Zach Parise(notes) doesn’t care where the New Jersey Devils play as they try to reverse a tailspin that has dropped them out of the Atlantic Division lead. Returning home for the first time in nearly a month might help.
Fresh off a defeat to the worst team in the NHL, the Devils will try to rebound Wednesday night when they host the New York Rangers.
New Jersey (38-23-3) built an eight-point advantage on Pittsburgh in the division and led the Eastern Conference after beating the Rangers 1-0 in a shootout Jan. 12. However, the Devils have since gone 6-12-2, dropping five points back of the first-place Penguins and 18 behind conference-leading Washington.
The dismal stretch features a 2-10-1 road record, capped by Sunday’s 2-0 loss to league-worst Edmonton as New Jersey was outshot 35-22.
“Right now it’s at the point where it shouldn’t matter where we’re playing,” Parise told the team’s official Web site. “We have to manufacture some wins, doesn’t matter if we’re in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.”
The Devils, who host Pittsburgh on Friday, are in position to finish the last month of the regular season in strong fashion, playing all 18 of their remaining games in the Eastern time zone with 11 at the Prudential Center.
They’ve split their last eight at home and are 20-9-1 there this season. New Jersey hasn’t played in Newark since a 5-2 win over Nashville on Feb. 12.
“We have to start to really think about the consequences of not getting back to playing good hockey,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “You can’t even think of going into the playoffs playing this way. You can’t even think of it, not for a second.”
Parise, the team leader with 30 goals and 65 points, had two goals and two assists in the first three games after the Olympic break but was held off the scoresheet Sunday. The left wing helped the United States win the silver medal in Vancouver.
“The last game in Edmonton I was really tired,” Parise said. “Just all the traveling, a lot of hockey.”
Parise has been held without a point in the last two meetings with New York (29-28-9) after accumulating six goals and nine assists in the previous eight.
The Devils have split four meetings with the Rangers, losing 3-1 on the road in the most recent matchup Feb. 6.
The Rangers, who are outside the top eight in the East, are looking to snap a three-game slide after falling 2-1 in overtime to Buffalo on Sunday. That came a night after they lost 2-0 at Washington, getting shut out for the sixth time to rank among the most in the NHL.
New York is also toward the bottom of the league with 170 goals.
“We have to step up the game. That’s just the bottom line,” said Marian Gaborik(notes), who leads New York with 35 goals and 69 points but has none in two games since returning from leg and groin injuries.
Lundqvist is 3-1-1 with a 1.19 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last five starts against the Devils, making 41 saves in the previous meeting.