The New Jersey Devils did a nice job of rebounding from an uninspired effort. The Winnipeg Jets are hoping to do the same.
New Jersey will try to cap off its four-game trip with a second consecutive victory Saturday when Winnipeg looks to regain its home-ice edge.
Outscored 4-0 in the opening 16:38 of a 6-3 loss to Calgary on Tuesday, the Devils (24-17-2) improved to 2-1-0 on their trip with a 2-1 overtime victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.
Zach Parise’s winner moved the club to 11-0-2 in games decided after regulation.
Seeking their fourth victory in five games, the Devils make their second and final visit to Winnipeg this season before opening a six-game homestand against the Jets on Tuesday.
In the teams’ first matchup at the MTS Centre, Winnipeg won 4-2 on Dec. 3 to snap a four-game skid in the series. It was New Jersey’s season-high fourth consecutive defeat.
The Jets (20-18-5), though, are the struggling team heading into this contest. They have dropped two in a row and four of five in January after recording the best month in franchise history in December at 10-3-1.
Winnipeg, which went 9-2-1 at home last month, is 10th in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets could use a spark from All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, but it’s uncertain when he’ll return to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a lower-body injury.
Byfuglien leads Winnipeg with three points – all assists – as these teams have split two meetings this season.
Devils center Adam Henrique, who scored twice and had the winner in a 3-2 overtime victory over the visiting Jets on Nov. 5, tops the club with three goals versus Winnipeg in 2011-12.
New Jersey has no All-Stars, but Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk are playing like they belong at the Jan. 29 game in Ottawa. Parise has two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak, while Kovalchuk has three consecutive multi-point games and five goals in the last four.
Kovalchuk, the Atlanta Thrashers’ all-time leader with 328 goals and 615 points, has four goals and two assists in a five-game point streak against his former team.
Johan Hedberg, who recorded 22 saves Wednesday, turned aside 16 shots last month against Winnipeg.
Martin Brodeur had 21 saves in the previous meeting and is 5-1-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average in his last six starts against the Jets franchise.
Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec has stopped 48 of 53 shots in this series in 2011-12.
Ilya Kovalchuk always has to prove something to his former team and finds ways to put up points against them. And with the Jets being able to put up points themselves fairly easily, you have no choice but to take the game total in this matchup.
OVER 5.5 (+120) (1 UNIT)
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