If “sorry” isn’t the hardest word for New Jersey Devils fans to utter to coach Lindy Ruff, it’s certainly become the happiest word for them to say.
The resurgent Devils will look to extend their longest winning streak in 15 years Tuesday night, when New Jersey is scheduled to begin a three-game road trip by visiting the Montreal Canadiens.
Both teams have been off since earning wins at home Saturday night. The Devils won their ninth straight by beating the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 in Newark, N.J. The Canadiens recorded their third consecutive victory by edging the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in overtime.
The winning streak is the longest for the Devils since a nine-game run from Nov. 17 through Dec. 7, 2007. New Jersey hasn’t won at least 10 straight since the 2005-06 team ended the regular season with 11 consecutive victories before continuing the streak in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a four-game sweep of the New York Rangers.
Those winning streaks came in the midst of an unmatched period of prosperity for the Devils, who made the playoffs 21 times and won three Stanley Cups in a 24-season span between 1987-88 and 2011-12.
“There’s been some good teams in Jersey, so those are stats that maybe kind of pop up and guys in the room think, ‘That’s cool,'” Devils right winger Nathan Bastian said. “But hey, every day we come to work and try to get a little bit better.”
This stretch is a little more unexpected for the Devils. They missed the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons and started out 0-2 this year with consecutive 5-2 losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings. Chants of “Fire Lindy!” rained down in their third game after New Jersey gave up the first two goals to the Anaheim Ducks in Newark on Oct. 18.
But New Jersey scored four unanswered goals to record its first win and begin a 13-game stretch in which it has gone 12-1-0 while outscoring the opposition 51-28. And after scoring twice in a span of under three minutes to go ahead 4-2 late in the second period Saturday, fans at the Prudential Center serenaded Ruff with chants of “Sorry Lindy!”
“I accept the apology and maybe one day we can all sit down and have a beer and laugh about it,” Ruff said with a grin.
The mood also has been lighter lately around the Canadiens, whose three-game winning streak has vaulted them over .500 (8-6-1) just one season after Montreal finished with 55 points, the fewest in franchise history over a season of longer than 60 games.
The Canadiens have won more than three straight games just once since the start of the 2019-20 season. Montreal posted five consecutive victories from Feb. 17-26, 2022, a stretch that lifted its record to 13-33-7.
On Saturday night, the Canadiens overcame a trio of one-goal deficits and scored the game-tying goal within a minute of each of the Penguins’ last two goals in the third period.
“It’s not just in some games — we’re not giving up in every single game,” Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said. “Tonight, we weren’t winning, but we played a good game, continued to do what we do and continued to believe that the way we play would take us where we want to go.”
–Field Level Media