The New Jersey Devils have been solid at home and a disaster on the road, but the team's focus right now is to end a six-game slide that has sent them plummeting to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Having won only twice in 13 games away from home (2-10-1), New Jersey kicks off a three-game California road trip with a visit to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
The Devils extended their slide with a 5-1 loss to nemesis Tampa Bay to fall for the 17th time in 22 games (5-12-5) since opening the season with four consecutive victories. "The road forces you to play simple, and just go play, not worry about momentum as much," forward Taylor Hall said. "There's no doubt about it that we're not feeling it as a team right now, and maybe a chance of scenery is good." The punchless Kings, who own the worst record in the Western Conference, have lost three of four and scored a combined four goals in that span. Los Angeles also has struggled against the Devils, getting outscored 8-1 in a two-game season sweep in 2017-18 and losing four of its last five at home versus New Jersey.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New Jersey), FS West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (9-12-5): Hall, the league's reigning Most Valuable Player, was benched for nearly 7 1/2 minutes in Monday's loss but did not dispute coach John Hynes' reason for yanking him from the lineup. "Just sometimes you gotta take your lumps and try and come back and play better," Hall said. "Everyone has a role on this team, and whether it's big or small, you have to do your best in that role." Cory Schneider, who has lost all five of his starts this season, replaced Keith Kinkaid during Monday's loss, but Hynes declined to name a starter for the matchup against Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE KINGS (10-17-1): Los Angeles has scored one goal or less 10 times and among the players who are struggling to find the net are linemates Tyler Toffoli (mired in a 10-game goal drought) and Jeff Carter, who has tallied once in his last 15. Special teams continue to be an issue for the Kings, who allowed a power-play goal and a short-handed tally in Tuesday's 2-1 setback to Arizona. Los Angeles ranks 30th in the league with the man advantage, converting on only 14.1 percent (12-for-85) of its chances while the penalty kill also is also near the bottom of the NHL at No. 28 (73.8).
1. Schneider is 5-4-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average versus Los Angeles.
2. Kings G Jonathan Quick is 4-4-2 with a 2.47 GAA versus New Jersey.
3. Devils F Jesper Bratt is expected back in the lineup after sitting out the last game due to illness.
PREDICTION: Devils 3, Kings 2 Bet Now
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