The Devils, coming off of one of their most emotional wins of the season on Saturday in Montreal, were looking to keep the momentum rolling as they came home to face the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs, as described by MSG+ color man Ken Daneyko, have been a “Jekyll and Hyde” team so far this season. They defeated the mighty Habs 6-1, but could not follow up in subsequent games.
But they came into Prudential Center and had a nasty edge to their game, allowing them to come away with a 2-1 win over the Devils.
On Adam Henrique bobblehead night at the Rock, the Devils would give Cory Schneider his fifth straight start. He would wind up with 23 saves. Opposing him was Swiss-born Reto Berra who had 27 saves and an assist in the Colorado win.
Things got chippy in the first period when Damon Severson was hit about foot off the boards by Blake Comeau. Severson went head-first into the boards, knocking his head on the dasher. His visor cut his nose, but other than that, he was okay. Comeau would go off for boarding, giving the Devils a power play at 11:08 of the first. They would not convert, but that incident would show itself later on in the second period.
With no scoring in the first, the Avalanche would break the tie at 2:10 of the second when Matt Duchene would beat Cory glove-side to give the Avs a 1-0 lead. Berra had his assist on this goal. A few minutes later, Tyson Barrie would double the Avalanche lead, putting Colorado up 2-0 at 6:15.
The second period was extremely penalty-filled (almost all of the penalties came in this frame – Comeau’s boarding call was the only penalty of the first and no penalties were called in the third). Jordin Tootoo, trying to get the Devils back into the game, went toe-to-toe with Erik Johnson in a heated scrap at 7:07. Later in the period, Comeau and Severson (who clearly had not forgotten the boarding incident) got into a little tussle and each went off for roughing. The Devils power play unit went to work, however, when Nathan MacKinnon was called for the additional roughing minor against Kyle Palmieri. All of those penalties came at 12:56. The Devils did not connect on that power play.
Their penalty killing unit was put to a real test later in the second when Tootoo was called for high-sticking at 15:48 and then Travis Zajac was called for delay of game when he shot the puck into the stands while trying to clear the zone. With Colorado on a 5-on-3 power play, the Avs would look to put the game away. The Devils, however, had a great kill and Henrique even had a short-handed rush (which forced Berra to cover the puck up, giving the Devils a faceoff deep in the Colorado zone). When the Devils ended up killing off the 5-on-3, it was in line with their form this season: they have not given up a power play goal on home ice since October, going 20-for-20 in penalty killing in the month of November.
With that out of the way, the Devils were still down 2-0. They finally cut the lead in half early in the third period when, at 2:09, Zajac won a faceoff in the Avalanche end and spun around to give the puck to Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri shot and the puck ricocheted off of Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin and past Berra.
New Jersey looked to be in business with an entire period to make a comeback a la the one in Montreal. But it was not to be. Time ran out on the Devils as they could not tie the score even with the short amount of time that they did have Schneider off the ice for the extra man. As Daneyko and Steve Cangialosi pointed out on the broadcast, the Devils never got things in gear with the extra attacker. Colorado came out with the 2-1 win.
Next up, the Devils will try to get things moving in the right direction again when they travel down to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. It is a very quick turnaround after that, as they play another back-to-back with the second half coming at home on Friday against the Flyers.
Can the Devils rebound from being edged out by the Avalanche and blow by the Hurricanes? We will find out on Thursday.