New Jersey 2, Ducks 1.

Based on the Ducks’ last nine games, the smart bet is an Anaheim win tomorrow in San Jose.

The Ducks failed to win back-to-back games again Friday, this time at the hands of the current cellar-dwellers of the NHL standings. An inspired effort by Jason Blake resulted in the game’s first goal, a second-chance power-play tally at 8:07 of the second period.

That was the first, last and only time the horn wound sound inside Honda Center. Jamie Langenbrunner answered at 10:39 by sneaking a short-side shot between Jonas Hiller and the goal post to even the game at 1.

The game-winner proved to be Patrik Elias’ one-timer at 1:54 of the third period. Alexander Vasyunov created the scoring chance by intercepting a long Danny Syvret pass in the neutral zone and teeing the puck up for Elias in the high slot.

Hiller finished with 25 saves, but Martin Brodeur turned in a vintage 27-save perforamance. The Ducks held the offensively inept Devils to 27 shots, the second-fewest by a Ducks opponent this season.

“We turned the puck over, especially in the first half of the game, far too many times,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We knew the New Jersey Devils were going to play that typical trapping style in the neutral ice. We forced pucks into that area too many times. Consequently, they had a good margin of play in our zone for about half of the game.

“We started to get away from it, were putting pucks in and got our forechecking game going. We seemed to play better, then we made a costly turnover early in the third period and they scored a goal.”


Notes on tonight’s Devils-Ducks game

1. Newark is buzzing over the return of Scott Niedermayer, an important cog in the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003. So much so, in fact, that the Newark Star-Ledger ponders whether Niedermayer would become a Devil again before he retires.Asked about the possibility of being reunited with brother Rob, should the Ducks continue to struggle, Niedermayer told the paper “I think it’s a possibility,” Niedermayer said of being traded by the Ducks at some point this season. “Last year we were kind of a in a situation where we were teetering and there was some talk and rumors. You start to think about it.”

2. Multiple reporters at today’s morning skate report that Devils winger Brian Rolston, who has four goals, seven points, and a mysterious injury/illness, will not play.

3. History is conflicted on tonight’s outcome. The Devils have won five straight overall but haven’t beaten the Ducks in a regular-season game since 2002-03. On the other hand, the Ducks have won only twice in 11 visits to New Jersey, though one of those came in their last visit, a 2-1 win on Feb. 8, 2008. Check out the Devils’ Web site for more stats and subplots.