The New Jersey Devils’ power play has been struggling for quite some time, although they believe it’s going to turn around soon.
The Devils will try to end a streak of six straight games without a power-play goal when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Prudential Center for the first time Tuesday night.
New Jersey (42-25-4) is trying to catch Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, and it would help if it had better play with the man advantage. The Devils are 0 for 17 in their last six games and have the league’s worst percentage since Jan. 8 at 10.3 percent (9 for 87).
That lack of production contributed to the end of New Jersey’s five-game home win streak in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to St. Louis. The Devils went 0 for 3 on the power play, but insisted they were getting closer to scoring after registering seven shots in six minutes.
Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) has gone four games without a goal, leaving him with only five in 16 games with the Devils. One of his 11 power-play goals has been scored with New Jersey, which acquired the five-time 40-goal scorer Feb. 4 from Atlanta.
“It’s been almost for the last four games,” Kovalchuk said. “I have to put that in.”
Center Travis Zajac(notes) has gone 15 games without a power-play goal while Rolston has come up empty in all nine games since the Olympic break. They are tied with six apiece for second on the team behind Zach Parise(notes), who has eight.
New Jersey may have a hard time getting untracked against Columbus (29-31-12), which has killed off 21 of opponents’ last 23 power-play chances and 10 straight. The Devils are 6-9-1 against Western Conference opponents, and are facing the Blue Jackets for the first time since a 2-1 road win Jan. 16, 2009.
“Steve Mason, for me, was fabulous,” interim coach Claude Noel said. “He saved us.”
Mason should be in for another challenge after facing Rinne - with three shutouts in his last six games - if Martin Brodeur(notes) starts Tuesday. This would be the first matchup between Mason and the player he grew up idolizing in Brodeur since Kevin Weekes(notes) started last season’s game at Columbus for New Jersey.
It’s been a difficult season for Mason, who won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2008-09 by going 33-20-7 with a 2.29 goals-against average. Mason is 17-22-8 with a 3.12 GAA this season.
New Jersey leads the all-time series 5-2-1 with one tie, with Brodeur starting the first eight games and posting a 2.34 GAA.