The Detroit Red Wings didn’t let a rare three-game slide get any worse their last time out, toppling a division leader to get back in the win column.
The New Jersey Devils are worried there’s no coming back from a two-month stretch they can’t forget fast enough.
The Red Wings try to start a new winning streak Saturday night at the Prudential Center against the Devils, losers of a season-high four straight.
The NHL’s two longest postseason streaks belong to Detroit (18-6-3) and New Jersey (8-18-2), but while the Red Wings don’t figure to have any problem making it 20 straight trips to the playoffs, the Devils’ run of 13 in a row appears to be in serious jeopardy.
New Jersey had hoped getting Martin Brodeur(notes) back from an elbow injury would be enough to stop its latest skid, but that wasn’t the case Friday. Brodeur made 29 saves in his first start since Nov. 17, but the Devils fell 3-2.
With 18 points through 28 games, New Jersey is 15 points out of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
“It’s not looking good,” center Jason Arnott(notes) said. “We’re getting further and further away from that No. 8 spot. It’s getting near impossible. If we don’t put a string of wins together here by Christmastime we’re going to find ourselves going home early.”
A loss Saturday could give the Devils their first five-game regulation slide since a six-game skid Nov. 2-14, 2000.
The Red Wings hadn’t lost consecutive games in regulation all season prior to the 0-2-1 stretch they took into Friday night’s visit from Montreal. Pavel Datsyuk(notes) and Jimmy Howard(notes) made sure the rough patch wouldn’t continue.
“It’s a pride thing. It doesn’t matter who is a the other end, I don’t want to lose. I want to play my best,” Howard said. “I don’t think it has anything to do if it’s the (Columbus Blue Jackets’) Steve Mason(notes) or Carey Price. I pride myself being the best every single day.”
Osgood has won 398 regular-season games - 10th all-time - but he’s never been victorious in New Jersey. The three-time Stanley Cup winner is 0-6-1 with a tie and a 3.08 goals-against average in eight road starts against the Devils.
New Jersey coach John MacLean wouldn’t say whether he’d let Brodeur, 8-7-0 with a tie and a 2.11 GAA in the regular season versus Detroit, start back-to-back games this soon after returning.
MacLean has bigger problems than deciding whether to start Brodeur or Johan Hedberg(notes). The Devils are averaging 1.79 goals, which has them on pace to be the league’s most anemic offense since Montreal averaged 1.71 in 1935-36.
Datsyuk is making sure Detroit has no similar offensive issues. The Russian winger has three goals and eight assists in his last seven games.
The Red Wings are 7-1-1 when Datsyuk scores a goal.