The Devils had a tough hill to climb coming into Nashville for a 2 PM game against the Predators. First, they were facing the Predators, a good defensive team who were 8-1-1 this season at Bridgestone Arena. Second, they were facing Pekka Rinne, the NHL’s first star of the month for November. He finished November with a 1.49 goals against average and has not given up more than three goals at home all season. So, all New Jersey did was go in to Nashville, go down three goals and win the game in overtime 5-4.
The Predators never give up power play goals at home. They were 27-for-27 on the penalty kill this season in their building. So, the Devils went in and scored a power play goal against them. But more importantly than all of that, what this Devils team showed was heart and determination.
Sorting out some roster stuff to begin with, Reid Boucher was placed on waivers on Thursday and did not clear. He was picked up by none other than the Nashville Predators. Boucher, the newest Predator, did not play today against his old team, although he was in Nashville, since he did not return to New Jersey when he was put on waivers as per Andrew Gross via Twitter.
Nashville is missing some of their key players due to injury, including leading scorer James Neal. Scratches for the Predators were Pontus Aberg, Adam Pardy and Boucher. New Jersey scratched Jacob Josefson, Sergey Kalinin and Jon Merrill.
The Devils were coming off of their overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago while the Preds were coming off of a three day layoff after winning in Colorado on Tuesday.
Cory Schneider had a rough outing in Chicago and was visibly upset after he let in the game winner on Thursday. To give him time to clear his head and get some rest, Keith Kinkaid filled in admirably today, making 38 saves on 42 Predators shots. As mentioned, Rinne was the NHL’s first star of the month for November, the first such Nashville Predator to grab that honor. He made 17 saves on 22 Devils shots.
The Devils would go on the power play early, when Viktor Arvidsson was called for high-sticking against Damon Severson at 7:47 of the first period. The Devils did not score on this man advantage but did give up a shorthanded breakaway to Nashville’s Austin Watson. Michael Cammalleri hustled nicely on the back check and was able to get his stick on Watson’s and his shot trickled in on Kinkaid for an easy save. This was a nice play by Cammalleri.
The Predators got on the board first when Kevin Fiala scored his fourth of the season from Matt Irwin and Mike Ribeiro. The Devils were down, but about a minute and sixteen seconds later, at 17:31, Kyle Quincey held the Predators’ zone and fired the puck toward net. The puck became airborne and Taylor Hall was right there in front of the net to bat it out of the air and behind Rinne. The goal was checked for a high stick, but it was clean so the game was tied up at one.
But they would not get out of the first period that way. At 19:20, PK Subban found the back of the net from Colin Wilson to give Nashville the 2-1 lead. Then, to make matters worse for the Devils, Pavel Zacha would take a puck or a stick to the face late in the first and would not return to the game.
And it would seem that the wheels would come off in the second. First, at 6:02, Fiala scored his second of the game from Craig Smith and Ribeiro. It was now 3-1 Nashville. The Predators then went up by three when Roman Josi scored his third of the year from Mattias Ekholm and Calle Jarnkrok.
To put it simply, the Devils did not play a very good second period. But whatever the coaching staff said in between periods, New Jersey responded.
One of the key moments of the game was late in the second, with 41 seconds left in the period, when Kinkaid robbed the Predators in a big save that kept New Jersey in the game.
From there on out, it was pretty all Devils on the scoresheet. Just 25 seconds into the third period, the puck dribbled out to Andy Greene at point. He fired and the rebound came out to Michael Cammalleri at the far circle. He fired it in and the Devils cut the lead in half to 4-2. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist on that goal. Cammalleri also tied Zajac for the team lead in goals with that one.
Exactly 30 seconds later, Nick Lappin banked a pass off of the boards on the breakout to Vern Fiddler. He carried into the Nashville zone, and fired on net. Greene followed up on the rebound, hammering it home to make it 4-3.
Predators’ coach Peter Laviolette would elect to use his timeout after Greene’s goal and it would settle the team down briefly.
Then, at 12:37, the man who scored the game tying goal and the OT winner last season in Nashville struck again; Adam Henrique fired one in after Hall had given to Palmieri just inside the Nashville blue line, who fed Henrique at the circle for a nice shot on net that connected. The goal came on the power play, as mentioned, the first one the Predators have given up all season at home.
On the night, the Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Predators were 0-for-2. The Devils came into this game 18-for-18 on the penalty kill in their last four games.
The Henrique goal was set up by a nice hit by Kyle Palmieri in the neutral zone on Mike Fisher. Had he not laid the body on him, Fisher would have been off to the races with the puck shorthanded.
The game was tied at four and that is how things would remain for the rest of regulation. The Devils were headed to overtime for the third time in their last four games.
But this time, unlike the shootout loss in Pittsburgh and the OT loss in Chicago, things would bounce in the Devils’ favor.
The Predators spent the better part of the three-on-three extra session in the Devils defensive zone until Filip Forsberg missed a shot on net and Cammalleri picked it up in the Devils zone and he was off. He found Hall through the neutral zone and the two skated in on a two-on-one odd man rush. Hall waited, then saucered a great pass to Cammalleri, who buried it to end the game.
The Devils had broken their winless streak in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion. The final score: New Jersey 5, Nashville 4.
It was exactly what the Devils needed as they return home one quick game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The Devils completed a great comeback against a very good Nashville team. Hopefully, they can continue the momentum and get some victories along the way.