It was hard to believe, but the New Jersey Devils earned a three-game winning streak for the first time in 2019-20 after defeating the New York Islanders, 2-1, on Jan. 2.
The victory over the Islanders also marked consecutive Devils wins against current playoff contenders for the Eastern Conference. Back-to-back wins alone have even been a rare occurrence for this year’s Devils team.
With the season-high, The Hockey Writers reflects on the Devils’ longest winning streak in team history.
What Are the Devils’ Top Streaks?
For starters, since the NHL used tie games until the 2005-06 season, “unbeaten streaks” is a category that can’t go overlooked. New Jersey owns an unbeaten streak of 13 games on four occasions and most recently the feat was accomplished in 2003-04. The season after winning its third Stanley Cup championship, Jersey’s team posted a 10-0-3 record from Oct. 28 to Nov. 26, 2003.
The Devils’ longest unbeaten streak at home is 15 games, which took place during the 1996-97 campaign. Away from home ice, the longest streak without suffering a loss was during the memorable 2000-01 season, after the Devils won 10 straight road games from Feb. 27 to April 7, 2001.
It’s no coincidence that those were seasons when Jersey’s team experienced regular-season and Stanley Cup playoffs success while earning two division titles and one Prince of Wales Trophy. What’s also interesting is that the team earned those streaks under three different head coaches, all of which won Cups with New Jersey, but just not in those respective seasons: Jacques Lemaire (1996-97), Larry Robinson (2000-01) and Pat Burns (2003-04).
The Longest Winning Streak
The three-time Stanley Cup champions have two other notable winning streaks in addition to the team’s longest.
During the 2005-06 season, New Jersey posted an 11-game winning streak from March 28 to April 18. The winning streak under (then) head coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello is the second-longest in team history, while the Devils earned the third-longest winning streak earlier that same season.
New Jersey won nine straight games that season from Jan. 3 to Jan. 21. That streak was tied two seasons later in 2007-08 from Nov. 17 to Dec. 7.
While most NHL fans alike might think that the Devils’ longest winning streak in franchise history was recorded during a Stanley Cup championship year, that’s not the case. The Devils’ longest winning streak took place during the 2000-01 campaign after captain Scott Stevens and company won 13 straight games.
Leading up to the 13-game winning streak was a unique situation for Jersey’s team, and fans can wonder if then head coach Larry Robinson was on the hot seat. From Feb. 8 to Feb. 17, New Jersey was winless after six games (0-3-3). Given Lamoriello’s past history and short leashes with head coaches, luckily the Devils earned a historic run immediately afterward to erase the slump for an all-world caliber roster.
The historic winning streak’s duration lasted from Feb. 26 to March 23, while the Devils outscored opponents 61-24 and posted three shutouts in the process. Keep in mind that the great Martin Brodeur started in 11 of those 13 contests. What’s even more intriguing is that the Devils collected four victories on an intense Western Conference road trip after defeating the Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
New Jersey also defeated playoff teams from the Eastern Conference such as the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators.
Other notable players on memorable roster entailed skaters from the “A-line” with the likes of Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott. For Elias, the campaign stood as a career-high for the Czech Republic native after No. 26 recorded 96 points that season while tallying 40 goals.
Let’s not forget about Stevens’ supporting cast on the backend with Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski and a young Colin White, who was the only other Devil aside from Elias to dress in all 82 regular-season games.
How the Streak Ended
It seemed that the Devils were on the verge of at least tying the NHL record for 17 straight wins, which was set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ironically enough, New Jersey’s memorable winning-streak in 2000-01 was broken by Pittsburgh. The legendary Mario Lemieux and company defeated the Devils at the old Continental Airlines Arena on March 25, by a score of 4-2.
The Penguins marched into Jersey and erased a 2-1 Devils lead after the first period in large thanks to forwards Martin Straka, Aleksey Morozov and Robert Lang. The trio of Penguins’ skaters combined for 10 points on the day.
At the time, the 2000-01 Devils finished that the campaign with 48 wins which (then) tied the franchise record for victories in a season. While the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, they were defeated in seven games by the Avalanche, which it defeated en-route to the historic winning streak.
At the present time, it seems that the Devils’ memorable 13-game winning streak won’t be broken in the foreseeable future.