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Flames aim to deny Devils their first win

by Brian Hunter /

DEVILS (0-1-3) at FLAMES (2-0-2)


Season series: It's the first of two meetings between the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames this season. In their most recent matchup, on Jan. 11, 2012, at Scotiabank Saddledome, a four-goal first period powered the Flames to a 6-3 victory.

Big story: While the Devils try to avoid setting a team record by losing five in a row to begin the season, the Flames will attempt to make it five straight without a regulation loss. It's an encouraging start for a franchise that comes off a 13th-place finish in the Western Conference and wasn't projected to do a whole lot better this season.

Team Scope:

Devils: In their past three games, New Jersey has held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against the New York Islanders, 3-0 against the Edmonton Oilers and 2-0 against the Vancouver Canucks, and haven't won any of them. The Devils got single points each time, losing twice in shootouts and most recently 3-2 in overtime to the Canucks on Tuesday. A win would go a long way toward helping the team's morale.

"It's tough to judge anything after four games," forward Jaromir Jagr said in Tom Gulitti's Fire & Ice blog. "I would say in some areas we are very good. In some areas, we are bad. So, we have to keep doing the things we're doing well and get better at the things we don't do well or somehow try to do all the things good for 60 minutes. We have not been able to do it.

"[Monday] we did it good for 50 minutes and it costs us a point and then [Tuesday] the same thing."

Flames: One of the main reasons the prognostications for Calgary were so dire was because the winningest goaltender in franchise history, Miikka Kiprusoff, retired. In his stead, the Flames have veteran journeyman Joey MacDonald as well as Karri Ramo, who spent the past few years in the Kontinental Hockey League.

MacDonald has started three of the Flames' first four games; he turned in his best performance of the season Wednesday with 33 saves as Calgary beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Rookie Sean Monahan supported him with a goal and an assist.

"It's a learning experience, seeing games out," MacDonald told the Calgary Herald. "To win games like this against great teams like that, to win those close ones when you've got to hang and gut it out, to find a way, means a lot. That's how you develop. How you get better."

Who's hot: Jagr and Patrik Elias have goals in consecutive games for the Devils. … Monahan, the sixth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has goals in three straight for the Flames and points in all four games (3-2-5) to begin his career. Jiri Hudler (2-3-5) also has a four-game point streak.

Injury report: The Devils will be without forward Ryan Carter, who left practice early with what was called "upper-body soreness." He's day-to-day, according to coach Peter DeBoer. Jacob Josefson will make his season debut. ... Calgary forward David Jones (upper body) left Wednesday's game and did not return. He is day-to-day. Forwards Mike Cammalleri (hand) and Matt Stajan (leg) are out.

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