Home-ice advantage could be key if the New Jersey Devils want to go deep into the playoffs. It’s already keeping them in the race for their fourth Atlantic Division title in five seasons.
After falling on the road again, the Devils look to match their season-high home winning streak at six when they face the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
New Jersey (42-24-4) owns the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference at 24-9-1. It continued its strong play at the Prudential Center with a 5-2 win over Atlantic-leading Pittsburgh on Wednesday, sweeping the six-game season series.
The Devils, however, lost 2-1 in a shootout at last-place Toronto the next night to fall for the 13th time in 15 road games.
They’ll now try to match their longest home winning streak of the season after posting six-game runs Nov. 4-28 and Dec. 12-Jan. 5.
New Jersey is one point behind Pittsburgh in the division race, with the Penguins hosting Carolina earlier Saturday.
The Devils could use some production from their power play, which has come up empty on 14 chances over five games.
“We don’t build any confidence with our power play,” coach Jacques Lemaire told the team’s official Web site. “When it’s time to skate, they don’t skate. They shoot the puck in, nobody goes and gets the puck.”
Things might not be any easier against the Blues (33-28-9), who are among the league leaders in penalty-kill percentage at 85.7.
Zach Parise(notes) has 11 goals and eight assists in the last 14 home games, helping the Devils to 11 victories. The left wing, who leads the team with 33 goals and 70 points, scored twice in a 4-3 road win over the Blues on Dec. 30, 2008.
New Jersey has won six of the past seven meetings with St. Louis, falling 3-2 in the most recent matchup at home Jan. 10, 2007.
The Blues used a season-ending 9-1-1 run to finish sixth in the West in 2008-09, and they may need a similar spurt to break away from five other teams vying for the conference’s last playoff spot.
St. Louis has won eight of 11 overall, beating the New York Rangers 4-3 on Thursday for its seventh victory in 10 road games.
Alex Steen(notes), second on the team with 20 goals, has been a big reason for St. Louis’ surge, getting five goals and six assists in eight games. The center has five goals and eight assists over the last 10 on the road after posting two and seven, respectively, in the first 21.
Steen has a goal in each of his last two meetings with the Devils.