The way the New Jersey Devils’ offense is struggling, not winning the Atlantic Division may be the least of their worries.
The Devils will try to avoid losing four straight for the first time this season when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
While New Jersey (44-26-7) moved into a tie with Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic on Friday, it failed to pick up a valuable second point at home, losing 2-1 in a shootout to Chicago.
It was the second straight game the Devils lost after regulation, and the third straight in which they scored either one goal or none. They’ve totaled 16 goals during a 2-2-4 stretch.
New Jersey, which trails Buffalo by one point for second in the Eastern Conference, plays its next three games on the road before a pair at home, including an April 11 matchup with the Sabres to conclude the regular season.
Despite the lack of offense, New Jersey was in line to pick up a win Friday before Martin Brodeur(notes) gave up a goal on a deflection with 26 seconds remaining in regulation. The Devils, who had led most of the game after Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) scored his 40th goal in the first period, failed to convert on three shootout attempts - one by Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk has been one of the few Devils providing consistent offense during the slump, with four goals in his last six games. Zach Parise(notes), meanwhile, hasn’t recorded a point in the last three contests and has gone without a goal in his last five.
Still, the Devils don’t appear to be panicking.
Virtually eliminated from playoff contention, the Hurricanes (33-35-10) failed to complete a perfect three-game road trip Thursday, falling 4-3 in a shootout at Ottawa after Manny Legace(notes) gave up the tying goal to Erik Karlsson(notes) with 7.7 seconds left.
“We should have had two points,” said Legace, who made 32 saves.
Blown leads have been a recurring problem for the Hurricanes, who have squandered third-period leads en route to overtime in three of their last six games.
Cam Ward(notes) could be back in net Saturday after getting the night off following consecutive road starts. Ward has lost at New Jersey twice this season but has played reasonably well, stopping 54 of 58 shots in those outings.
The Devils are 0-3-1 in Raleigh since a 4-1 victory Jan. 10, 2008.