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Devils look for rare win against Blue Jackets

New Jersey has lost all three games to Columbus this season

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

DEVILS (34-20-7) at BLUE JACKETS (28-34-8)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; MSG+ 2, FS-O, NHL.TV

COLUMBUS -- The New Jersey Devils need points to remain in the Stanley Cup Playoff race and will play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday, a team they haven't had success against this season.

Columbus has won five straight games against the Devils, including three this season.

"The feeling in our locker room is we haven't given them our best game," Devils leading scorer Kyle Palmieri said. "When we look back at the three games we made some mistakes and didn't play to our identity."

The Devils and the Blue Jackets will play a home-on-home on consecutive days, playing at Prudential Center on Sunday.

"It kind of feels like a mini-playoff series," Palmieri said. "You want to establish yourself early in the first game and hope that momentum carries through."

New Jersey coach John Hynes said Columbus causes problems with their heavy game.

"They've manhandled us at both net fronts," he said. "We've got play a strong structure, which we normally do, and bring a good game that way and we've got to work at both net fronts."

The Devils did not have right wing Devante Smith-Pelly when they last played the Blue Jackets. He has six goals and three assists in his first seven games since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 29.

"He has some physicality. He's a big strong body. He uses it," Hynes said. "He's strong on the puck. He's very good in and around the net. That's something we need him to be tonight."

Columbus recalled rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis because Curtis McElhinney, who missed 17 games from Jan. 5 to Feb. 13 with an ankle injury, sustained a knee injury during practice and will be out for the rest of the season. The Blue Jackets last game of the regular season is April 9.

The Blue Jackets have lost three straight, including a 3-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday that coach John Tortorella said felt like the players knew they won't be competing in the playoffs next month.

"We played like we were out of it," said Tortorella, who will coach the 1,000th game of his NHL career. "That's the first time I've seen our team play that way. We lost a little bit of juice.

"From the beginning of the game to the end we didn't play with enough emotion. That's the road we can't go down. We have a dozen games left. We have to handle it the right way."

Here are the projected lineups:


Tyler Kennedy - Adam Henrique - Devante Smith-Pelly

Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi - Sergey Kalinin - Mike Sislo

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Tuomo Ruutu

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Jon Merrill

Seth Helgeson - Damon Severson

Keith Kinkaid

Yann Danis

Injured: Patrik Elias (right knee), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist), Michael Cammalleri (right hand), Cory Schneider (right knee), Jordin Tootoo (upper body), Jacob Josefson (hand), David Schlemko (upper body)

Scratched: David Warsofsky, Brian O'Neill


Scott Hartnell - Brandon Dubinsky - Nick Foligno

Brandon Saad - Boone Jenner - Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand

William Karlsson - Michael Chaput - Gregory Campbell

David Savard - Seth Jones

Ryan Murray - Cody Goloubef

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Rene Bourque, Jared Boll, Justin Falk

Injured: Jack Johnson (shoulder), David Clarkson (back). Curtis McElhinney (knee)

Status report: Helgeson and Merrill will replace Schlemko and Warsofsky. Sislo (illness) will be a game-time decision. If he can't play, O'Neill will draw in. ... Prout returns from a one-game suspension for punching Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.

Who's hot: Smith-Pelly has four goals and two assists in four games. ... Kennedy has a goal and four assists in three games.

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