A week ago, the Devils were reeling, having absorbed a sound beating from the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

Now, they are thriving, winners of three straight — all in impressive fashion — just as Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins come to town for the first of a home-and-home series.

“It will be a big challenge,” right wing Ilya Kovalchuk said. “We’re one point away from them. We’re confident the way we’re playing.”

In this recent upswing, the Devils (6-1-3), who trail the Penguins (8-3-0) 16-15 in points, have allowed just three goals. Their penalty kill has been at its stingy best. The Devils have killed off the opposition’s last 19 power plays, including all four of the Lightning’s chances on the man advantage in Thursday’s 4-2 victory, in which Martin Brodeur made 17 saves on 19 shots.