The Devils scored early and often, en-route to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators from Prudential Center. The win moves their record to 14-15-6 on the season.
- With his second period goal, Jaromir Jagr passed Steve Yzerman, scoring the 693rd goal of his NHL career. He now sits just one behind Mark Messier for seventh all time.
- Reid Boucher notched the first goal of his NHL career, after he scored off of a bounce off the boards on a shot by Eric Gelinas. Boucher has three points since being called up to New Jersey.
- Speaking of Gelinas, he had a two point night, as the rookie defenseman scored in the third period on a great glove side top-shelf shot from in close.
- In his first game back from injury, Stephen Gionta scored a shorthanded goal that got things going on a strong night for the offense.
It was a big night for the Devils promising young players.
Those old guys weren’t so bad either.
The Devils got out to a 3-0 lead and never really looked back, notching their second-straight home win in what was on of their best all-around offensive performances of the season.
It was a night for records and firsts, as well. With his second period goal, Jaromir Jagr became not only the stand-alone eighth highest scorer in NHL history, but he also grabbed sole possession of another great record. His goal, which was the eventual game winning goal, gave him 122 game winning goals for his career, as he passed Gordie Howe for that honor. Jagr moved beyond Steve Yzerman with his 693rd goal and stands just one behind Mark Messier for seventh all time.
On one end, it was another milestone for a decorated career and a great beginning for another.
Reid Boucher notched his first NHL goal after he followed up a miss off the boards by Eric Gelinas. For Boucher, his first NHL tally was the result of his hard work and solid play since he was called up.
“I like a lot of things about him, he wins a lot of battles, he’s stronger and faster than he looks and he creates offense for himself and other people on the ice. He has instincts you can’t teach,” said Pete DeBoer of the 20-year-old winger.
Aside from the goals and records, the biggest takeaway from tonight’s game was the Devils ability to answer. When Ottawa made it 3-1, Damien Brunner answered. When the Senators fought back to 4-2, it was Gelinas lighting the lamp for the fourth time this season. The Devils did well to eliminate any chance of a comeback from the Sens by keeping the distance.
There was a lot to like from their performance and they’re playing strong hockey at an opportune time. The Devils play a back-to-back that features a home game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, followed by their first tilt against the division rival Washington Capitals, who currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
It was their second dominating win in as many games, but there is still a lot of work to do. Despite the two wins, the Devils are still a game under NHL .500 at 14-15-6. With a couple of strong performances this weekend, New Jersey can re-insert themselves right back into the mix in the Metropolitan Division.
New Jersey Devils vs. Ottawa Senators – 7:30 pm
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 660-AM, 101.9-FM
In their first meeting of the season, the Ottawa Senators hung a five-spot on the New Jersey Devils up in Ottawa back in October. Their second matchup will be at The Rock this evening. The Sens come in having split their last six games while the Devils have lost five of their last seven.
Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique – Patrik Elias – Damien Brunner
Reid Boucher – Andrei Loktionov – Michael Ryder
Steve Bernier – Stephen Gionta – Cam Janssen
Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Eric Gelinas – Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov – Jon Merrill
Goaltender: Martin Brodeur
Some thoughts on tonight’s game:
1. Different team, different result. Please don’t take any stock into the last matchup between these two teams. If you remember, that was rock bottom for the Devils the first few weeks into the season. That was their seventh straight loss before they came home to beat the Rangers for their first triumph of the season. That loss came in a game where the Devils were still learning to play with each other. Now, does this mean an automatic win for the Devils? Of course not. However, it should be a much, much tighter contest.
2. Much like Tampa’s D, Ottawa’s is bad. We saw firsthand how bad Tampa’s defense was this past weekend. This Ottawa D-corps is awful too. They allow the third-most shots in the league as well as allowing the fourth-most amount of goals. Their penalty kill is under 80 percent. Their goaltender tonight, Robin Lehner, has been pretty strong. He’s stopped 93 percent of pucks shot his way this year. If the effort is there from the Devils, they should be able to slip a few by him.
3. Will secondary scoring continue? It has been an absolute delight to watch players like Dainius Zubrus, Michael Ryder and Damien Brunner play big roles in the scoring department of late. Without superstars, the Devils need to be able to get scoring from all parts. Now, is this streak sustainable? Probably not. But as long they don’t go on big point droughts, that will go a long way in getting the Devils back to the postseason.
Prediction: Devils 3, Senators 2
I hope you all enjoyed that “kick back and relax” third period against Tampa on Saturday because I don’t think we are going to see one of those again for a long while. We all know the Devils aren’t really cut out for easy victories, so that’s what it will be tonight; a grind. Also, bold prediction: Reid Boucher gets his first NHL goal tonight.
Enjoy the game, everyone.
Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 30…
1988- Kirk Muller scores 14 seconds into the game, and John MacLean’s third-period redirection serves as the game-winning goal in New Jersey’s 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in game 7 of the Patrick Division finals at the Cap Center.
New Jersey’s win clinches the franchise’s first trip to the Prince of Wales Finals against the Boston Bruins.
1998- Brian Rolston, Doug Gilmour and Lyle Odelein each pot goals, as New Jersey staves off elimination with a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Continental Airlines Arena.
2003- Scott Gomez records a goal and an assist, and Scott Stevens scores a goal just two days after being hit in the head with a slap shot, as the Devils pull within one game of the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 28…
2001- After losing game one, the Devils blow a 5-1 third-period lead in game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Randy McKay’s goal at 5:30 of the first overtime lifts New Jersey to a 6-5 win over the Leafs, evening their best-of-seven series at 1.
For those who don’t remember:
2003- New Jersey falls behind against the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 after one period but rallies to tie the game at three with three second-period goals.
But Dave Andreychuk’s third-period goal lifts the Lightning to a 4-3 win, cutting New Jersey’s series lead to 2-1. Game 3 is more memorable because Devils defenseman Scott Stevens was injured after being hit in the head by a Pavel Kubina slap shot. Stevens left the game but returned in game 4.
2007- Jamie Langenbrunner’s goal at 1:55 of the second overtime lifts New Jersey to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, evening the series at 1.
That win was the Devils’ final victory at the Continental Airlines Arena.
2009- Despite clinging to a one-goal lead late in the third, New Jersey surrenders two goals in the final 1:20– just 48 seconds apart– as the Carolina Hurricanes claimed game 7 4-3, claiming the best-of-seven series by the same margin.
No clips necessary. I’m sure we all remember that one.
The New York Rangers looked like they had something to play for on Saturday afternoon.
The Devils did not.
New Jersey ended its disappointing campaign with a flat, uninspired effort in a 4-0 loss to New York at Madison Square Garden.
Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan each recorded a goal and an assist, Rick Nash scored twice, and Brad Richards had two assists as New York finished its regular season 26-18-4.
The Rangers locked up at least the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs and can finish sixth if the Ottawa Senators lose their remaining two games– or if Ottawa finishes 1-1.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 20 shots he faced.
Johan Hedberg stopped 17 shots. The Devils finished their lockout-shortened 48-game campaign with 48 points– a perfectly-mediocre 19-19-10.
While the whole team looked disinterested, the Devils defense looked downright egregious.
Peter Harrold and Andy Greene were the Devils’ only two Even ‘D’ and both took penalties.
Adam Larsson and Marek Zidlicky were both minus-2 — Larsson could’ve gotten a secondary assist on Nash’s first goal. Meanwhile, Zidlicky was caught flatfooted on several occasions and made a weak pass that Stepan easily stole and dished to Callahan on his shorthanded goal late in the first.
Zidlicky will be an unrestricted-free agent at season’s end, and I’d be stunned if he returns. He was minus-10 and was essentially the posterchild for New Jersey’s defensive woes this year.
Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t much better, finishing a minus-2 and only earning two shots. Kovalchuk was caught watching on Nash’s second goal, failing to backcheck or do anything more than stare as Nash beat Hedberg.
Hedberg’s left pad was Nash’s top foil.
The dynamic winger could’ve had at least four goals– even five– but Hedberg’s pad stymied five of Nash’s game-high seven shots.
Hedberg’s left pad was good in New Jersey’s win Thursday, and he performed admirably in place of Martin Brodeur.
Still, Brodeur was still not immune from MSG ridicule. The Garden’s fans peppered him with “We want Marty” and “Mar-ty” song chants.
Brodeur hadn’t sat an entire game on the bench at MSG in almost 20 years.
New Jersey’s penalty kill was about its only bright spot Saturday.
The Devils held the Rangers shotless in six man-advantages, including a pair of two-man advantages.
The Devils’ penalty kill was a major Achilles’ heel at points this year but closed the campaign killing their last seven, finishing 16th in the NHL in penalty killing.
Anton Volchenkov led the Devils on Saturday with three shots.
That pretty much tells the story, doesn’t it?
The Devils are still faintly alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
New Jersey must win out and get some help. But after falling behind 2-0 Saturday afternoon, the Devils responded with six-unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers.
In Winnipeg, the Jets scored late to force overtime against the New York Islanders. New York claimed a 5-4 shootout win Saturday.
The Jets’ loss leaves them in a precarious spot. Winnipeg now trails the Rangers by one point and the Washington Capitals by three for the Southeast Division lead. The Jets have played the same number of games as Washington and one more than the Rangers.
Winnipeg will meet Washington Tuesday in a game that could eliminate the Jets from division contention. The Caps beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday at Bell Centre
The Ottawa Senators, still fighting for their playoff lives, fell at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night. The Leafs clinched a playoff berth with that victory.
That’s what happened yesterday. Here is what will go down Sunday.
The Devils and Rangers meet at Madison Square Garden at 3 p.m. New Jersey needs to beat New York, ideally in regulation, but even an overtime or shootout win will keep the Devils alive for the No. 8 seed.
However if the Devils win in regulation or overtime, that is the best-cased scenario. The Devils must win out, and hope the Rangers go 0-2-2 or worse, to surpass New York.
The Boston Bruins trail the Canadiens by two points for first place in the Northeast Division. Boston can pull even with Montreal if it can knock off the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Here is the full slate of Eastern Conference games with playoff implications. All times are p.m. and eastern time.
Florida at Boston, 12:30
DEVILS at N.Y. Rangers, 3
The Devils helped themselves on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for them and their fans, that’s the only help they got.
New Jersey remains six back of eighth place now with only five games remaining. The Devils’ 3-0 win in Philadelphia kept them alive in the playoff hunt with five games left but did them no other good.
The New York Rangers pummeled Florida, 6-1. The Winnipeg Jets blew a two-goal third-period lead, beating the Carolina Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders each stayed hot, winning their games.
The Devils are in a catch-22 tonight too. New Jersey simply must root for the Buffalo Sabres, who will host the Rangers tonight.
New Jersey roots for Buffalo tonight, because a Sabres win will keep the Devils six points behind the No. 8 seed with five games left. New Jersey will have one game in hand on the Rangers with two head-to-head meetings next week.
Meanwhile, the Devils would have two games in hand on Buffalo. Assuming New Jersey wins those two– no small assumption, but the Devils need to win out anyway– it would leap frog the Sabres.
Based on what is happening in Boston, it is unknown whether the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins will meet tonight. However, they’re scheduled to go at 7. A Pittsburgh win would seal it the East’s top seed.
The Bruins and Penguins have been postponed due to the manhunt in Boston. That game’s been rescheduled for Tuesday.
Here’s the full slate of Eastern Conference games for tonight:
N.Y. Rangers at Buffalo, 7
Pittsburgh at Boston, 7