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Mar 22, 2024 4:25 pm

Devils, focused on playoffs goal, host Senators

jack hughes

The New Jersey Devils will look to build off recent performances and stay in the mix for a playoff spot when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

The Devils (34-32-4, 72 points) have won two straight after a 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and a 5-2 triumph against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. In each outing, New Jersey delivered a complete and consistent effort to skate away with the two points.

Now they’ll head into Saturday’s tilt looking to do something they haven’t done in nearly three months — win three in a row. Their last such streak came Dec. 23-29, only the fourth time they’d done so this season.

“Consistency is a big part of the NHL,” interim coach Travis Green said. “At the end of the day, being able to be a top team in the league or have success in the league, you have to be consistent with your game. We haven’t done that enough this year. … Being aware at this time of the year, 60 minutes is vital, playing the right way for 60 minutes. Not letting your guard down. If you do, it’s going to strike you.”

The power play has helped in the last two games, with the Devils going 5-for-7 after an 0-for-12 drought in the previous five games.

“We’re snapping the puck a little bit more, a little quicker, shooting more pucks, and recovering more pucks on the power play,” forward Jack Hughes said. “It’s much cleaner and crisper.”

The Devils are six points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, with the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders lodged between them.

Timo Meier had a goal and two assists against the Jets to add to what has been a hot March for the 27-year-old. He has 11 goals in 11 games, including three in the past two games, and has been blanked in consecutive games only once in that stretch.

The Senators (28-36-4, 60), long out of the playoff mix, are looking to focus on the positives as they finish the final stretch of the season.

Ottawa has lost three in a row, most recently a 5-2 defeat to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. They’ve been outscored 18-6 during the current streak, allowing at least five goals in each. They’ve lost 10 of their past 13 games (3-9-1) and have given up at least four goals in eight of those contests.

“I think it’s important that you look at each game as an entity,” interim coach Jacques Martin said. “(Saturday) night’s a new game. We’re playing a team that’s battling for their life. So, it’s not going to be easy, but we have to bring the same kind of determination. … What we control is the effort, the attention to details and determination. And that’s what we have to bring every night.”

The Senators’ penalty kill, which ranks 31st in the NHL at 73 percent, held off both St. Louis power plays on Thursday. That snapped a stretch in which they had allowed five goals on 11 opposing power plays in their previous four games.

Claude Giroux has three points, all assists, in a three-game point streak and five points (one goal, four assists), in his past six but just one goal in his past 18 games.

–Field Level Media

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