In retrospect, a sloppy loss in Pittsburgh last weekend was a wakeup call for the Devils.
Now, with home-and-home meetings with the Penguins this weekend, they will find out precisely where they stand in the Eastern Conference race.
“We know what they’re about,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the Penguins. “They gave us a pretty good lesson in Pittsburgh last week, so we have to take a deep breath here and try to refuel and get ready because it’s four big points with a division rival. We need to play better than we did last time.”
The turnaround, including a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at Prudential Center in which Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal in seven games, can be credited to special teams.
The Devils have killed off 19 straight power plays in the last four games while their own PP is 4-for-11 on their current three-game winning streak.
“Coming off Pittsburgh last week going to New York we knew we had to turn things around and we did. We killed off seven (Islanders power plays on Sunday) in a row,” center Adam Henrique said. “That’s a huge part of our game. It was last year, and it has to be this year. The confidence is there for the PK.”
It was a 1-1 game late in the second period when the Devils received a bench minor for abuse of officials.
“It wasn’t me,” DeBoer pleaded. “I would take credit for it if it was me.”
After blocking a Sami Salo shot from the point, Kovalchuk led a 2-on-1 rush with Travis Zajac to his right. He fired a shot inside the far right post at 17:34 for a 2-0 Devils lead.
Devils top Lightning, 4-2, for third straight win
Newark Star-Ledger | Feb 8