Devils look to bounce back at Calgary
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CALGARY, Alberta -- The New Jersey Devils are pleased with themselves right now, but not to the point where they feel comfortable.
"You have to be proud of our record to this point of the season and take confidence in that," forward Taylor Hall said.
"But at the same time, we were 9-3-3 last year and we finished 27th. We have a lot to improve. If you look at our last few games, we have been outshot and outplayed a bit. We have to figure it out quickly."
The Devils bring a 9-3-0 record into Sunday's stop in Calgary, where they will clash with the Flames at 7 p.m. Mountain.
New Jersey is coming off its first road loss of the season Friday night in a 6-3 defeat in Edmonton. The last remaining team to remain unbeaten on the road, the Devils are an impressive 5-1 away from home, which has elevated them to the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
"We felt the last couple of games we haven't played as soundly as we wanted to," head coach John Hynes said Saturday. "There were excellent pockets in the game (Friday). But we want to see more consistency and we addressed those areas in practice and video.
"The other part is a mindset. We do have skill and talent but to win in this league there has to be tremendous work ethic and compete and play on the same page and to play to identity."
Hynes spoke after Friday's loss of how they didn't play well when Edmonton's top players were on the ice. Connor McDavid set up three of the Oilers six goals. On Sunday, they will need to stop New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau, who leads the Flames with 16 points and like Hall is currently in the top 10 in league scoring.
New Jersey faces a Flames team that looks like it may be getting out of a home funk. They started the season 1-4-0 at home but have won back-to-back games at the Saddledome to kick off a seven-game home stand.
Calgary employs red-hot net minder Mike Smith, who held two of the top offensive teams to one goal each the past two games. He beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 last Sunday and then did the same to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 overtime win on Thursday.
The 35-year-old came to Calgary last summer in a trade with the woeful Arizona Coyotes, where he spent the past six seasons. He brings a career-low 2.19 goals against average into Thursday.
"I think last year was probably the most consistent hockey I've played over the course of one year," Smith told Sportsnet.
"Obviously the wins weren't there but, personally, my goal was I didn't want goaltending to be an excuse or an issue for us losing hockey games.
"I tried to carry that same momentum from last year into a new season with a new team. Obviously you want to get off to a good start and be an impact player and be solid for this group and get the confidence from them early in the season. I just want to keep that going."
He has done that and more in the eyes of Flames captain Mark Giordano.
"He's been our best player this year. It's not even close," he said.
Updated November 5, 2017