Flames meet Devils in heat of postseason pursuit

The Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils, who meet Friday night at the Prudential Center, need to buck recent trends in order to remain in the playoff hunt during this crucial month of February.

Beginning with the contest in New Jersey, the Flames (26-24-3) play eight of their next 10 games on the road. While the Flames have a respectable 12-11-3 road record, they have only one win (1-4-1) in their last six as the visiting team.

"Some of the games we've lost recently on the road, we were playing well," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said to reporters earlier in the week. "We just couldn't get the first goal. We've never had trouble this year playing with the lead. We have trouble when we get down; and, for me, that's something where we have to make a conscious effort, both mentally and physically during games, to handle those situations."

The Devils (21-21-9), meanwhile, need to figure out how to win games on home ice. They are mired in a six-game skid (0-5-1) at the Prudential Center and last won at home Jan. 2 and are 1-7-1 their last nine in New Jersey.

That creates a make or break scenario for the Devils because including Friday's game with the Flames, they play nine of their next 11 games at home before the schedule becomes a bit more road heavy in March.

"Right now we are not playing well enough at home to win, and we know that's something we need to be better at because we have quite a few home games coming up here," Devils coach John Hynes said. "I don't think there's a rhyme or reason to it, but it's something we are cognizant of as a group. We have to find a way to have more success at home."

Ironically, the Devils did not lose their first game in regulation at the Prudential Center until Dec. 9. Along the way, they established a franchise record by going 10 straight games to open the season without losing a game in regulation at home (8-0-2).

"We proved we can win here, and on the road," Devils goaltender Cory Schneider said. "We have to be consistent in every game, both home and road. They all matter right now. We can't take a night off or have an off night no matter where we are."

The Devils came out of the All-Star break Tuesday with a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings in Detroit. Schneider made 27 saves, Kyle Palmieri scored twice, including the first short-handed goal of his career, and Adam Henrique also scored a shortie.

Rookie Stefan Noesen also scored his second goal in as many games for the Devils after being claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

"It's definitely our time to step up and start stringing together some wins," Palmieri told reporters after Tuesday's victory.

Like the Devils, the Flames won their first game following the break, skating to a convincing 5-1 home-ice victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. In doing so, Calgary snapped Minnesota's 14-game road points streak.

Sean Monahan paced the Flames with a pair of goals and leads the club with 18 this season. Brian Elliott backstopped the victory, Calgary's second straight after a four-game skid, with 28 saves while rugged Deryk Engelland scored a goal and added an assist.

"We've got a big three-game road trip here before our next break and we have to be ready to go because they are three good teams (the Devils, Rangers and Penguins) that are looking for points, too, because they're also in the race," Engelland told reporters.

This is the second and final meeting this season. The Devils edged the Flames 2-1 on Jan. 13. behind a goal and an assist from Palmieri.
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