The New Jersey Devils will look for their fourth straight win when they host the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Devils are rolling behind goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and an offense that is averaging 39 shots per game.
“We want to build our game all around our speed,” said Dawson Mercer, who scored one of the goals in a 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. “That’s to our advantage … flying around out there and creating those opportunities. We never got away from our game, and I think that paid off in the end.”
Yegor Sharangovich also scored for the Devils. Mercer’s goal was New Jersey’s first power-play tally since opening night and gave the second-year forward two goals and one assist in five games.
“I think his wall play, his battles around the net, behind the net, have increased and he’s creating on his own,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “On his goal, he stayed with it, found a tight hole in front of the net. It was a great play for him to find his own rebound.”
Jesper Bratt extended his assist streak to five games and became the first Devils player since Will Butcher (2017-18) to have eight assists through the opening five games of a season.
After allowing four goals on 24 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 13, Blackwood has allowed four goals on 59 shots in the past three games.
While having trouble on their own power play, the Devils penalty killers remain stingy. New Jersey is now 14-for-15 (93.3 percent) on the kill.
As for the Capitals, they continue to live dangerously. They have won two of their past three games, both times rallying from a two-goal third-period deficit.
Saturday night they trailed the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 after two periods, scored three straight goals, and then allowed the tying goal before winning 4-3. They outshot the Kings 17-10 in the third period.
Washington is one of the older teams in the league, and several players said that their experience helps when they find themselves trailing early.
“Experience is always a good thing. We got guys that can play all situations — and a lot of guys that can play all situations,” said Marcus Johansson, who scored the game-winner on a wrap-around. “We’re missing some key pieces right now in our team and we still have guys that can go out there and pick up some big minutes.”
The Capitals are missing four forwards. Against the Kings, fourth-line center Nic Dowd got Washington on the board, and third-line center Lars Eller and defenseman John Carlson also tallied. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov had three assists.
“Usually they or I, or we both together have a good idea when we don’t play well. It didn’t feel like it was 2-0 and so we just stayed with it,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “The big thing was putting more pucks to the net, trying to generate more chances, whether it be the first chance or the second chance, third chance.”
–Field Level Media