 3-2 shootout victory.
Arizona's one and only regulation win at Prudential Center was on December 15, 2007 by a score of 4-1. The Coyotes also won 3-1 on December 2, 2003. Those were the only two times that the Arizona Coyotes ever defeated the Devils in New Jersey in regulation. The last win prior to that for the Coyotes/Jets franchise was November 16, 1991 when the Jets won 3-1.
Devils - Nico Hischier is day-to-day; Will Butcher is day-to-day
Coyotes - Niklas Hjalmarsson (fractured fibula) is out; Jordan Oesterle (head) is out