NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A tough loss to the New Jersey Devils one month ago marked the final defeat during a dismal stretch for the Anaheim Ducks.
They’ve been on quite a tear since.
Anaheim seeks a seventh straight victory while ending a four-game skid against host New Jersey on Friday night.
The Ducks (24-7-5) held a late lead over the Devils (14-15-6) on Nov. 20 before Jaromir Jagr scored with 1:01 remaining in the third period. Travis Zajac scored in overtime to give New Jersey a 4-3 win while sending Anaheim to a fifth straight defeat.
It has rebounded to go 9-1-2 since that loss, though, after extending its winning streak with Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over Detroit. Jagr knows the Devils will be facing a much different Ducks team than the last meeting.
“I think they’re one of the best teams,” Jagr said. “For me, (Ryan) Getzlaf is the MVP. It’s going to be a big challenge to play against him down low. It’s pretty tough.”
Getzlaf, who scored in last month’s meeting, had 10 goals and 13 assists while recording at least one point in the previous 16 games he played before going pointless against the Red Wings.
After allowing the first goal for the third time in four games, the Ducks responded with first-period goals from Jakob Silfverberg, Nick Bonino, Corey Perry and Sami Vatanen.
Saku Koivu added a goal in the second, and Jonas Hiller finished with 16 saves.
“We don’t worry too much about what’s going on, like ‘Are we down? Are we up? Who’s in? Who’s out?’ We try to play our game,” Hiller said. “We keep going and we’ve had a lot of times this season where we’ve scored the tying goal during the next shift. That definitely helps for our confidence, and makes it tough for the opponent to get something going.”
Silfverberg returned to the lineup after missing the previous 24 games with a broken right hand.
“I was a little nervous before the game. It was like the first game of the season,” he said. “You’re not sure what to expect, but as the game went on, I felt more comfortable.”
New Jersey is beginning to feel better as well having won two straight following a 1-4-1 stretch. Jagr scored his 693rd career goal in Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over Ottawa, moving into eighth place on the all-time NHL list while passing Gordie Howe for the most game-winning goals in history with 122.
“It’s an unbelievable feat, especially with the names on the list he’s around and passing,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s an unbelievable accomplishment.”
Jagr said his goal gave the team a feeling it hadn’t experienced in some time.
“We had a lead and I felt it’s the first time in a while that we had a game under control,” Jagr said.
The Devils haven’t lost to the Ducks since Jan. 11, 2009, with Martin Brodeur making 22 saves in last month’s win. He’s started the last two games ahead of Cory Schneider, who has started 15 games to Brodeur’s 20 despite having a 1.97 goals-against average compared to the 41-year-old’s 2.30 mark.
The Ducks likely will go with Hiller again. Hiller has won five straight starts and is 7-1-2 with a 2.04 GAA in 10 outings since making 21 saves in the loss to the Devils.
Updated December 19, 2013