The Winnipeg Jets will try to complete a season series sweep of New Jersey when they visit the struggling Devils for Sunday's clash at Prudential Center.
The teams met for the first time in 2013 on Feb. 24, when Winnipeg recorded a 4-2 road win. Four days later the Jets hosted the Devils and grabbed a 3-1 decision.
Still, New Jersey has six wins in its past nine meetings with the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise and the Jets had dropped five in a row in the Garden State before posting the road win last month.
The Jets are on a two-game win streak and coach Claude Noel's club has posted victories in five of seven and seven of their last 10 outings. Despite that recent hot streak, Winnipeg is still outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but comes into Sunday's matchup trailing seventh-seeded New Jersey by just two points.
Winnipeg is 2-1-0 on a four-game road trip that ends in New Jersey. The Jets won in dramatic fashion in their last game, posting a 3-2 overtime decision Friday at Florida.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the game winner with 40.5 seconds left in OT to lift the Jets past the Panthers. Byfuglien had gone 13 games without a goal, but picked a perfect time to notch his fourth tally of the season, as the Winnipeg defenseman stepped through two defenders in the slot before rifling a wrister past the glove side of Jacob Markstrom to send the Jets to victory.
Andrew Ladd registered a goal and an assist, while Blake Wheeler also lit the lamp for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 38 shots in the triumph.
"I thought we were a lot better in the way we wanted to play and the way we wanted to get things done," Noel remarked. "It wasn't smooth, but I felt that the team wanted to get it done and they did."
The Jets have a solid 8-5-1 record on the road this season after going 14-22-5 away from Winnipeg in 2011-12.
The Devils hope a trip back home can get them just their second win in nine games. New Jersey ended a six-game losing streak with Thursday's shootout win over visiting Buffalo, but then lost a 6-3 decision Saturday at Carolina. Jiri Tlusty had two goals and an assist to lead the Hurricanes to the easy win.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice in the loss while Patrik Elias also lit the lamp for the Devils.
"We got outworked in those first two periods and it showed on the scoreboard," said Kovalchuk. "I thought we finally got things together in the third, but it was too late."
New Jersey continues to have goaltending issues in the absence of longtime starter Martin Brodeur, who is sidelined with a back injury. Johan Hedberg gave up five goals on 18 shots Saturday before being pulled in favor of Jeff Frazee, who made his NHL debut in the third period and stopped all three shots he faced in relief.
Hedberg has started all eight games since Brodeur last played and despite being 1-6-1 in those tests the veteran is expected to get the call again on Sunday.
In addition to Brodeur, the Devils are missing defensemen Bryce Salvador (upper body) and Henrik Tallinder (lower body). Salvador is expected to sit out a second straight game Sunday, while Tallinder will miss his third in a row.
New Jersey is playing two straight and four of its next five games in Newark, where the Devils are 7-3-2 as the host this season.