It has been rough sledding for the Devils in overtime this year. But this game was a little tougher to swallow as the Devils had a few leads over the course of the night before ultimately losing in the extra period 4-3 to the Panthers down in Sunrise, Florida.
Both teams came into the game in last place in their divisions while the Panthers were in last place overall in the Eastern Conference. It has been a challenging season so far for each side, but the teams put together an entertaining game tonight. The Devils do remain at only two road wins for the year, as they now fall to 2-9-1 when away from Prudential Center.
This was the back end of the Devils’ third back-to-back of the year. They are now 0-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs with one coming up this coming weekend against Washington and Winnipeg.
Two injury notes as Marcus Johansson is out, day-to-day with a lower body injury. J-S Dea slotted in at forward for him tonight. Also, Steven Santini is with the New Jersey club but remains on injured reserve. He will practice with the team while he continues to get better from his broken jaw.
Johansson was a scratch along with Mirco Mueller and Drew Stafford. Miles Wood played on the second line in place of Johansson. Blake Coleman was also a game-time decision.
The Devils also nearly lost Nico Hischier during this game, as he was hit from behind and had his face slammed into the glass by Bogdan Kiselevich midway through the third period. No penalty was called on the play – Nico had his numbers showing meaning he was turned away and that this was a clear hit from behind – and Nico did go down the tunnel for some treatment, but he did return later in the third frame.
In the crease, it was back to Keith Kinkaid for this game. He ended up with 30 stops on 34 Florida shots. He played a good game and got some help from the posts, especially very late in regulation with the game tied at three. Jared McCann hit the post on a clear breakaway that helped force the OT period. For the Panthers, James Reimer was in nets, subbing for the injured Roberto Luongo. He made 29 saves on 32 Devils shots.
Following a scoreless first period, only the second time this season that the Devils have played a scoreless first according to Steve Cangialosi of MSG+ (the other was on October 14 against San Jose), the scoring got kicked off in earnest in the second. Miles Wood scored his second of the year from Sami Vatanen and Egor Yakovlev at the 1:23 mark of the second frame. It came when Kyle Palmieri fought for the puck in the corner and slid it to Wood near the half wall. He gave it to Yakovlev, who went D-to-D with Vatanen. Vatanen shot and Wood, who had gone to the net, tipped it by Reimer to make it 1-0 Devils. It was Wood’s first goal since October 30 at the Lightning.
Then the Devils, who were nursing that 1-0 lead, got into penalty trouble. First they were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty at 5:35. Luckily, Blake Coleman would have the answer for the best kind of penalty killing. He scored a shorthanded goal. The goal came unassisted at 6:01 on a breakaway as he just fired the puck by Reimer without letting him get set. It was both Coleman and the Devils second shorthanded goals of the year.
But, while they were killing that first penalty off with a 2-0 lead, Travis Zajac took a slashing call on a nice scoring attempt by Jonathan Huberdeau at 6:49. The Devils would now be down 5-on-3 for 46 seconds. The Panthers would not delay. Aleksander Barkov scored over Kinkaid’s glove off of a feed from Evgenii Dadonov. Huberdeau had the secondary assist on the power play goal which came with four seconds remaining on the first penalty (the 7:31 mark of the period), meaning the Devils still had to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.
On the night, the Devils went 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots on goal. They had four shorthanded shots. Florida was 1-for-4 with four power play shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on special teams.
The Cats had cut the lead to one for the Devils but would knot things up before the end of the second. McCann scored at the 11:43 mark to tie things at two. He beat Kinkaid with plenty of time and space off of a feed from Mackenzie Weegar when the Devils failed to clear the zone. With the start of the third period, we would be exactly where we were going into the second: tied.
The Devils would retake the lead midway through the third at 11:27 when Jesper Bratt scored an almost identical goal to the Wood one. Bratt scored from Vatanen and Taylor Hall to make it 3-2 when the Devils set up shop in the Florida zone and Hall worked it back to Vatanen at the near point. He released a quick shot that Bratt was able to get a stick on and tip by Reimer. The Devils had the lead late, now they just had to hold on.
But they could not. After Reimer was pulled with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Huberdeau scored from Barkov and Dadonov when the puck pinballed around in front of Kinkaid, finally finding its way onto Huberdeau’s stick. He put it past Kinkaid to tie things up at three. Following a back-and-forth last minute or so, we were headed to overtime with both teams getting a point out of the deal.
Early in the 3-on-3 extra session, it appeared the Panthers had won things when Mike Hoffman’s shot seemed to go in and out of the net. The referee signaled goal, the goal horn went off and the fans reacted, but replays showed that he had actually hit the post with it coming back out. New Jersey had gotten a reprieve but it was not to last.
A few seconds later, 1:28 into the OT, Hoffman scored for real from Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad to get the 4-3 win. The Devils had taken the hardluck loss and will now return to New Jersey before facing the Capitals in Washington on Friday.
The Devils ended the game winning just under half of the game’s faceoffs at 48-percent and were outhit by Florida 24 to 17. The Panthers had more blocked shots at 14 to 12 but the Devils had less giveaways with 13 to the Cats’ 19.
Individually, Damon Severson led in time on ice with 25:08 (1:05 on the PP, 1:19 on PK) while Hall led all forwards with 21:02 (2:46 power play/three seconds PK). Shots on goal were led by Brett Seney with four, hits were led by Coleman with three and blocked shots were led by Kyle Palmieri, Stefan Noesen and Andy Greene with two each. Hischier and Travis Zajac led in takeaways with two each.
Next up, as mentioned, the Devils will head home to regroup this week as they do not play until Friday down in Washington. That game will be at 7 PM and we will have a recap right here when all is said and done.