JETS (5-6-1) at DEVILS (5-5-1)
TV: CBC, MSG PLUS 2
Winnipeg 5-4-1; New Jersey 5-4-1
This is the first of four meetings between the teams. The Devils won three of the four matchups last season when the Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers, including a 4-2 triumph in the season finale at Prudential Center on March 15. In that game, the Devils rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four unanswered goals by Travis Zajac
, Patrik Elias
, Jacob Josefson
and Ilya Kovalchuk
With Zajac (Achilles tendon) and Josefson (broken clavicle) already sidelined by injuries, the Devils received even more bad news in a victory over the Flyers on Thursday. Before the game even started, defenseman Andy Greene
was ruled out with a lower-body injury. Then in the third period, Kovalchuk pulled a leg muscle and limped off the ice. Additionally, goalie Johan Hedberg
, who has been between the pipes for all five New Jersey wins this season, suffered a back injury. Expect Martin Brodeur
to get the nod in net against the Jets.
"Something popped in my back in the middle of the third," Hedberg said. "The good thing was my crouch was the position that felt the best. That was the best position to stay in. So, it should be fine (Friday). Right now, I'm a little stiff."
The Jets dressed two call-up defensemen from their American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps (Brett Festerling
and Mark Flood
) and lost a regular blueliner (Randy Jones
) in the third period, but still earned their first shutout of the season, 3-0, over the New York Islanders on Thursday. Ondrej Pavelec
notched his first shutout of the season and the seventh of his career on 34 saves. Evander Kane
, former Devil Johnny Oduya
and Alexander Burmistrov
scored the goals for Winnipeg.
Despite the injuries, the Devils open their first of three straight on home ice following an impressive road shootout victory over the Flyers, 4-3. The Devils had won only twice in their last 12 visits to Philadelphia before Thursday. After falling behind, 2-0, captain Zach Parise
and rookie Adam Henrique
pulled the Devils even on goals 2:58 apart midway through the second. Philadelphia's Maxime Talbot converted a penalty shot 2:37 into the third before David Clarkson
's backhander at 13:25 knotted the score once again. In the shootout, Parise and Patrik Elias
scored while Hedberg denied Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux. The victory now gives Hedberg a career record of 21-7 in shootouts. The Devils outshot the Flyers, 39-23.
Kane has 5 goals, 8 points and a plus-2 rating in his last six games for Winnipeg. He notched a "Gordie Howe hat trick" against the Islanders with a goal, assist and scrap with defenseman Travis Hamonic.
Devils forward Eric Boulton
could be ready to play again after missing the last five games with a sore hand. Zajac and Josefson are out; Kovalchuk, Greene and Hedberg are all day-to-day. … Jets defensemen Tobias Enstrom
(upper body) and Ron Hainsey
(upper body), forward Eric Fehr
(shoulder) and backup goalie Chris Mason
(groin) are out. Defenders Mark Stuart
(upper body) and Randy Jones
(right foot) are questionable.
Brodeur returned to action on Wednesday in a loss to the Maple Leafs after missing six games with a shoulder injury. He allowed five goals on 23 shots and tied Curtis Joseph and Gump Worsley for most career losses (352) by a goaltender. Keep in mind, Brodeur also holds NHL records for career games played (1,135), wins (625) and shutouts (116). Brodeur was taken off injured reserve and practiced with the team on Monday, reporting no pain in the right shoulder he bruised against Los Angeles on Oct. 13.
"Each and every team in this league is trying to get stronger in their own mind," Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters. "But at the end of the day, you spend more time worrying about yourself and worrying about your own individual team and them getting better. That's the formula for success, rather than trying to say we need this or we need that."