First-year Devils coach John Hynes is thrilled with more than his club's victories so far this season, and a win over the team sitting right above New Jersey in the standings should add to the list.
After sweeping the season series from the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Devils look to extend their home success against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
New Jersey (9-6-1) has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and was widely expected to be among the NHL's worst teams in 2015-16. Opening with four losses seemed to confirm those predictions, but the Devils have since gone 9-3-0 to gain renewed optimism.
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The club didn't reach 10 wins last season until Dec. 4 after 26 games.
"What we're real happy with, even more than the record, is just the way the team's come together," Hynes said. "Guys are playing for one another. There's a lot of belief in how we're playing."
That was evident in Thursday's 3-2 win at Chicago, which was New Jersey's second over the Blackhawks during a 3-1-0 stretch.
Sergey Kalinin has been a pleasant surprise of late with two goals and one assist over the past three games. The 24-year-old rookie right wing, who spent the last five seasons in Russia's KHL, assisted on Kyle Palmieri's goal Thursday before netting the decisive power-play tally with 2:27 to play.
"The game-winner was great," Hynes said. "We have him now net-front on the power play, which he earned."
Palmieri, who set up Kalinin's winner, has five goals and six assists over the last eight games after getting three points in the first eight. The right wing, though, only has one assist in four career meetings with Pittsburgh (10-6-0).
Adam Henrique has three goals over the last four matchups in Newark, and the Devils are 6-0-1 in their last seven there against the Penguins. A regulation win in this contest would move New Jersey past Pittsburgh into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Pittsburgh has followed a six-game winning streak by losing two of three after falling 2-1 at home to Columbus on Friday.
The Penguins' power play continues to be a major problem, ranking among the worst in the league with a 13.0 percent success rate. The unit is 0 for 10 over the last two games after scoring one goal in each of the previous five.
"We've shown at different times we're capable of doing that but with the group that we have, it should kind of flow a little bit better than it has," center Sidney Crosby said.
Crosby has just two goals and seven assists, but all his points have come in just five games. He went without a point for the 11th time Friday and had only one shot on goal.
A visit to New Jersey may not help Crosby since he has one goal and two assists over his last six games there. Evgeni Malkin has been kept off the scoresheet in his last four games in Newark and has just three points in the past 10.
Marc-Andre Fleury may be rested after making 26 saves against the Blue Jackets. He's 8-6-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in 14 games but hasn't played on back-to-back nights this season. In two such situations, the Penguins have turned to Jeff Zatkoff, who has won both of his starts with a 2.00 GAA.
Zatkoff would be facing the Devils for the first time, while Fleury is 5-14-1 with a 2.95 GAA in 20 career matchups on the road.