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Devils put winning ‘belief’ up against Jets

Sportsnaut
Feb 24, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) skates up ice with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) skates up ice with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils will bid for their third three-game winning streak of the season on Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Jets at Newark, N.J.

The Devils kicked off their four-game homestand with a 3-2 overtime victory versus the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. They erupted for five unanswered goals two nights later in a spirited win against the Colorado Avalanche.

“It was a great win obviously,” the Devils’ Tomas Tatar said following Tuesday’s 5-3 victory. “We are trying to create here a winning mentality and these kind of games give it to you.”

New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff credited his team’s resolve Tuesday after recording his 776th victory to move past Paul Maurice for sixth place all time in NHL history.

“When you look at it, we’ve played in a lot of games like this where you get down and we battled back but don’t quite make it all the way back or win the game,” Ruff said. “There was just a belief that we were going to come back.”

Jack Hughes carries a 12-game home point streak (eight goals, 12 assists) into Thursday’s game. He notched a pair of assists for the second consecutive contest on Tuesday to boost his point total to 18 (six goals, 12 assists) in his past 11 games overall.

Hughes scored as part of four consecutive goals by the Devils in their first game against Winnipeg on Dec. 3. The Jets, however, countered with five straight of their own to finish off the 8-4 victory.

Mark Scheifele collected three goals and an assist in that game, and had one goal with three assists in Winnipeg’s 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

“We have guys in the right spots,” Scheifele said. “We’ve found some consistency being in the right spots. Our D was moving really well (on Tuesday). That opens up seams, that opens up other guys and gets them on the run, so I liked that part of it. I think we have to see more of that.”

Captain Blake Wheeler had three assists in the first meeting with New Jersey. He has added five of his club-best 33 assists in his past four games.

Paul Stastny scored twice on Tuesday to boost his point total to seven (five goals, two assists) in his past five games. Winnipeg has scored 24 goals while posting a 3-1-1 record in that stretch.

Now, the Jets begin a run of three games in four nights on Thursday.

“We talked about how we’d have to play the rest of the way home to give ourselves a chance,” Winnipeg interim coach Dave Lowry said. “We were going to have to play direct, we were going to have to play in straight lines. And we did that. We stayed with it.”

Workhorse goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has yielded four goals in four straight contests. The former Vezina Trophy recipient also yielded four goals in the previous encounter versus New Jersey, however he may sit in favor of Eric Comrie with the Jets in line to play again on Friday against the New York Islanders.

Devils rookie Nico Daws has turned aside 171 of 186 shots over his past six games (4-2-0).

–Field Level Media