Stars visit Devils in battle of skidding clubs

( - A pair of teams after their first wins of 2014 will meet Thursday in the Garden State, as the New Jersey Devils welcome the Dallas Stats to the Prudential Center.

Dallas has lost three straight -- all in regulation -- since the calendar flipped to January and the Stars have lost four of their last five tilts overall. It is the longest skid of the 2013-14 campaign for the Stars, who ended last season on an 0-4-1 slide.

The Devils, meanwhile, enter Thursday with an 0-2-1 mark in January and have lost five of their past seven games. New Jersey was able to gain a point in its last trip to ice, but lost a 3-2 overtime decision on Tuesday to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.

New Jersey led the Flyers 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation, but Philadelphia scored twice in the first half of the third period to grab a lead. The Devils then scored short handed with 30 seconds left to send the game to OT, but Brayden Schenn notched a goal at 1:50 of the extra session to lift the Flyers to the win.

On the shift prior to Schenn's game-winner, a Dainius Zubrus chance fooled Ray Emery but clanged off the right post. That luck was extended to the following offensive rush, which saw Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman fake a shot from the left point and then thread the needle to a wide-open Schenn on the right wing, and he buried the winner.

Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder lit the lamp for the Devils, while Martin Brodeur made 25 saves, but not the most crucial one.

Tuesday's test marked the start of a three-game homestand for the Devils, who are just 8-6-6 as the host this season. New Jersey will complete the stay in Newark with Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers.

Cory Schneider will get the start over Brodeur in net tonight. The former Vancouver Canucks goaltender is 5-3-0 with a 2.39 goals against average in eight career games against the Stars.

While New Jersey has lost its last three games by a total margin of four goals, the Stars have not been nearly as competitive during their three-game slide. After a 7-3 road loss Monday against the New York Islanders, Dallas has been outscored by an 18-8 margin during its current skid.

John Tavares recorded his fifth career hat trick and also tied a career high with five points in Monday's rout of the Stars at Nassau Coliseum. Dallas led the game 2-0 after 20 minutes, but the rest of the contest belonged to the home team.

Jamie Benn, Valeri Nichushkin and Erik Cole each scored once for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen allowed all seven goals on 43 shots in the setback.

"That's probably the most disappointing (game) of the whole year," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Their legs were better. Their energy level was better. Their puck management was better. That might have been our worst game of the year."

Monday's lopsided setback wasn't the best way for the Stars to begin a three- game road trip and the loss dropped Dallas to 11-9-2 as the guest this season. After this evening's battle in New Jersey, the Stars will complete the swing tomorrow evening against the New York Rangers.

New Jersey has won six of its last seven home tilts against the Stars, but Dallas has claimed four of seven overall in the series. The clubs haven't faced each other since Dec. 16, 2011, when the Devils notched a 6-3 home win.