The Edmonton Oilers visit New Jersey to face the Devils this evening for their final contest before the Olympic hiatus.
The Oilers are coming into the contest following a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden. Ben Scrivens was excellent with 35 saves and Nail Yakupov netted the game-winner with 1:38 to go in regulation.
Scrivens helped Edmonton move to 5-1-0 in its last six games, stoning Ryan Callahan on a short-handed breakaway just past the midway mark of the second before posting another 12 stops in the final frame.
"I think that was our top game of the season," said Yakupov. "Not too many turnovers and our goalie played an awesome game."
Ryan Smyth scored Edmonton's first tally and the go-ahead goal came after Taylor Hall won a battle for the puck behind the New York net. He sent it out to Sam Gagner, whose centering pass from the left corner was rocketed by a charging Yakupov.
"It was one of those games where we had to scratch and claw for everything we got," Hall remarked. "Sometimes those games are a lot more fun than the 8-2 wins or the wins where you're ahead off the bat."
Scrivens improved to 3-3-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .948 save percentage since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, but Ilya Bryzgalov could still start tonight's game for the Oilers.
Bryzgalov is 5-5-0 with a 2.09 GAA, .919 save percentage and two shutouts in his career versus the Devils.
Edmonton moved to 10-19-4 as the visiting team this season and wraps a four- game road trip tonight. The Oilers play their first five at home following the Olympic break.
The Oilers posted a 5-4 shootout win over the visiting Devils back on Oct. 7, snapping a two-game series losing streak. They are 3-0-2 in the past five encounters overall, but have lost three of the last four in New Jersey.
The Devils have allowed a game-tying goal in the final two minutes of their past three games, going 1-0-2 as each contest went to overtime. They recovered to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Jan. 30, but lost a 3-2 decision in Nashville the following night before again getting burned in a 2-1 setback versus the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
Ryan Carter scored an early goal for New Jersey, but Colorado picked up a game-tying goal with 1:47 to go in regulation as P.A. Parenteau tipped home a Tyson Barrie shot from the point.
New Jersey's Andy Greene then took a slashing penalty with 42 ticks left in regulation and the Avalanche cashed in 28 seconds into overtime on another deflection goal.
"Tonight, the story is we have to find a way to get the second and third goal," noted Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. "We got one goal out of our fourth line and enough chances to get five. If you let anybody hang around in this league long enough, bad things will happen and that's the story lately."
Cory Schneider made 23 saves in his fourth straight start as the Devils fell to 1-2-2 in their past five games. They sit five points back of Detroit for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Schneider will get the start again tonight and ranks second in the NHL with a 1.91 goals against average. He is 4-2-0 lifetime versus the Oilers with a 1.98 GAA.
Martin Brodeur is likely to start Saturday's contest in Washington before the start of the Olympic break for the Devils.