|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, February 19, 2019
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey Attendance: 15,824
Devils looking to play spoiler vs. Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils
- The Devils have won all three meetings in 2018-19 by an aggregate score of 15-6. Should the Devils win in regulation on Tuesday, it would mark just the second time ever that Pittsburgh has failed to earn a point in the season series with the Scouts/Rockies/Devils; in 2009-10, the Pens went 0-6-0 versus Jersey.
- The Penguins are 4-4-1 in February, with 30 goals scored and 30 goals allowed. Pittsburgh is one of three teams (also Chicago and Ottawa) to score and allow 30-plus goals this month.
- New Jersey won on both Friday and Sunday; the Devils have not enjoyed a three-game winning streak since their final three games of December. They seek their first three-game home winning streak since October, when they opened the season 4-0-0 at home (including a "home" game in Sweden).
- After sitting out a one-game suspension, Evgeni Malkin scored two goals in both Penguins games over the weekend. Malkin has had only one streak of three straight multi-goal games in his career, in January-February 2018 (three straight games, totaling seven goals).
- Travis Zajac, who has skated in 899 NHL games entering Tuesday's action, has three goals and seven points in three games versus Pittsburgh this season. This is the most points by any player against the Penguins in 2018-19.
- Both Pittsburgh and New Jersey have allowed five or more goals 18 times this season, tied for second most in the league (excluding "team goals" for shootout wins). The Senators (20 times) are the only other team to allow five-plus goals as many as 18 times in 2018-19.
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The New Jersey Devils have spent most of this season as one of the NHL's few non-playoff contenders. But now they're at least attempting to ensure some other teams share their misery.
The Devils will look to continue playing spoiler Tuesday night, when they host the suddenly desperate Pittsburgh Penguins in Newark, N.J.
Both teams were off Monday after earning wins Sunday, when the Devils beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres 4-1, and the host Penguins edged the New York Rangers, 6-5.
The Devils' victory was their second straight and marked the first time they've won consecutive games since Jan. 12-14. The winning streak is just the third for New Jersey since it opened the season by winning the first four games. Only one of those streaks was longer than two games (a three-game run from Dec. 27-31).
With this current run, the Devils (23-28-8, 54 points), who will enter Tuesday tied for the second-fewest points in the Eastern Conference, are doing their best to impact the playoff race.
New Jersey lost the first two games of a Western Conference road trip, but capped the swing Friday by coming back from a three-goal deficit late in the second period to stun the Minnesota Wild, 5-4, in overtime. The loss was a major blow to Minnesota as it competes for a wild-card spot in the West.
On Sunday, the Devils made the path to the playoffs tougher for the Sabres, whose loss coupled with the Penguins' win left Buffalo six points behind Pittsburgh in the race for the last wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
"We needed to have a strong focus coming off the road trip, coming off the win," Devils head coach John Hynes said following the win over the Sabres. "We have a word, we call (it) 'self-starters' in our room. And this is one of those games where you need it. And we had it."
Focus shouldn't be a problem for the Penguins, the perennial Stanley Cup contenders who are fighting just to get into the playoffs. Pittsburgh (31-21-7, 69 points), which has made the playoffs in 12 straight seasons -- the longest active streak in the NHL -- moved back into the last wild-card spot Sunday, one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, by beating the Rangers.
Even beginning Sunday afternoon on the outside looking in was a rare position to be in for the Penguins, who hadn't ranked lower than eighth in the Eastern Conference this late in a season since 2008-09, a campaign that ended with Pittsburgh winning the first of its three Stanley Cups in the Sidney Crosby era.
"Every point matters, and that's going to make us better in the long run," Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin told reporters following the victory over the Rangers. "If we keep chipping away and ... really (keep) bearing down and playing well, it will be beneficial come playoff time. We've just got to embrace the race."
New Jersey took the first three meetings of the season from Pittsburgh by a combined score of 15-6, including road victories of 5-1 and 6-3, the latter coming on Jan. 28.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 18, 2019