Outstanding goaltending and defense made the New Jersey Devils a perennial playoff participant during the previous two decades.
That same formula may help them get back there after a three-year drought.
The surging Devils vie for a fourth straight win and second over the Philadelphia Flyers in four days when the longtime rivals face off Tuesday night.
In a season where it's averaging an NHL-low 2.19 goals, New Jersey (29-21-7) is right in the playoff mix by being the league's stingiest team. The Devils have lowered their league-leading goals-against average to 2.18 by yielding 18 over an 8-2-2 stretch that's vaulted them into one of the Eastern Conference's two wild-card spots.
"You can't say it's a fluke at this point in the season," forward Lee Stempniak said. "We've worked extremely hard."
New Jersey has relied heavily upon standout goaltender Cory Schneider, second in the league with 47 starts, but received an excellent stand-in performance from Keith Kinkaid to extend the streak. The seldom-used backup made 28 saves for his first career shutout in Sunday's 1-0 victory over Los Angeles.
"I credit our goalie coach Chris Terreri; he's done a great job with both our goalies and I think (Kinkaid) has done a fantastic job of being able to stay ready and perform when called upon," first-year coach John Hynes told the NHL's official website.
Schneider got a break after recording 31 saves in Saturday's 2-1 win in Philadelphia, his seventh consecutive outing allowing two goals or less. The All-Star owns a 1.56 GAA over that span and a league-leading 1.98 mark this season. >> Read more...