National Hockey League
Preview
New Jersey at Washington
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia

The New Jersey Devils clinched their first playoff berth since losing in the 2011-12 Stanley Cup finals last time out and look to improve their seeding when they visit the Metropolitan Division champion Washington Capitals on Saturday night. The Devils are 7-0-1 in their last eight games after edging Toronto 2-1 on Thursday and could match up against the Capitals in the first round.

“We did it,” New Jersey center Brian Boyle told reporters. “We didn’t rely on anyone. It’s a sense of accomplishment. The battling for playoff positioning and trying to clinch, it’s all part of the fun of it. Emotions rise, tensions rise, you work hard and you get rewarded. We did it together.” The Devils are tied with Columbus in points for third place in the Metro and Philadelphia is one point behind with one game to go while the Capitals have won the division three straight seasons, but their two-year Presidents’ Trophy streak is over. Washington could rest some players for the regular-season finale after dropping a 4-3 decision to Nashville on Thursday as captain Alex Ovechkin scored to move within three of his eighth season with at least 50 goals. “Right now our focus is not on 50, our focus is on the playoffs,” Ovechkin told reporters. “And being in shape. We didn’t get hurt. That’s the most important thing.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network; MSG Plus (New Jersey), NBCS Washington

ABOUT THE DEVILS (44-28-9): Hart Trophy contender Taylor Hall saw his nine-game point streak end Thursday, but has scored eight times and set up nine others over the last 10 contests to push his career-high totals to 39 goals and 93 points. Rookie center Nico Hischier is next on the team with 51 points and rookie defenseman Will Butcher (44) is finishing the season strong with three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Goalie Cory Schneider could get his first start since March 20 to provide more rest for Keith Kinkaid (26-10-3), who went 7-0-1 in the last eight contests with a .931 save percentage in that span.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (48-26-7): Ovechkin has a three-goal lead on Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine to earn his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy and tops the team with 85 points - three better than Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has five in his last three games. Center Nicklas Backstrom needs one point to reach 70 for a fifth straight season and is three away from 800 for his career while John Carlson leads all defensemen in the league with 67. Braden Holtby (33-16-4, .908 save percentage) has won four of his last five starts and is expected to get the call Saturday as he tries to win the No. 1 spot for the playoffs.

OVERTIME

1. Washington RW T.J. Oshie has at least a point in six straight games, posting two goals and four assists in that stretch.

2. New Jersey LW Patrick Maroon is two shy of 100 assists and D John Moore needs one point to reach 100 points in their career.

3. The Devils snapped a five-game losing streak in the series with a 4-3 overtime victory on Jan. 18 with three assists from D Sami Vatanen.

PREDICTION: Devils 4, Capitals 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
New Jersey 44-28-5-4 W4 23-14-3-1 21-14-2-3 4-3-0-1 40-25-5-3 16-9-1-1
Washington 48-26-6-1 L1 27-11-2-0 21-15-4-1 4-3-2-0 44-23-4-1 16-8-2-1
Last Meeting
New Jersey Washington
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
1/18/18 WAS 3 NJ 4 (OT) 32 16 0-3 19 28 0-5
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
New Jersey S. Vatanen 3
Washington B. Connolly 2
Goals Player  
New Jersey A. Greene 1
Washington B. Connolly 2
Assists Player  
New Jersey S. Vatanen 3
Washington J. Beagle 1
Saves Player  
New Jersey K. Kinkaid 16
Washington B. Holtby 28
Season
Total Points Player  
New Jersey T. Hall 94
Washington E. Kuznetsov 87
Goals Player  
New Jersey T. Hall 39
Washington A. Ovechkin 47
Assists Player  
New Jersey T. Hall 55
Washington E. Kuznetsov 59
Saves Player  
New Jersey K. Kinkaid 1193
Washington B. Holtby 1559
Quickchart Matchup
New Jersey Off vs  Washington Def
2.96 GF
2.9 GA
31.8 Shots
31.9 Shots
54 PP
53 PK
Washington Off vs  New Jersey Def
3.1 GF
2.9 GA
29 Shots
32 Shots
55 PP
47 PK