NEWARK, NJ - After being on the road for five games, the New Jersey Devils are back on home ice tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
"It's a comfortable place for us. Being on the road forced us to simplify our game a bit," noted Taylor Hall.
Devils head coach John Hynes assessed the five-game trip and looked even further back, talking about how the team has played well in its last 10 with a record of 5-3-2 in that span.
"I think we played pretty solid. Really, the last 10 games, road trip included. And now it's our task to be able to come back here and get refocused and make sure that the things we've done well, we continue to do well in the areas that we wanted to get showing up in our game."
VATANEN STILL OUT
The Devils will have to continue their success without blueliner Sami Vatanen, who was injured in the game against the Oilers. Vatanen did not play on Sunday in Vancouver and instead it was Will Butcher who played 24:38 of icetime and Damon Severson had 23:21.
"With Sami out, you're not giving all those minutes to one player," stated Hynes.
The head coach was asked about the play of Will Butcher, who has moved onto the top defense pairing with P.K. Subban and top power play unit.
"He's moved the puck well. He's done a good job transitioning the puck. He's done a pretty good job on the power play where now he's getting an opportunity where he didn't earlier in the year. Defensively, he's a smart player."
Butcher said he tries to keep his game simple on the power play, giving the talent that's around him.
"I want to make plays, get the puck to Jack and Hallsy so they can do their thing."
TOUGH TEST TONIGHT
The Ottawa Senators are 1-6-1 on the road and dropped their last game by a score of 8-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes but that doesn't mean they'll be an easy game for the Devils tonight. Hall cautioned against that.
"Everyone has talked about how they're rebuilding over there. I know the coach, they work extremely hard," Hall said.
Coach Hynes had much the same commentary.
"They're well coached. They work extremely hard. Hardworking and competitiveness is their calling card. They're going to bring that either way, whether they come off a win or a loss. I thnk it's really understanding what your opponent's strengths are and what allows them to have success and what areas they're vulnerable in."
The Devils are expected to go with a similar lineup to the one they had in Vancouver:
Blackwood talked about the recent success he's had.
"I'm just trying to play the same way I do all the time. I'm starting to get some results. Nothing's really changed," he said.
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (5-7-4) at SENATORS (6-10-1)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG
Tonight's game is the first of three meetings between the two teams this season.
This is the only meeting in New Jersey. The two clubs will meet in Ottawa at the end of December and again at the end of January.
Last season, the Devils won two out of three games. Taylor Hall led the way with three goasl and five points in two contests. Mark Stone and Matt Duchene were Ottawa's leading point-getters against the Devils though both have since moved on from the Senators.
Devils team scope:
The Devils are coming off a stretch of five straight games on the road where they won three out of five (3-2-0). They now have six of their next nine at Prudential Center to close out the month of November.
The Devils are eight points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, held by Toronto, but they also hold three games in hand on the Maple Leafs. If they can make up those games, they'd be only two points out. The Devils have played the second-fewest number of games in the NHL at 16, with Tampa Bay at 15 being the fewest.
Taylor Hall continues to lead the Devils with 15 points in 16 games. Kyle Palmieri has six goals and 11 points to rank second on the team in points but first in goals.
Senators team scope:
The Senators started the season 2-7-1 but have since been on more of a pattern of win one, lose one and have been 4-3-0 since that start. They won a pair of games against the Kings and Hurricanes recently before losing to those same Hurricanes 8-2 their last time out.
J-G Pageau and Connor Brown each have 12 points to lead the Sens. Pageau leads the club in goals with eight. Brady Tkachuk and Vladislav Namestnikov each have six markers to tie for second on the team in that category.
Goaltender Anders Nilsson has been very good for the Sens with a 2.98 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. He was recently named NHL's first star of the week after going 3-0-0 with a 1.64 GAA and .950 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
Both the Devils and Senators haven't had the greatest success in games where they've scored the first goal this season. The Devils have three wins in 10 games in such scenarios (3-2-5) while the Senators are 4-4-0.
The first period is the best period for both the Devils and Senators. The Devils have scored 16 goals and allowed only 13 in the opening frame while the Sens have scored 16 and allowed 14. In the second period, the Devils have scored 16 but allowed 23 and Ottawa has scored 15 and allowed 24. In the third, the Devils have scored only nine and allowed 23 while the Senators have scored 15 and allowed 20.
Ottawa's power play is ranked 31st in the NHL at 6.6%. New Jersey's penalty kill is 27th in the NHL at 73.7% but on home ice it's ranked 9th at 86.2%.
Devils -Connor Carrick (upper body) is out; Sami Vatanen (undisclosed) is questionable
Senators - Marian Gaborik (back) is on IR; Christian Wolanin (torn labrum) is on IR; Ryan Callahan (back) is on IR; Clarke MacArthur (concussion) is on IR; Scott Sabourin (fractured nose, concussion) is on IR; Logan Brown (upper body) is on IR; Artem Anisimov (groin) is on IR; Jonathan Davidson (lower body) is day-to-day