St. Louis gets a small measure of revenge on their home ice with a shutout over a snakebitten Devils team, who could not find an answer to the perfect play of Jaroslav Halak. This one drops the Devils’ record to 22-21-11 on the season.
- Alex Steen
is having the season of a lifetime. Tonight he netted his 27th of the year on a wrister from Jaden Schwartz
and David Backes
in the first. As it would turn out, that goal was also the game winner.
- The dominant Blues power play that the Devils stoned last time came through in a big way tonight, with Brendan Morrow deflecting a shot from Jay Bouwmeester to break the Devils midway through the third period. On the other side of the ice, the Devils went 0/4 on their power play opportunities.
- With all the talk of Corey Schneider’s play coming into tonight, (which was still fantastic, even in a loss) it was Jaroslav Halak who who made a very strong push to be his team’s starter tonight with a 23 save shutout.
After crashing back down to Earth in the Bronx on Sunday, New Jersey took another hit via a shutout loss to the St. Louis Blues.
On Tuesday night, the Devils were left flustered, frustrated, and finally — for five periods and counting — scoreless. The Blues brought everything they had for their rematch with the Devils. Unlike the fatigued team that showed up in Newark to play on January 21, tonight St. Louis was fast and physical, and showed why they are considered among the league’s elite teams. The Blues didn’t overwhelm the Devils. For the most part the game was 1-0 until a deflected power play goal and an empty-netter changed the look of the scoresheet. Yet, somehow, the game was never really in doubt for St. Louis. The stat lines were pretty even, and might have even favored New Jersey. But, in the end, St. Louis played relentless coverage against their top scorers, pushed the Devils to the outside, and made sure that the vast majority of the Devils chances were no real threat.
For the Devils, it was a game that they’ll have trouble seeing the bright side of. Corey Schneider put together one of those games that he’s starting to become known for, but, true to their own reputation, the Devils offense failed to hold up their end of the bargain. This was more to the credit of the Blues. Whenever Jaromir Jagr got the puck, Barret Jackman was all over him, taking him off his game. The same could be said of Patrik Elias, Ryan Clowe, Ryan Carter, Michael Ryder and plenty others. While they didn’t necessarily play poorly, they were constantly prevented from hitting the top of their games. Every shot was contested, and every pass had two men in the way.
New Jersey’s defense, despite what the final score might have you think, played fairly well. They held the Blues to two very difficult goals, the empty-netter aside, and made sure that the team was in the game all the way. Eric Gelinas and Andy Greene played their part in the offensive zone, and, in general, the D did what they could to help push the team up the ice. In terms of intensity, however, they failed to match what St. Louis brought to the table. The Devils shooters had to work for every opportunity they had against Halak, and usually got a little roughed up for their trouble. The Blues, on the other hand, seemed to have plenty of time to work with against a very cautious Devils’ team. This is something that they must change if they want to right the ship Thursday in Dallas.
In their final game before Sunday’s outdoor game at Yankee Stadium, the Devils got out to a lead and held on for a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals from Prudential Center. The win moves the Devils 22-19-11 on the season.
- The Devils got out to a 1-0 lead on a 2-on-1 goal by Stephen Gionta in the first period.
- In the second stanza, it was Adam Henrique who lit the lamp off of a beautiful feed from Jaromir Jagr.
- Playing without their superstar, Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals struggled to get sustained pressure on the Devils, though they did manage 31 shots on the evening.
- The difference on Friday night was Cory Schneider, who has been superb lately. The only blemish was a third period tally by Jason Chimera.
It might be freezing cold on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, but the Devils are starting to bring the heat at the right time.
Cory Schneider might not start on Sunday, nor is he a member of the 2014 US Olympic team, but his numbers are reaching an entirely different stratosphere. With the win, the former Boston College Eagle evened up his record at 9-9-7, while lowering his goals against average to a minuscule 1.84 and brought his save percentage to .928%.
Not to be overlooked is the play of the defense in front of him. Much maligned players in the offseason, Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador are bringing strength and grit to the lineup. Since Salvador’s return on December 28th, the team is 7-3-3.
While there are plenty of Salvador detractors, the captain has been a stabilizing force in the lineup. No. 24 is a plus-one since returning to the lineup.
The seven-goal outburst against the Blues is far from the norm. If this team hopes to make the playoffs, they’re going to have to win these kind of hard-fought 2-1 games. With the power play looking better of late and players like Ryane Clowe and Adam Henrique starting to sizzle, it’s going to come down to the ability to win one-goal games. Considering that the Devils do not have a regulation loss when leading after two periods, they are going to have to rely on that lock-down prowess during the stretch run.
This was a game that the Devils had to have and they got it done. Washington, who seemed like a lock at one point to make the playoffs out of the Metropolitan Division are suddenly struggling. For the Devils to take two points against the Caps without them gaining at least a point is a big plus.
With an assist on both goals, Jaromir Jagr moved into a tie for the 10th most assists in NHL history. He’s tied with former teammate Mario Lemieux, with 1,033 helpers.
Up next is the big one. The Devils will skate at noon from Yankee Stadium on Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Rangers. Speaking of the Rangers, with the Devils win against the Capitals, a regulation win by New Jersey would bring the Devils into a tie with New York at 57 points.
Every Devils-Rangers game is big, but with 40,000-plus watching and a two huge points in the standings at stake, this has the makings of a classic.
For the Devils, this matchup is coming at the right time, as the team has notched points in eight of their last nine games.
New Jersey earned an impressive win against an elite team in the St. Louis Blues. The Devs pulled out all the stops, finding a big reserve of goals for Cory, and treated the fans that braved the elements to a 7-1 victory. This win brings the Devils’ record to 21-19-11 on the season.
Normally a slow starting team, the Devils manufactured two goals in the first three minutes from Mark Fayne
and Ryan Carter
. Jaromir Jagr
would add one off the skate at the midway point to make it three in the first.
The dominant Blues power play was blanked on all three opportunities, while New Jersey caught fire and went 3/4.
In his first game back Damien Brunner was named the first star, wracking up a goal and a pair of assists in his return. Also earning 1G and 2A was Eric Gelinas.
Any chances that the Blues might have had for a comeback were snuffed out by Corey Schneider who stopped 26/27 shots from St. Louis.
What a night! And, what a response from a team that was pretty down on itself after last Saturday’s loss to Phoenix. Against the St. Louis Blues, the Devils showed what they can really do when they are healthy and this whole roster can take the ice.
Offensively, what can I really say that the seven-goal headline doesn’t? After the game at Phoenix, Coach Pete DeBoer voiced concerns about the team’s ability to score even strength goals, which only compounded the fears of fans who have long worried about the team’s struggles on the power play. Tonight was a great exhibition of both elements of their offensive game. With tallies from seven different skaters, three of them on the power play, it felt like New Jersey couldn’t be stopped, no matter who was shooting. Mark Fayne scored his first goal since November 29, Ryan Carter and Damien Brunner scored their first goals since coming back from their respective injuries, and the team’s recent top players, Jagr, Clowe, and Adam Henrique continue to produce. Add in multi-point nights from Eric Gelinas and Patrik Elias, and there’s a lot to be excited about following this effort.
There was some concern about Adam Henrique who left the game in the third period after being hit with a slap shot on his surgically repaired left thumb. Hopes are that this was just precautionary, as the game was already well out of St. Louis’ reach by the third. It should be noted that Henrique’s goal came after the injury occurred, so it didn’t seem to slow down his play too much. We’ll keep you updated with any information on his status whenever we get it.
A big part of tonight’s victory for New Jersey was receiving contributions from all four lines, which coach DeBoer admitted after the game is a team goal. But, it wasn’t just the tallies on the scoring sheet that had the team’s manager so excited. He made a point to mention that there were big contributions down the line on both ends of the ice. The Devils laid down to block 14 shots for their goaltender, as opposed to St. Louis’ four. And in the first two periods, before the game was out of hand, the Devils’ suffocating defensive play held the Blues to a mere 13 shots on goal. This was a complete reversal from the 25 SOG they allowed Phoenix in the same amount of time.
With Schneider putting together another stellar performance, turning away 26 out of 27 shots, it’s hard to think of a single aspect of the Devils’ game that didn’t click tonight. That’s not to say that all their woes are behind them. There are still questions to be answered, acquisitions to be made, and a few too many streaky scorers to ever be completely comfortable. What this night was, was great sign of things going forward. When the Devils can play the four-line game that Pete DeBoer wants, and can showcase that depth that had everyone so excited before the season, they are a different team, and a strong threat to make a run for a playoff spot in the tightly contested Metropolitan division.
New Jersey finished their four game road trip with a visit to Phoenix, and the Jobing.com Arena for a tough matchup with the Coyotes. The Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur struggled early and couldn’t quite complete the comeback, as they fell 3-2. This loss drops the Devils’ record to 20-19-11 on the season.
- The Coyotes struck first with a quick wrist shot from Jordan Szwarz at 2:35 into the first period.
- Another 4th liner found the back of the net for Phoenix. Jeff Halpern beat Brodeur high to the glove side at 13:13 to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.
- Ryan Clowe scored a power play goal off the rebound at 18:44. The goal was Clowe’s second of the season, and his eighth point in his last seven games.
- Phoenix finally broke through the Devils’ PK on their third attempt as Martin Hanzal poked the puck free of Brodeur’s grasp and into the net at 14:22 in the second.
- With the goalie pulled, Jaromir Jagr redirected a Ryan Clowe pass past Mike Smith at 17:46 in the third to bring the Devils within one.
Tonight was an example of what happens when the vaunted Devils’ defensive game isn’t at the top of its game, and it’s not pretty. Two soft goals let in by Martin Brodeur and some sloppy defense all-around lead to an easy 2-0 lead from which the Devils never really recovered. The Devils were thoroughly outplayed and outright pushed around in the first, as they were outhit by Phoenix 17-4. Had it not been for a couple big saves from Brodeur and a late PP goal from Ryan Clowe, this game could have gotten out of hand quickly.
The rest of the game was actually pretty solid for the Devils. Brodeur found his game and stood on his head to keep the Devils in it, and the Devils offense, Clowe and Jagr in particular, was all over Mike Smith with 34 shots and some legitimate scoring chances. The defense eventually found their game, holding the Coyotes to a mere two shots in the third period, but overall, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Coyotes who blocked 25 shots in front of Mike Smith and ensured that the Devils would not be able to complete yet another comeback.
This has to be particularly discouraging for the red and black, as their scoring woes continue. After the game, Coach Pete DeBoer expressed some pleasure with his team’s late effort, but admitted that an early deficit like tonight’s is something that the Devils can’t afford, saying “we can’t spot anybody two goals. That’s the bottom line”. Jaromir Jagr also showed great disappointment with tonight’s loss. When asked why the Devils have had such trouble scoring five on five, a visibly frustrated Jagr said, “maybe we’re just not good enough”, and when asked for his opinion about the road trip as a whole, 1-1-2 in those four games, Jagr replied, “it was a lot better before tonight”. With the Devils falling another two points behind Philly and the Rangers, both victorious earlier tonight, and the team having fewer goals scored than all but one other team in playoff contention, his frustrations are understandable.
On the brighter side for the Devils, there were two standout offensive performances, from Ryan Clowe and Jaromir Jagr, that the team can draw from going forward. Clowe continues to impress since returning to the lineup. His goal scoring drought seems to be a thing of the past, with two in four games. His overall point totals are even more impressive, as eight of his season total of 11 have come in his past seven games. While Clowe’s play was encouraging, Jagr’s is inspirational. #68, who now has 15 goals on the season, continues to lead by example on the ice, playing a strong and smart game that is just as deadly in the final seconds as it is in the first few minutes.
The New Jersey Devils dropped their record to 20-18-11 on Thursday night as they fell to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
The Devils fell to 0-8 in the shootout and 1-for-25 in shootout attempts as Adam Henrique
and Patrik Elias
were denied, as Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly beat Cory Schneider
The Devils have earned points in their last six games. They are 3-0-3 during that time.
Reid Boucher scored the lone goal for the Devils, his second career tally.
Put it on both sides. Yes, the Devils can’t score in the shootout, but the Devils goaltenders are getting burned just as equally. It’s not even worth going over at this point.
As far as the game, the first 40 minutes were tough to watch. Colorado’s speed was very apparent and when the Devils did have possession of the puck, the Avalanche defensemen did not hesitate and sit back at all. They beat up and bruised any Devil forward that had the puck below the harsh marks. It took the Devils a while to adjust but they finally found their game in the third period. 20 strong minutes earned them a point. That’s the sign of a team that’s coming along.
Devils fans shouldn’t sweat this that much. Colorado plays a West Conference style of offense that is tough to keep up with. They struggled with Chicago. They couldn’t keep pace in Los Angeles, despite a victory. They’ve played really well against the East this year and that’s the important note to keep in mind.
This team needs to still look at the bigger picture. If the Devils win on Saturday, they’ll take 6 out of 8 points for the road trip. That’s a darn good swing across the country. Elias will regain his old form and Damien Brunner is on the way back. Keep collecting points and avoid the long stretches of losses.
The New Jersey Devils defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 from Bell Centre on Tuesday night. The win brings the Devils record to 20-18-10 on the season.
- Montreal scored the first goal of the night on a Max Pacioretty tally.
- The Devils answered back on a goal by Jaromir Jagr, which put him past Mark Messier for the 7th most goals in NHL history with 695 goals scored.
- From there, it was almost all Devils, as Eric Gelinas and Adam Henrique scored second period goals.
- That would be all the Devils would need, as Martin Brodeur rebounded from a poor start to stop 29 of the 30 Montreal shots.
When Max Pacioretty ripped home an early first period goal high glove side on Martin Brodeur on a shot that should have been saved, it looked like it might be a long night for the New Jersey Devils.
How quickly things can change.
Timely goal scoring, stellar defense and an excellent performance by Brodeur paced the Devils to a 4-1 win in what was one of their best all-around road performances of the season.
Needing two goals to get back in it in the third period, the Devils defense suffocated the Canadiens to just six shots. The Devils haven’t had many multiple-goal leads this season, but they played with poise in the third to erase any chance of a comeback.
The defense playing up to par shouldn’t be a surprise, as they’ve done so throughout the season. With timely goal scoring, it makes the job of the defense and goaltending that much easier and there were more than enough goals tonight.
Jaromir Jagr, who scored his first goal in 10 games, bulldozed his way to the net en route to the their first goal of the night. It was the type of play that only someone like Jagr could make. With the game tied up heading into the second, New Jersey exploded for two goals in the second stanza to blow the game wide open.
Eric Gelinas reminded everyone of his offensive potential when he ripped a bomb of a shot past Carey Price to give the Devils the 2-1 lead. Despite his struggles in his own end, his presence alone makes the power play more dangerous. Sure, he’s going to have some moments where he’s in over his head defensively, but there is no one on this roster who can shoot the puck like he does.
Adam Henrique continued to impress, notching his 12th goal of the season. Any thoughts that Henrique was a product of Zach Parise, etc are no longer valid. Henrique is carving a niche for himself in his third NHL season and playing with Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder has allowed him to excel. The man who scored the most recent historic goal in Devils history might not ever be a 40-goal scorer, but he’s now showing that he has the ability to score 20-plus.
As for Clowe, he’s beginning to show some of the playmaking ability that led to his signing in the offseason. In 10 games since returning from injury, the former Shark and Ranger has eight points (one goal, seven assists). Together, the line of Henrique, Ryder and Clowe has been a welcomed source of offense for a team that has struggled to score.
Moving forward, this team has to be feeling good about where they are. With Patrik Elias and Damien Brunner still to return to the lineup, the Devils not only got to two games over NHL .500 for the first time this season, but reinserted themselves right back into the playoff mix.
As of Tuesday night, the Devils have 50 points and are just two points out of second place in the Metropolitan Division. They also sit just one point out of the wildcard spot, behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers who round out the top-eight with 51 points each.
Next up for the Devils is another tough road test, as the Devils take on the Colorado Avalanche from Denver on Thursday, looking to bring their points streak to five games.
The New Jersey Devils bounced back tonight with an important, shutout win over a struggling Dallas Stars team at the Prudential Center. This one pushes the Devils’ record to 18-18-9 on the season.
- Michael Ryder made the most of a perfect play and pass from Travis Zajac, snapping it past Kari Lehtonen to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead midway through the second. This was Ryder’s 15th goal of the season, and his third straight game lighting the lamp.
- Corey Schneider stops all 26 for his 3rd shutout of the season. This was the first time all-year that Dallas had been held scoreless.
New Jersey snapped their skid, coming out ahead in a low-scoring duel between two struggling teams. With talks of the playoffs beginning to gain more traction, both the Devils and the Stars came in desperate to tally a “W”. Dallas arrived at the Prudential Center as the losers of three-straight allowing a total of 18 goals across those defeats. The Devs weren’t looking much better, having blown two-straight leads before tonight, and losing a total of three in-a-row themselves.
As we’ve seen so many times this season, it was the stoppers for the Devils that lead them to the victory. Between netminder Corey Schneider stopping 26 shots and the exceptional play of the defenders in front who blocked another 18, the Stars were kept off the scoreboard for the first time this year. Tonight was a big test for the New Jersey defense, facing some dynamic, young scorers in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. After stumbling in their last three efforts, the Devils rose to the challenge Dallas provided, even strength and on the penalty kill.
There wasn’t much offense to speak of from New Jersey tonight, but all the credit for that goes to Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen. The Devils created more than their share of offense, firing 34 shots on net. Mike Sislo showed surprising speed, and Adam Henrique continues to impress. But, tonight the offensive stars were Travis Zajac and the red-hot Michael Ryder. Travis Zajac is showing exactly why the Devils have so much faith in him as their number one center. Tonight he was a rock, playing the Stars strong at both ends of the ice, and keeping the puck in attacking zone. This effort turned out to be the key to the game, as Zajac protected the puck and made enough room for a perfect pass to, and shot from, Michael Ryder. Since coming together with Adam Henrique, and now Ryan Clowe, Michael Ryder has been electric with points in all but one of those games, and goals in the last three. Tonight though, it was Zajac, and not Henrique, that set Ryder up to continue his impressive play.
New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks – 8:00 pm
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: MSG+ 2 Radio: WCBS 880-AM
Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Mattias Tedenby – Patrik Elias – Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Jacob Josefson – Stephen Gionta – Cam Janssen
Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Eric Gelinas – Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov – Jon Merrill
Goaltender: Cory Schneider
Some thoughts on tonight’s game:
1. The element of surprise? These two teams haven’t squared off since late March of 2012 and the Blackhawks haven’t beaten the Devils since April 2, 2010. Unfortunately for the Devils, that Hawks are 9-1-2 against the East this season. However, maybe that number begins to even out over the course of the year?
2. Huge advantage if the Devils are on the PP. As unbelievable as the Blackhawks are this season, they do have one big flaw; their penalty kill at the United Center. They are dead last in the league at 72.7 percent. This is not the case of a small sample size; their road PK is under 78 percent. For whatever reason, the Devils power play on the road is miles better than it is at home. Away from the Pru, they are connecting at a 23.4 percent rate, good enough for 4th in the league. Maybe they’re more focused, there’s less pressure, or something else, but whatever it is, that’s one major area where the Devils have a leg up on the Hawks.
3. Need success from bottom two lines. The Top-6 of the Hawks is ridiculous. You know the names…Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Shaw, Saad. Now, the Devils top two lines will have their share of scoring chances but it’s hard to imagine them dictating the pace of play when those quality players are on the ice. Therefore, the Adam Henrique line and the Stephen Gionta line need to outplay their opposition on a high majority of their shifts. If they can produce some chances and maybe even some goals, that would go a long way in getting the the Devils a victory.
Prediction – Blackhawks 4 Devils 2
I do think the Devils will be up for this game and will stick with them. I see it as a pretty closely played contest with Chicago potting an empty netter at the end, in turn, making the game look a little bit more one-sided. If the Devils got any amount of points tonight, I think that would be considered a good evening.
Enjoy the game, everyone.
The New Jersey Devils came to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. and fought off an offensive onslaught as they rallied back to beat the Capitals 5-4. This one pushes the Devils’ record to 15-15-7 on the season.
- Marek Zidlicky with a first period, power play goal that came together after some great puck movement from Andy Greene, Jaromir Jagr, and the rest of the power play line. That’s Zidlicky’s 4th of the season, all of them coming on the power play
- Jason Chimera scored at the midway point of period number 2 on a rebound off his own wrap-around to tie the game at 1.
- Mikhail Grabovski was left all-alone behind the Devils’ D to pop in the go ahead goal, his 10th goal of the season, off a nice pass from Eric Fehr.
- Joel Ward found his own rebound just before the end of the 2nd period off of a Mike Green slap shot to net his 11th of the year, and the Caps’ 3rd of the night.
- Jaromir Jagr netted a power play goal from Greene and Patrik Elias to breathe a little bit of life back into the Devs. This ties him with Mark Messier at 694 career goals, and counting.
- Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps took advantage of a turnover by Elias and took a little bit of wind out of the Devils sails making it a 4-2 game.
- Marek Zidlicky responded on a great feed from Travis Zajac, netting his second of the night, and his first even-strength goal of the year.
-Dainius Zubrus got the tip off another beautiful pass by Travis Zajac. New Jersey rallied back from the brink to tie it up at four.
- Andy Greene sealed the comeback victory after he chipped in a rebound off a shot by Jaromir Jagr.
The Devils gave their fans another collective heart-attack tonight. The Devils were winded and hurting, playing their third game in 4 days, and it almost came back to bite them. But, it was all worth it, as the comeback kids scored 3 unanswered goals to beat take down Washington and bring themselves to NHL .500.
We’ve talked a lot about the impressive youth movement that is exciting the fans in New Jersey, with the likes of Eric Gelinas and Reid Boucher playing important roles in the Devils’ starting lineup. Tonight was no different, the younger players looked good and hustled hard. But tonight was all about the vets. With goals from Zidlicky, Jagr and Zubrus, and Greene, the only man on the New Jersey scoresheet younger than 30 was Travis Zajac. Jagr, Elias, Greene, and Zajac also each had a pair of assists, meaning that every player on the Devils’ side of the scoresheet had a multi-point night.
And what more can be said about Jaromir Jagr? The man never ceases to amaze, playing like a number one forward at age 41, and making everyone around him better. Tonight #68 continued his climb towards history as he recorded his 694th NHL, regular season goal. This tied him with former Rangers teammate , Mark Messier, for 7th all time.
And, even on a night where they gave up 4 goals, there is something to be said for the Devils’ defense. Only a few games removed from fighting off top scoring tandems of Crosby and Malkin, and Getzlaf and Perry, tonight the Devils were faced with the task of holding off offensive superstars, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin, and hold them off they did. Backstrom, the league leader in assists coming into the game, was completely absent, and Ovechkin, was a non-factor until a Patrik Elias turnover in the zone gave the league’s top-scorer an open shot at Martin Brodeur.
It wasn’t a perfect effort, not by any means. I’m sure a fair amount of people were ready to give up after the second period. But in the end, they worked hard and earned themselves the 2 points that they desperately needed. Now they’re sitting at third in a very shaky division and starting to show that they’re a team that can do some damage going forward.
The New Jersey Devils rallied to put together a decent effort, but could not overcome early mistakes as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA., by the score of 3-2. This one pushes the Devils’ record to 12-15-6 on the season.
- Pascal Dupuis got the final touch as he and Chris Kunitz rushed Corey Schneider who thought he had the puck covered. A mental lapse from the goaltender and the defense that should have been back supporting him put the Devils on the wrong-end of their earliest deficit on the season.
- Chris Conner scored off of a pretty pass from Brandon Sutter and a pretty awful defensive breakdown by both Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill.
- Jason Megna put the exclamation point on an awful period from the Devils with a wrist shot goal at 14:40 to put the Pens up 3-0 going into the first intermission.
- Patrik Elias brought the New Jersey back to life with a beautiful redirection of an Anton Volchenkov pass from the side boards to give the Devils their first goal at 3:24 into the second.
- Dainius Zubrus poked in goal number 2, less than a minute after the first, pushing a Jaromir Jagr shot across the line.
With the loss to Columbus still fresh in their minds, fans of the New Jersey Devils were hoping for the team to come out angry and looking to make up for lost points. What they got, however, was a mistake-ladened team that got overwhelmed all-too quickly, and almost let the game slip away without a fight.
The first period was one of the worst in recent memory. It only took 41 seconds to get this game going in the wrong direction for the Devils as Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz came barreling down on a loose puck that Corey Schneider thought he had covered up. A big mental mistake by Schneider, but even more so from the defense that let two Penguins come in unimpeded to take their shots at the Jersey goaltender.
Things would only get worse for the Jersey defense in the first, in particular their rookie defensemen, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas. After Merrill mishandled an easy pass from Gelinas, turning it over to the Penguins, Eric Gelinas made a rookie mistake and left his post to cover for Merrill along the boards, leaving Conner open to score his second goal of the season, one-on-one over Schneider. Shortly after this, the Gelinas – Merrill pairing was separated. Jason Megna’s somewhat controversial goal towards the end of the third, his fourth of the season, the Devils headed down the tunnel for the first intermission with their heads hanging.
In the second period, however, things got turned upside-down. The Devils didn’t just play better, they thoroughly dominated the class of the Metro division, outshooting the Penguins 32-11, and outscoring them 2-0. All of the momentum was on the side of the Red and Black for the final 40 of the game, and had it not been for a few posts in their way, we could be talking about a different outcome here. But in the end, unfortunately for the Devils’ Army, New Jersey couldn’t find any more than those two quick second period goals, and dropped their second straight game.
In a rare turn, especially considering that we’re talking about a losing effort, the bright spots for the Devils came from the offense tonight. Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, and Travis Zajac played superb games for the Devils at both ends of the ice, as did tonight’s fourth line of Jacob Josefson, Tim Sestito, and Cam Janssen. Three players in particular who had great games out there for New Jersey, but were left with nothing to show for it, were Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier and Damien Brunner. Brunner continued trending upward while playing alongside Elias, and was robbed of his third goal in his last two games by a fantastic save from Marc-Andre Fleury, a feeling that Steve Bernier can relate to tonight.
Henrique, on the other hand, beat Pittsbrugh’s goaltender to the glove side with a chance to tie the game, but couldn’t best the post. A similar situation occurred in the closing seconds of the game, but that time Henrique’s backhander sailed wide. It’s unfortunate that all that Adam Henrique can take away from this game are a couple of missed opportunities and a costly penalty for playing with a broken stick, because he had a good game tonight.
The defense didn’t have their best game tonight, although they weren’t terrible. In a game where defensive mistakes cost New Jersey at least 2, and maybe all three, goals, they were scored by Dupuis, Conner, and Megna. Pittsburgh’s high-scoring superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were shut down by the Devils’ D. Between them, the league’s top scorers managed just 2 shots and a lone secondary assist, which Crosby collected on Pittsburgh’s first, fluky goal.
In the crease, another good night by Schneider will be marred by the first goal. After all, defense or no, if he just drops his pad down on the ice, the whole thing never happens. After that he played about as well as any goalie could under the circumstances only surrendering the other goals on a bad breakaway and after some contact in the crease from Megna lead to a bad rebound and a goal. But tonight, regardless of how well Corey played, Marc-Andre Fleury was the star between the pipes.
Fleury has had a bad reputation in the years since the Penguins’ cup victory, and even briefly lost his job to veteran Tomáš Vokoun. But, he has responded with a grit that many didn’t know he had, and he showed that tonight. His 37 saves on the Devils 39 shots, especially those against Brunner and Bernier, were what kept Pittsburgh from giving this game away.