The Devils next stop on their road trip was the Mile High City of Denver for a tilt against the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado is a team that starts quickly and the Devils would need to keep some guys in check if they had any hope of winning the game.
In the end, not only did the Avs score early, but they were also boosted by a young goaltender named Calvin Pickard. On the strength of both of those factors, the Avalanche handed the Devils the second loss on their western road swing. This loss would dash the Devils’ hopes of getting to within a point of the Rangers, who lost to the Islanders tonight as well. They are still on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.
The Devils would be down a two extra forwards, as Bobby Farnham was suspended for four games for his interference incident in the Blues game on Tuesday and Jordin Tootoo was injured in a fight with Ryan Reaves. He is day-to-day with what the team is calling an upper body injury. For Tootoo, he was also fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment, which occurred on January 4 against the Red Wings.
With them out, the Devils dressed eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Tuomo Ruutu was back in the lineup from the injured reserve and Joseph Blandisi, originally a draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, was in the lineup as well. Paul Thompson was sent back down to Albany.
Cory Schneider got the start between the pipes for the Devils. He saw 25 shots and got 23 of them. Pickard got the start for the Avs, seeing 27 shots and grabbing all of them. It was his first NHL shutout on the way to being named the game’s first star.
The Devils did not muster much offense, although Jon Merrill had a few good chances. Damon Severson led the team with four shots on the night.
The Avalanche are a great first period team, notoriously quick starters and sure enough, the first goal of the game (what would go on to be the game winner, no less) was scored just 51 seconds into the game by Matt Duchene, who victimized the Devils again, as he did at Prudential Center back in December. Nick Holden and Gabriel Landeskog got the assists on that goal. New Jersey was caught in a line change when the Avalanche broke in on a 2-on-1 and finished the job. Patrick Roy’s team was up 1-0 and would not look back.
The Devils looked to be in business when the Avs’ Chris Bigras was called for hooking with a minute left in the first period. They would have half of their power play on fresh ice, but Colorado killed it off. In fact, the Devils’ power play would go 0-for-3 on the night.
In the second, Holden would go off for holding Kyle Palmieri at 5:56. The Devils would have another power play, but they found themselves down 2-0 when it was over instead. Tyson Barrie scored from Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay at 7:55, technically shorthanded, since there was one second left on the Devils’ power play. It was 2-0 Colorado after two.
Late in the third period, New Jersey would pull Schneider to try to even things up, but ended up yielding an empty net goal to Carl Soderberg instead. The goal came unassisted at 19:32 and gave Colorado the 3-0 lead that was the final.
The Devils will now look ahead to Glendale, Arizona and the surging Coyotes. The game has been moved up to a 2 PM start Eastern Time due to the Arizona Cardinals-Green Bay Packers NFL playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium right across the parking lot.
They will try to even up the road trip at .500, but that will be a difficult task. Mike Cammalleri, it was announced, will not be joining the team on this trip, which means the earliest they can get him back is Tuesday at home against the Calgary Flames. In the meantime, the Devils will look to score some goals. They need to get them from some unlikely sources at this point if they want to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.