While Sean Monahan is making an immediate impact for the surprising Calgary Flames, not much has gone right for the New Jersey Devils during their worst start in 12 years.
Monahan looks to stay hot and help the Flames earn points in their first five games for the first time in 35 years Friday night when they host the winless Devils.
After finishing with the third-fewest points in the Western Conference last season, Calgary (2-0-2) continued its strong start with a 3-2 win over visiting Montreal on Wednesday.
The Flames have a chance to pick up at least one point in their first five games since they got it done in 12 straight to open the 1978-79 season, when they played in Atlanta.
Their rookie forward has certainly played a key role in that success. After contributing a goal and an assist against the Canadiens, Monahan tops the Flames with three goals and is tied with Jiri Hudler for the team lead with five points.
"Obviously it's a great start," said Monahan, who has scored in three straight games. "We haven't lost a game in regulation. It's been a lot of fun. I'm getting more comfortable every day."
With the sixth overall pick in this year's draft leading the way, the Flames rank among the top scoring teams in the NHL with 15 goals. Coach Bob Hartley can hardly believe his emerging star turns 19 on Saturday.
"I sometimes pinch myself and wonder if I need to check his birth certificate, the poise he is showing for an 18-year-old kid," Hartley said.
Hudler has two goals and three assists while producing at least a point in each game. The left wing, one goal shy of 100 for his career, has dished out an assist in each of his last two meetings with the Devils.
New Jersey (0-1-3) is seeking any kind of spark as it tries to end its longest drought to open a season since 2001-02, when it started 0-3-1. The Devils haven't opened without a win through five games since 1981-82, when they started 0-4 with a tie as the Colorado Rockies.
In his return to Vancouver after being traded to the Devils in June, Cory Schneider finished with 29 saves Tuesday but couldn't hold a two-goal lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Canucks. New Jersey also had a three-goal advantage in Edmonton the previous night before falling 5-4 in a shootout.
"It's not easy to get a lead in this league and we had it the last two games, 3-0 and 2-0 and we still get only two points together, so we should get more points than that," right wing Jaromir Jagr said.
Schneider, who has been splitting time with Martin Brodeur, posted a 1.63 goals-against average while winning all three starts against the Flames last season.
Brodeur has yielded seven goals in his two starts and has a 6.32 GAA in his last two in Calgary. He was pulled in the opening period there after allowing two goals on five shots in the teams' last meeting, a 6-3 Flames' win Jan. 10, 2012.
Joey MacDonald has made three straight starts for the Flames, recording a 2-0-1 record despite a 3.30 GAA. He could be back in the crease against a New Jersey team that has scored nine goals in three games after getting shut out in the opener.
Damien Brunner leads the Devils with three goals, while Jagr and Patrik Elias have two goals and an assist in their last two games.
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