The Anaheim Ducks have gotten their season-high road trip off to an excellent start and have begun thinking about the playoffs once again.
To keep that momentum, the Ducks will have to pick up a rare road victory over the Devils as they look to avoid an eighth loss in their last nine regular- season trips to New Jersey.
Anaheim has been one of the league's hottest teams since the start of the new calendar year, going 14-2-3 since Jan. 6 to climb within eight points of a playoff spot following a slow start to the season. The Ducks have points in seven straight (5-0-2) and that includes a 3-0-1 record so far on their road trip.
The latest stop on the trek came Wednesday in Pittsburgh, where the Ducks cooled off the Penguins with a 2-1 win. After yielding the game's opening goal, Corey Perry tied things up in the second before Teemu Selanne netted the game-winner in the third frame to give Anaheim its third straight win.
"This team is playing with a lot of confidence right now," Selanne said after moving into a tie with Brendan Shanahan for 12th on the league's all-time list with 656 career goals.
Jonas Hiller made 25 saves as the Ducks improved to 7-1-3 in their past 11 road games.
New Jersey has typically been a location of struggles for Anaheim, which has just one victory in its last eight trips there in the regular season dating back to the 1996-97 season. The Ducks are making just their third trip to the Garden State since losing Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals to the Devils.
The Devils have won two straight versus the Ducks overall, including a 2-1 victory in Anaheim in the lone meeting last season.
New Jersey comes into this meeting tied with Ottawa for sixth in the East with 68 points, one behind Pittsburgh and three back of Philadelphia in the standings. The Devils snapped a two-game slide with Tuesday's 4-1 win at Buffalo.
Ilya Kovalchuk notched his 12th career hat trick and logged an assist, while Petr Sykora had the other goal. Adam Henrique had two assists and Martin Brodeur came up with 29 saves to push New Jersey's record in its past nine games to 6-1-2.
"I really have high hopes for this team," Sykora said. "If we can keep it together and play the same way, I think we can play some good hockey late in the spring."
Kovalchuk capped his three-goal game with an empty-netter and tallied his first hat trick since Feb. 15, 2009. That came in a meeting with the Ducks while he was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.