NEW YORK (AP) — The Washington Capitals celebrated when they ended an eight-game skid. The New Jersey Devils might do the same if they can break a road losing streak of the same length – the second-longest such slide in team history.
The Devils face the Capitals on Tuesday night in the teams’ third meeting of the season.
Washington ended an 0-6-2 skid by rallying for a 3-2 win at Ottawa on Sunday. Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, Washington (19-12-4) did all of its scoring in the first 6:55 of the second period, getting two goals from Mathieu Perreault in his return from illness and one from Eric Fehr.
After the final horn sounded, the Capitals mobbed goaltender Michal Neuvirth and pushed their goal into the boards during the celebration.
“We felt like we won a championship,” Perreault said. “We needed that win so much for our confidence and just for the team. That was a huge win for us.”
The previous night, the Devils (9-21-2) endured their most lopsided defeat of the season, 7-1 in Atlanta. Martin Brodeur was pulled after giving up four goals in the first 27:35.
“Everything went wrong,” said Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored New Jersey’s lone goal against his former team. “I don’t know what it is. It’s unacceptable. It’s embarrassing.”
The Devils’ run of road futility reached eight games, its longest skid away from home since a franchise-worst 12 consecutive losses Oct. 19-Dec. 1, 1983.
The Devils, 1-7-0 in December, fell 7-2 in their last trip to the nation’s capital Oct. 9. They have lost three of four there after winning six of the previous seven road games in the series.
Washington, though, probably won’t take New Jersey lightly after losing 5-0 in Newark on Nov. 22. The Devils’ Johan Hedberg made 30 saves in that game, but Brodeur will likely start Tuesday despite giving up nine goals in back-to-back defeats at the Verizon Center.
“(Brodeur) doesn’t get pulled twice in a row,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’ll be great.”
Brodeur was pulled after allowing four goals in the second period Oct. 9, two coming from Alex Ovechkin. The star forward has three goals and three assists in his past two matchups with Brodeur, and six goals and nine assists in his last seven games against the Devils.
Ovechkin has two goals in his past 17 contests, but has collected 13 points over that span.
If there’s been a bright spot for New Jersey, it’s the recent play of Kovalchuk, who has three goals and four assists in the last five games. The right wing, who has scored at least 41 goals in each of the last six seasons, has eight in 2010-11.
A productive Kovalchuk would be a huge boost for the Devils, who have scored 15 times in 11 contests since beating the Capitals.
Kovalchuk, though, didn’t record a point in his past three games versus Washington after picking up 24 goals and 28 assists in the previous 43 against the Caps.
Neuvirth has started the past two games and seems likely to be in net again Tuesday, as he is 2-0-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average in his career against New Jersey.
Fehr is expected to miss Tuesday’s game because of a death in the family.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.