The New Jersey Devils aim to rebound from a lopsided loss when they host the Winnipeg Jets for Sunday's battle at Prudential Center.
New Jersey split a two-game series in Washington, beating the Capitals by a 3-2 score on Thursday before getting routed 5-1 in Saturday's rematch at the Verizon Center. It was a rare two-game series as a quirk in the shortened schedule forced the teams to play consecutively in the same city.
Alex Ovechkin scored two of Washington's four third-period goals to complete his 11th career hat trick and lead the Capitals to the lopsided victory. For the Devils it was their fourth loss in six games, a slump that comes directly on the heels of a season-best five-game winning streak.
Johan Hedberg got the start in net for the Devils after Martin Brodeur won two nights ago and made 21 saves in defeat. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal for New Jersey, which is 1-2-1 in its last four.
"You have to give (Ovechkin) credit. We know what kind of player he is and if you let him execute, he's going to hurt you and he did," said Hedberg.
The score was tied at 1-1 after two periods and the shots also were even at 15-15, but Washington steamrolled the Devils in the third period.
"I think after two (periods), we had played a decent road game," said Devils coach Pete DeBoer. "We had some opportunities. I thought we carried the chances in the second period and was hoping for another push in the third, and we didn't get that."
The Devils played both games in Washington without forward Ryan Carter, who is dealing with a head injury. He is considered day-to-day and is questionable for Sunday.
New Jersey will play its next two games against Winnipeg, but this isn't a home-and-home series because the Jets visit the New York Rangers before hosting the Devils on Thursday.
The Devils took three of four from the Jets in 2011-12 and Jersey has dominated the recent series against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. New Jersey has claimed six of seven and nine of the past 11 encounters and the Jets have dropped five in a row and eight of 11 in the Garden State.
Brodeur is expected to start Sunday. The future Hall of Famer is 25-8-5 with three ties and a 2.10 goals against average in 42 career games against the Jets/Thrashers.
Winnipeg had won the first two tests on its five-game road trip before losing Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. The Jets led the contest by a 3-1 score in the second period, but the Flyers notched the final four goals of the game to earn a 5-3 decision.
Evander Kane scored for the Jets and has recorded a point in six straight games, registering three goals and three assists during that span.
Olli Jokinen and Alex Burmistrov also scored for the Jets, who have dropped four of their last six games overall. Ondrej Pavelec yielded four scores on 38 shots in defeat.
The Jets went 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed Philadelphia to score three times on six chances with the man advantage. Winnipeg has failed to score a power-play goal over its last eight games, going a combined 0-for-21 during that stretch.
"I thought we played a pretty hard game if you take the special teams out of the scenario," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "In the areas where the puck wasn't in a tough area to defend, we gave up pressure in areas where don't normally pressure and they came right back on our net off the rush. I'm disappointed to say the least."
The Jets will complete their five-game road trip Tuesday in New York before returning home to face the Devils.
New Jersey is 6-1-2 as the host this season, while the Jets are 4-4-1 as the visiting team.