It's unlikely that New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk will play Tuesday night, and that should be good news for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Kovalchuk had a huge game the last time these teams met, but the host Devils will probably try to earn their fifth straight win in the series without him.
Coach Peter DeBoer did not confirm that Kovalchuk would miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury, but the left wing didn't practice Monday after sitting out Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over Winnipeg.
"Yeah, if there's a miraculous recovery overnight (Kovalchuk will play)," DeBoer told the Devils' official website. "I'm not going to paint myself into a corner, but like I said, the fact that he wasn't out there today speaks to where he's at for (Tuesday)."
Kovalchuk had a season-high three points in a 4-2 home win over Carolina (5-6-3) on Oct. 10. The Devils have won six straight at home over the Hurricanes and four in a row overall against them.
New Jersey (6-5-1) got two goals from Adam Henrique on Saturday, including the game-winner. DeBoer said it's up to the others to fill the void left by Kovalchuk.
"It's a hole to fill," DeBoer said. "You don't replace a guy like that with an individual, you have to replace his minutes by committee. We have to do what we did last game: get contributions from different people."
Zach Parise, who assisted on both goals Saturday by Henrique, scored two of his five goals this season in last month's contest against the Hurricanes. Parise has 10 points during a six-game run versus Carolina.
New Jersey figures to be facing an intense opponent based on Carolina coach Paul Maurice's comments after his team lost its second straight at home, 5-2 to Dallas on Sunday.
"We were not physically involved in that game," Maurice said. "It was more than that, it was just soft."
"At the end of the day, we can't let our goalies bail us out every single game," defenseman Tim Gleason said. "We've gotta come to play for them once in a while."
Captain Eric Staal remains embroiled in a lengthy slump. He's been held without a point in his last five games, and his minus-16 rating for the season is the NHL's worst by a wide margin.
Ward is 0-4-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average in his last five starts at the Prudential Center.
He faced Johan Hedberg in last month's meeting, but Martin Brodeur is back and has started two of the Devils' last three games. Brodeur is 12-3-1 with a 1.88 GAA in his last 17 starts against Carolina.
New Jersey has killed off all 13 of its opponents' power plays over its last four games, and is third in the league at 91.3 percent.
Devils defenseman Andy Greene will be a game-time decision with a lower-body injury.