Final Score: Devils 4, Ducks 3 OT

The New Jersey Devils rallied in the third period and beat the Anaheim Ducks in overtime by a 4-3 mark at Honda Center on Wednesday night.  The Devils are now 8-8-5 on the season.

The Least You Should Know:

- Jaromir Jagr scored with 1:09 to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.

- The man who helped create Jagr’s goal, Travis Zajac, scored the game winner in overtime at 1:58.

- The Devils are back to .500 on the season and moved into a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Jeff OConnor

Wow.  Who saw that coming?  The Devils trailed after 40 minutes by a 3-2 score.  They dominated and had the first nine or 10 shots of the third period.  It felt like a bad Ducks goal was coming, but it never did.Zajac worried

Zajac deserves a TON of credit for keeping the puck in the zone on that tying goal.  An errant drop pass was labeled to be cleared out to the neutral zone, and perhaps an empty netter to end the game.  Instead, the puck comes behind the net, the Devils grind it and a feed in front was buried by Jagr.

Then the team finally got a bounce in overtime.  Dainius Zubrus hustled up the right side in an odd-man rush with Zajac, who was trying to catch up with him and go to the net.  Zubrus threw it at Zajac who could only kick it towards net.  The Ducks, without caution, tried to whip it out of the zone quickly but it winded up going off Corey Perry’s leg into the vacated net.

It’s easy to forget about the job done by Martin Brodeur.  He was brilliant once again.  The first goal from Matt Beleskey I’m sure he would like to have back but the tallies from Nick Bonino and Ryan Getzlaf he had no prayer on.   The save on Matthieu Perreault in overtime before the Zajac winner won’t soon be forgotten by anyone who’s a fan of the sport.  That glove save by Marty will be replayed on highlight reels…well, forever.

This team is starting to find a more consistent rhythm in the goal-scoring department.  The goaltending has been as rock solid as was thought to be before the season and the team only gave up one goal at even strength.  They are brimming with confidence and that’s needed as they face some high-quality teams this week.  The next two contests will be a great barometer and litmus test for this club to see where they stack up against true Stanley Cup contenders.

The fun continues in less than 24 hours.  The Kings are next, coming up later on tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Pregame Primer: Game Twenty One – Devils at Ducks

New Jersey Devils vs Anaheim Ducks – 10 pm

Honda Center – Anaheim, California

TV: MSG+  Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am

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After a lengthy break in between games, the Devils are finally back in action against the Anaheim Ducks. This road trip is no easy task for New Jersey, as they’ll take on three of the best teams in not just the Western Conference, but in the entire league. Anaheim enters tonight tied for the most points (32) with Chicago. Los Angeles and San Jose aren’t far behind, as they’re both tied with 31 points.

Though this road trip will be a daunting task, this might be the perfect time for the Devils to take their game out west. In their last six games, the Devils are 4-1-1, with their only regulation loss coming at the hands of Ben Scrivens and the Kings, by way of a 2-0 decision at Prudential Center.

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:  

1. Contain Anaheim’s speed. Welcome to Western Conference hockey. The Ducks feature speed upon speed in their lineup and will pounce on any mistakes and turn it into a goal. They’re currently tied for third in the NHL in goals scored with 72. Corey Perry (12g, 12a) and Ryan Getzlaf (11g, 13a) have been virtually unstoppable. For the Devils to have any success, they’ll have to slow down their attack. If the Devils can establish the forecheck, it’ll go a long way towards doing that.

2. What else about the Ducks? Anaheim is 8-0-0 at home. That either spells disaster for the Devils, or something has to give at some point. Whatever the case may be, this is a steep task for the red and black. If there is one area where the Ducks falter, it’s on special teams. Their power play is surprisingly ineffective at just 11.5%, good for 26th in the league. Their penalty kill isn’t much better, as their 76.4% is 27th in the league. If there is a chink in the Ducks armor, (feathers?) it would be that they do give up power play goals. The Devils will need to use every man-advantage well tonight.

3. Defense, more vintage Marty, will be key. Down to only six healthy bodies, the defense for tonight will be Marek Zidlicky, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Eric Gelinas and Peter Harrold. This will be a tough assignment for that group. The Devils will need another strong performance from Martin Brodeur, in a game where he is going to face a lot of shots.

Prediction – Ducks 3, Devils 2 (SO)

Though the Devils have struggled some when they’ve had a few days in between games, they’ll come out hard in this one. The Ducks lost to the Penguins 3-1 in their last game against an Eastern Conference foe. For the Devils, it’s simple. They have to establish the forecheck and play a gritty game. If they find themselves in a wide-open up and down the ice sort of game, they’ll be in trouble. The game will go back and forth, with the Devils scoring a late goal to tie it, but ultimately falling in the shootout.

Buzz: Should Devils Chase Bobby Ryan?

The Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the postseason, which means we can all start speculating about whether winger Bobby Ryan will be traded this summer. The Ducks have devoted a lot of cap space to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and there might not be enough left to keep Ryan, who is due to count $5.1 million against the cap for each of the next two seasons (per Cap Geek).

If a 30-goal scorer is on the trade market, you would think Lou Lamoriello and the Devils would be interested. Todd Cordell of Hockey Buzz posed the question, speculated about Anaheim’s asking price and then answered it rather definitively.

Via Hockey Buzz:

His points per game average was down a bit from his standards this season but he still had more even strength goals and points than every player on the Devils, so clearly he’d be a welcome addition.

Now about the cost. What would it be? I’m guessing the Devils would have to include one of Eric Gelinas / Alex Urbom / Jon Merrill as well as another forward prospect (likely Stefan Matteau or Reid Boucher), an NHL center off of their roster and potentially the 9th overall pick (depending on the prospects/center they offer).

A steep price, indeed, but you don’t get young perennial 30 goal scorers without giving up a lot. You have to give to get, they say.

Whether Ryan ends up a Devil or not, Devils GM, Lou Lamoriello, must make some calls and try to get his hands on Ryan. Lamoriello has said you look at every opportunity to improve your roster. Well, an opportunity is sitting right in front of you.

Corey Griffin

Cordell’s argument is a fair one. The Devils don’t have a lot of players with the offensive game that Ryan possesses and 30-goal scorers are increasingly rare commodities. I don’t disagree that Lamoriello should (and probably will) make a call to Ducks GM Bob Murray if indeed Ryan is available. Even if the Devils retain David Clarkson and Patrik Elias, we saw this season that’s not enough. If Clarkson leaves, Ryan would be a much better offensive replacement and likely at a similar cost value given what Clarkson could get on the open market. Ryan would give the Devils an instant 1-2 punch on the right side with Ilya Kovalchuk and could prove to be an incredibly dangerous winger playing alongside Adam Henrique or perhaps even be a new bestie for the sullen Travis Zajac. The idea, in theory, sounds like a no-brainer.

But you lose me at the cost. As we saw this season, the Devils have minimal depth both at the NHL level and throughout the organization. Sacrificing one of your top defensive prospects along with your top offensive prospect, a current NHL center and potentially the No. 9 overall pick in a talent-rich draft is way too much for a franchise like the Devils to give up. Lamoriello needs to keep adding to the prospects and the talent base, not subtract from it. I understand the idea of adding a talent like a Ryan (a N.J. kid, no less) is absolutely tantalizing. Some of you might say that trading unproven talent for proven skill is always worth it — and a lot of times I would agree with you. But I worry about this team beyond next season or the year after that. There has to be a talent pipeline once more and a trade for Ryan might very well gut it of most of the top-level players.

While I appreciate the idea and think Ryan could be a very helpful addition, I just think it’s a short-sighted move meant to capitalize on what’s left of Martin Brodeur’s career. The Devils need to build for next year and what happens after Marty retired, not one or the other. What do you think?

Around the Links: Daylight Savings edition

  • Another road loss Saturday for New Jersey– its fifth straight defeat away from Prudential Center. Here are your slew of links from the Devils’ 6-3 loss to Carolina (NorthJersey.com) (NJ.com) (AP) (NHL.com)
  • Devils goalie Johan Hedberg surrendered five goals on just 18 shots and was pulled for the second time in three games. Even still, Devils coach Pete DeBoer announced Hedberg will start AGAIN Sunday night against Winnipeg. (Fire & Ice)
  • The Hockey Night in Canada insiders discussed visors, GM meetings and Corey Perry in another excellent Hotstove segment. (CBC.ca)

Final: Devils 3 Ducks 2

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Scoring Summary:
First Period- None
Second Period- Henrique (15) and Ponikarovsky (10) and Perry (29)
Third Period- Brookbank (1)
Devils win shoot out 2-1

Next Game: 2/19 at Montreal Canadiens 6:00 pm.

Zach Parise Postgame:
“thought it was going to be a goal. They called it a goal on the ice. We usually don’t get the calls from there (situation room).”

Pete DeBoer Postgame:
“(Brodeur) was our best player. I don’t know who was our second best, but he was by far our best.” Brodeur made 36 saves.”

Team Stats:
Devils outdrew the Ducks 29-22
Ducks outshot the Devils 38-27
Devils went 0 for 1 on the power play.
Devils outhit the Ducks 27-20

Player Stats:

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The Devils were able to play extremely well when they needed to against a very hot Ducks team. The penalty kill was really strong and aggressive, giving the Ducks nothing on the power play. Brodeur was playing out of his mind and kept the Devils in the game. The only thing that worried me was the fact that the Devils couldn’t convert on some nice chances but a great overall effort. Alexei Ponikarovsky is fitting in very well, I really want to see him in a Devils’ uniform next season.

Breaking: Devils Get Foster and Pielmeier From Ducks Via Trade

The Devils have sent Rod Pelley, Mark Fraser and a 7th Round Pick to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Kurtis Foster and goaltender Timo Pielmeier.

This is an upgrade for the Devils on defense and gives them a right handed shot from the point on the power play thanks to Foster. So far this season Foster has 1 goal and 1 assist in 9 games this season with the Ducks. Hopefully he can contribute more with the Devils. He is expected to join the team in Florida tomorrow.

Pielmeier is expected to go down to one of the Devils’ farm teams. He was playing in the ECHL with the Elmira Jackals. We shall see where he lands exactly soon.