New Jersey Devils vs. Colorado Avalanche Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 6th 2024

Behind red-hot Nathan MacKinnon, the Colorado Avalanche came out of the All-Star break eyeing the top spot in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, simply making the playoffs is at stake for the struggling New Jersey Devils.

Amid a four-game point streak (3-0-1), the Avalanche will try to rebound from a rare defeat when they oppose the Devils on Tuesday night in Newark, N.J.

Colorado, 13-3-2 since Dec. 21, is trying to catch the Vancouver Canucks atop the West. However, the Avalanche fell 2-1 in overtime to the host New York Rangers on Monday night, snapping a three-game winning streak in which Colorado totaled 18 goals.

“We’ll take the point, wish we had two, and move on to (Tuesday) night,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.

Despite the team’s setback, MacKinnon scored his 32nd goal to extend his point streak to 14 games, during which he has 13 goals and 16 assists. MacKinnon, who had a 19-game point streak earlier this season, is the first Colorado player ever to log two point streaks of at least 14 games in the same campaign.

He has 19 points, including seven goals, in 18 career games vs. New Jersey. In Colorado’s 6-3 home win over New Jersey on Nov. 7, MacKinnon and ex-Devil Miles Wood each recorded a goal and an assist. Mikko Rantanen had two goals and an assist for the Avalanche, and Cale Makar posted three helpers.

The Devils, who have lost two games in a row, are set to return from a nine-day break.

Seven points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Devils are amid a 3-6-1 stretch, and they have yielded at least five goals in three of their past four games. New Jersey entered the break following a 6-3 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 27.

“We want to be a playoff team. We need to win games for that,” said New Jersey’s Nico Hischier, who has two goals and three assists in his past five games. “Everybody knows what’s at stake.”

Injuries have a played a key role in New Jersey’s issues this season, but Tomas Nosek is back practicing after sitting out since mid-November with a right foot injury that necessitated surgery. Meanwhile, star Jack Hughes (15 goals, 30 assists) is also nearing a return from an upper-body injury sustained Jan. 5.

Getting Hughes back would give the club a much-needed emotional boost.

“I can’t really give you a date,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said of Hughes’ possible return. “It could be soon.”

A shoulder issue kept Hughes out of the November game with Colorado, a contest in which New Jersey All-Star Jesper Bratt had an assist. Bratt has three goals and an assist in his past four games.

New Jersey’s Vitek Vanecek (3.24 goals-against average) made 36 saves at Tampa Bay, but he has allowed a total of nine goals in his past two starts. He stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced at Colorado in November. Current Devils backup Nico Daws owns a 4.22 GAA during an active four-game losing streak.

Colorado’s Alexandar Georgiev made 27 saves on Monday. He has stopped 76 of 81 shots in his past three games, but he could give way to Justus Annunen, who might make his second start of the season after being recalled from the AHL Colorado Eagles on Saturday.

Makar, who assisted on MacKinnon’s goal against the Rangers, has three goals and eight assists during a seven-game point streak. He has posted six assists and a goal in five career games vs. New Jersey.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping