Preview: Red Wings at Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood is expected to be back between the pipes to go after his third consecutive shutout when the New Jersey Devils host the NHL-worst Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Blackwood stopped all 83 shots he faced in wins against Los Angeles and Philadelphia last week before surrendering the net to backup Louis Domingue in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss against Florida.
Blackwood (17-12-7, .911 save percentage) has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for New Jersey, but his workload will be limited a bit in the home stretch of the season with the Devils far out of the race for a playoff spot. “(Blackwood) knows that when he played a lot a couple months ago, it probably wasn’t ideal,” New Jersey coach Alain Nasreddine told reporters. “He has all the skills and tools to be a No. 1 in this league, but we want to make sure we develop him the right way.” The Red Wings are 2-2-0 in their last four games after a 3-2 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday and they welcomed the return of Anthony Mantha from a 20-game injury absence as the 25-year-old right wing set up a pair of goals. “He played a great game,” Detroit center Dylan Larkin told reporters. “He’s a big body for us. He moves his feet really well. For a guy that’s missed that much time, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come back and look like they haven’t missed a beat.”
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: FS Detroit, MSG Plus
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (14-40-4): Mantha, who missed almost two months with a rib injury and punctured lung, is fifth on the team with 26 points (12 goals) despite missing time - one behind forward Robby Fabbri, who missed Tuesday’s game with a jaw injury. Larkin leads the team with 40 points and All-Star forward Tyler Bertuzzi is next with 38 while Filip Hronek tops all defensemen with nine goals and 28 points. Jonathan Bernier (12-15-2, .910 save percentage) has a .937 SP in his last six starts despite going just 3-3-0 and Jimmy Howard (2-21-2) is still seeking his first win since Oct. 29, but stopped 42 of 43 shots in his last outing Friday.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (20-25-10): Right wing Kyle Palmieri, who has often been mentioned in rumors as the trade deadline looms on Feb. 24, boasts four goals and an assist in his last four games to lead the team with 38 points. All-Star center Nico Hischier (knee) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (lower body) could miss their fifth straight game while forward Blake Coleman has two goals along with two assists in his past four contests. Damon Severson owns two goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak and rookie center Jack Hughes scored for the first time in 12 games Tuesday with his first-period power-play tally.
1. Detroit F Brendan Perlini suffered a deep gash across his nose and cheek in Tuesday’s game and is questionable.
2. The Devils are 5-for-14 on the power play over the last four games while Detroit is 16-for-16 in penalty killing the past five contests.
3. Red Wings veteran D Mike Green had an assist Tuesday to draw within one point of 500 for his career and is one goal shy of 150.
PREDICTION: Devils 3, Red Wings 1