New Jersey Devils Game 81 Preview: at Carolina Hurricanes

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 04: New Jersey Devils right wing Alexander Holtz (10) shoots as Boston Bruins center Curtis Lazar (20) moves in during a game between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils on January 4, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils take on the Carolina Hurricanes in their penultimate game of the season.

Tale of the Tape

Record: 27-44-9 (63 points, 7th in Metro)

The Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes (53-20-8)

Puckdrop: 7:00 PM ET

Venue: PNC Arena

Expected Goaltenders: Andrew Hammond (4-4-1) vs. Antti Raanta (14-5-4)

Television Broadcasts: MSG+, BSSO

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes clinched their second consecutive division championship when they defeated the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. After extending their lead to three early in the third period, Carolina was able to withstand a late charge from the Rangers as they took the game 4-3.

Captain Jordan Staal and defenseman Jacob Slavin will get the night off as a result of their playoff position. Goaltender Antti Raata is expected to return to the crease for the first time since April 24 where he left the game in the second period.

Raanta has been a consistent backup behind Frederik Andersen this season. The 32-year-old has been consistent all season as he comes into tonight’s game with a 2.43 GAA and .913 save percentage to go with his 14-5-4 record.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils come into tonight having dropped their most recent contest against the Ottawa Senators. The high scoring affair saw the Devils overcome a 4-2 deficit before Drake Batherson scored a beautiful goal to give Ottawa the overtime win.

Mackenzie Blackwood made 29 saves in his first game since January 19 and Nolan Foote found the back of the net twice in the loss.

Blackwood will get the night off tonight as he’s expected to start in tomorrow’s season finale against the Detroit Red Wings. Look for Andrew Hammond to get the nod tonight for New Jersey. The 34-year-old comes into tonight’s game with a 4-4-1 record on the season.

The Devils will still be without captain Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar as the two continue battle the a non-COVID related illness.

Player to Watch: Alex Holtz

Alex Holtz is back up with the big club as he’ll play his first game with New Jersey since January 4. Holtz has been lighting up the AHL with 51 points (26 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games for the Utica Comets. The 2020 first-round pick is still in search of his first NHL goal and he’s acknowledged that he needs to be a little quicker this time around.

Holtz will slot in on a line with Jesper Boqvist and Jesper Bratt. The Swedish trio will look to drive offense tonight as, most likely, the club’s top line. Look for Holtz to use his wicked wrist shot in all situations, especially on the power play, as he looks for his first NHL goal.

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