Sunday night at the Prudential Center, two Metropolitan Division teams headed in opposite directions face off when the New Jersey Devils host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Devils (25-27-12) are on their way to a fifth consecutive season out of the playoffs and are using the stretch run to get a long look at some of the organization's top prospects who have recently been called up from the minor leagues, including forwards Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, and Kevin Rooney.
"We're a young team now, it's time to give the younger players opportunities and roles," Devils general manager Ray Shero said on MSG Network. "I'm excited to see the kids. It's part of the evolution of this hockey team."
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Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets (40-17-6) eagerly look ahead to their return to postseason action while on pace for the most successful regular season in franchise history.
"We're in a good spot," Columbus forward Brandon Saad said on the team's website. "We're looking forward to the playoffs, and these games will help us down the road. All of these games are learning experiences."
Both the Devils and Blue Jackets are playing on successive nights, and both were 3-2 losers on the road Saturday.
The Devils lost in Boston to the Bruins despite 37 saves from goaltender Cory Schneider. They're riding a six-game losing streak coming into play Sunday. Kyle Palmieri scored his 20th goal in Boston, the second straight season he reached that milestone. Devante Smith-Pelly also scored for New Jersey.
Rugged defenseman Dalton Prout made his Devils debut Saturday after being acquired in a trade with Columbus for veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey on Wednesday. Prout logged a season-high 18:56 of ice time against the Bruins and is ready to face facing his former club on Sunday.
"I'm looking forward to it," Prout said to NorthJersey.com. "It's a change of scenery and a chance to play, and play against those guys real soon (after the trade)."
Quincey has played two games for the Blue Jackets since the deal and was a minus-two in Saturday's one-goal loss to the Ottawa Senators.
That defeat was Columbus' first regulation loss in five games (3-1-1). The Blue Jackets come into Newark on Sunday 5-2-1 in their last eight games, outscoring the opposition 25-13 in that span.
Despite their recent successful run, the Blue Jackets will not take the Devils lightly.
"We don't have the right to look past anybody," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We have to respect the league and respect our opponents, otherwise it can come back to bite you."
Saad scored his 20th goal in Saturday's loss, the third consecutive year he has scored 20. Teammate Cam Atkinson picked up an assist, giving him 54 points on the season, a career high.
Atkinson is also sitting on 29 goals, one shy of becoming only the seventh player in Blue Jackets franchise history to score 30 in a season.
Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky is also close to a milestone. He needs one more point to reach 400 in his career.
Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal for the Blue Jackets against New Jersey. He did not play Saturday and enters the game with a career-high 33 victories already this season.
New Jersey coach John Hynes did not name his starting goaltender, though it is expected that backup Keith Kinkaid will get the call to make only his second start in the past 15 games.
The Devils will be without their captain, Andy Greene, for a second straight game because of personal reasons. Veteran winger Michael Cammalleri, who has an injured shoulder, also will not play Sunday for the Devils.