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Predators, Devils ride momentum into matchup

Feb 12, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils executed a near-perfect outing Monday to end their slide.

Now, the onus is on the playoff-position-chasing Devils to deliver a repeat performance one night later when they hit the road to face the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

The Devils snapped a two-game slide with a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Monday, a victory that leaves them four points out of a playoff position. They need more of the same during a quick trip to Music City before returning home to face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

“It’s an encouraging win for sure,” Devils center Jack Hughes said. “It’s really nice playing with the lead. That was big.”

The Devils have a 10-3-2 record when scoring first, something that has not happened often enough this season.

That was not the only reason for their win Monday. On top of jumping out to a 3-0 advantage in the second period, New Jersey scored a power-play goal after failing to convert on the man advantage in eight previous games, when they were 0-for-22.

“We talked about doing something like that a couple games ago,” forward Tyler Toffoli said of his power-play tally in the first period. “The way it worked out in this game, it worked out perfect.”

With No. 1 goaltender Vitek Vanecek battling a cold and lower-body injury, Nico Daws saw his first action since Jan. 25. It remains to be seen whether Daws takes the net one night after a 27-save performance or if Akira Schmid will get a shot.

The Predators are also looking to build off a much-needed victory after they returned from the All-Star break and bye week with a 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Nashville, which snapped a three-game losing streak, is two points out of one of the Western Conference’s wild-card positions.

The Predators trailed 4-2 five minutes into the third period but drew up a comeback thanks to goals by Tommy Novak and Filip Forsberg, then capped it with Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner.

“(We were) stepping up, making some big hits, taking away time and space,” said McDonagh, who scored his third career overtime goal. “We’ve talked about it coming out of the break here. That’s got to be one of our identities — no time and space for teams. We can skate with anybody and when we’re doing that, we get plenty of looks offensively and that should be enough to win games.”

The Predators snapped a five-game power-play drought during which they were 0-for-17, scoring twice with the man advantage against the Coyotes.

“We’ve been struggling on the power play, and I think you can see … you score two on the power play and it’s a different game,” said defenseman Roman Josi, who scored one of the man-advantage goals. “It gives you a chance to win every game. … We’ve got to keep that going.”

The Predators made a roster move on Monday in anticipation of facing the Devils. Forward Philip Tomasino was sent to AHL Milwaukee and forwards Egor Afanasyev and Mark Jankowski were summoned. The latter two are expected to make up two-thirds of the fourth line.

–Field Level Media

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