Devils Lose Heartbreaker in OT to Jets

The Devils have lost a good amount of overtime games this season, but somehow this one hurt more than any of the others. They fought valiantly but ended up losing in the extra period 4-3 at Prudential Center. The Devils fought back from a 3-1 deficit late in the third period to force OT but were not able to get the two full points.

The Devils were happy to see November go as they had only picked up 11 points in the month and just had a dreadful time of things. In addition to that, they came into this game having scored only one power play goal in 23 chances over their last ten games. That would reverse itself tonight, but they will still be glad to see the calendar turn.

Will Butcher was a healthy scratch for the first time this season as the coaching staff decided that it would be a good for him to see things from up top for a game, just to refresh his outlook. He joined Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini as scratches while Drew Stafford slotted in up front and Egor Yakovlev was in on the blue line. Mikey McLeod was sent back to Binghamton after making his NHL debut last night in Washington.

One guy scratched for the other team was forward Brendan Lemieux. He is the son of 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Devils, Claude Lemieux. Claude was on hand to do commentary on MSG+ with Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko – a nice treat for fans watching at home.

One guy that the Devils would have to deal who was in the lineup for Winnipeg was Patrik Laine. Laine was named the NHL’s first star for the month of November. He had a five-goal game against St. Louis on November 24 and would be someone the Devils would need to contain. The Devils would not need to worry about big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who missed his second straight game with a concussion.

In nets, Keith Kinkaid played both games of the back-to-back for the first time this season. He would be really good, especially in the OT period as he stopped 34 of the Jets’ 38 shots. Across the rink was Laurent Brossoit, the Jets backup who made 36 saves on 39 Devils shots against. He was starting the first of a back-to-back for the Jets, who play tomorrow against the Rangers at the Garden.

This game would finish up the season series between the two teams, the first such series conclusion for the Devils. Pregame saw the Devils hold a tribute and moment of silence for former President George HW Bush, who passed away yesterday, just prior to the national anthems.

One other note before we get to the game details. Last night, Taylor Hall was credited with an assist on Nico Hischier’s goal. The assist was given after the game by the NHL, but it was the 500th point of his NHL career. Congratulations to Hall on hitting that milestone.

The Devils would strike first on the big board, as they really spent a lot of time in the offensive zone during the opening period. Marcus Johansson hit the back of the net from Jesper Bratt at the 6:45 mark of the first period. It occurred when Bratt rushed up the right wing boards following a big save at the other end by Kinkaid and dropped to Johansson just inside the Winnipeg blue line. Johansson shot and had his initial output blocked in front by a Jets defender. He grabbed the puck right back and buried it behind Brossoit stick side. That gave the Devils the quick 1-0 lead.

It would stay that way for almost a full period. At the 4:25 mark of the second, Mark Scheifele scored his first of two on the night when, just like the Devils’ first goal, Brossoit made a big save for the Jets at one end and Blake Wheeler grabbed it and fed Scheifele at the other. He scored and the game was tied up at one.

The third period began with Winnipeg hitting a crossbar and a post all within about five minutes of each other. Things were beginning to turn in the game and that would soon show up on the scoreboard.

It began when Josh Morrissey took a great centering pass in the slot from Jack Roslovic and scored. Mathieu Perreault had the secondary assist on the goal that gave Winnipeg the 2-1 lead at 10:32 of the third.

Things were looking pretty dim for the Devils when, at 13:21 of the third, Andrew Copp scored on a wraparound off assists from Mason Appleton (playing his first NHL game and getting his first NHL point) and Adam Lowry. The Devils were now in a 3-1 hole. This came just moments after a non penalty call on the Jets after Kyle Palmieri was taken down in the Jets zone.

But the Devils have fight and pride in them. The comeback began at 13:57 when Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot was called for holding Brian Boyle. The Devils were now on the power play and were about to see dividends on it.

At 15:41, near the end of the power play, Bratt found the back of the net from Damon Severson and Pavel Zacha. It came when Severson got the puck at the far point from Zacha and went point-to-point with Bratt. Bratt fired through a Brian Boyle screen in front and beat Brossoit cleanly to make it 3-2 Winnipeg.

On special teams, the Devils finished 1-for-3 on the power play with three shots. The Jets were 0-for-1 with no power play shots, but two shorthanded shots on goal. For Zacha, the assist was an especially sweet point, as he was originally credited with an assist on Johansson’s goal, but had it taken away by the official scorers.

This goal, which got the Devils within one, would set up a dramatic finish to regulation. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, New Jersey pulled Kinkaid for the extra skater. The Devils would set up in the Jets’ zone and collapse down, forcing a mad scramble in front of the Winnipeg net. Finally, after hacking through a maze of legs and sticks, Taylor Hall put home the game tying goal from Nico Hischier and Palmieri. Jets coach Paul Maurice would use his coach’s challenge to review for goaltender interference, but replays showed nothing, meaning the call on the ice stood: good goal. We were now tied at three and had another overtime looming.

And this was a good one. It began with Hall and Hischier teaming up on a 2-on-0 with Hall not being able to put home the pass from Nico. Keith Kinkaid then became the near hero when he stopped Laine on a partial breakaway, tried to get the puck back in play quickly and gave it away to Kyle Connor, only to stymie him with a glove save as well.

Finally, with under a minute to go in the OT, Hischier stripped a puck off the stick of a Jets player, only to have it stolen again by Mark Scheifele, who walked in on Kinkaid and scored unassisted for the game winner. Hischier had just had a 2-on-1 at the other end and elected to pass instead of taking the shot in a missed opportunity for the Devils.

It was an exciting game that came down to the wire and the Devils got a point out of it, but it left Devils fans feeling empty because they really fought back to earn this one.

Statistically, the Devils only won 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also being out hit 26 to 21. They had less blocked shots than Winnipeg, 11 to the Jets’ 14 and had more giveaways at nine to one clip.

Once again, Sami Vatanen was the workhorse with 27:19 of ice time (including 4:03 on the power play – he took New Jersey’s only penalty and, thus, did not get any PK time). Hall led all forwards with 21:42 (4:29 of PP time) and Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with six. Hall, Johansson and Vatanen also registered five shots on goal. Hits were led by Hall and Coleman who both had three and blocks were led by Andy Greene with three. Hischier had the most takeaways on the Devils with two.

Scheifele was named the game’s first star with two goals, including the game winner in overtime. Brossoit was the second star and Bratt the third star.

Next up, the Devils will remain home on Monday night when they faceoff with the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Rock. I will be attending this game, so my report will be a little bit late, but I will try to get it up as soon as possible.