Full disclosure: I did not get the memo that this game was starting at 2 PM on NBC. I thought it was still on for 7 PM on MSG. Therefore, this will be a relatively quick and dirty recap because I missed the entire first period and part of the second while at work.
The Devils traveled down to Washington following last night’s loss to Buffalo at Prudential Center. Things went well for them until the third period when the wheels fell off, they ended up being edged by a score of 4-3.
Between the pipes, the Devils went to Aaron Dell to give Mackenzie Blackwood a night off. Dell made 37 saves on a whopping 41 Caps shots for a .902 save percentage. He stopped 34-of-35 at even strength, but the power play was where the Devils really struggled. Dell let in three of the six Washington power play shots.
Facing him was Craig Anderson. The former Ottawa Senator stopped 23 of 26 Devils shots for an .885 save percentage. He also stopped the Devils’ lone shorthanded shot and three of their four shots on the man advantage. He made 19 saves on 21 shots at even strength.
Travis Zajac was playing in game number 1,000 today as the Devils let him take a lap alone to begin warmups. Congrats to Travis on this great milestone. To get to 1,000 NHL games alone is impressive. To do that all with one franchise is even more remarkable. Zajac joins Ken Danekyo as the only other Devil to play 1,000 games all with the New Jersey franchise.
Washington was in their blue alternate uniforms with the big white “W” on them.
Andreas Johnsson got the scoring started when he notched a power play goal 9:35 into the game. It came when Pavel Zacha gained the Washington zone, turned and played catch with PK Subban at the blueline. Zacha got the puck back and passed through a seam to Kyle Palmieri, who got it to Johnsson in front. Johnsson took the pass, spun around and shot in one motion, scoring to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.
That score took us through the first intermission. In the second period, Jack Hughes gave the Devils the 2-0 lead at 3:55 when Palmieri tipped the puck along the near boards to Johnsson. Johnsson then broke into the Capitals’ zone on the rush. He found Hughes along with him and fought through a Washington stick to pass to him. Hughes got the pass and backhanded the puck by Anderson to make it 2-0 Devils.
Then things started to break down.
It began at 13:38 of the second when the Caps broke through and got on the board. It came when TJ Oshie scored on the power play. After setting up in the Devils’ zone, Nicklas Backstrom played catch with John Carlson, who was stationed at the point. Carlson fired and Oshie tipped the shot by Dell to make it 2-1.
That score took us through the second intermission.
In the third, the Caps would complete the comeback. It started when Carlson tied things at 9:16 into the third frame.
That came when the Capitals cycled around to Jakub Vrana. He played catch with Brenden Dillion, who was camped out at the point. He faked a shot and passed to Carlson, who was camped at the other point. Carlson’s shot beat Dell to tie the game at two apiece.
Oshie would give them their first lead of the afternoon when he scored on the power play at 11:53. It came when Lars Eller cycled the puck to Evgeny Kusnetsov at the far halfwall. He passed to Oshie, who was camped in the middle of the ice in the slot. He ripped a shot by Dell to make it 3-2 Washington.
But the Caps would not stop there on the power play. At 16:56 of the third, Alex Ovechkin struck on the man advantage. The Capitals won the faceoff in the Devils’ zone. They got it up the halfwall to Backstrom, who made a backhanded pass to Oshie. Oshie then fed Ovechkin, who was camped on the near side of the Devils’ net. It was just a layup for the Great 8. That made it 4-2 Washington.
But the Devils would show some fight when, with the goalie pulled and 12 seconds to go in the game, Nikita Gusev added one to give a final push. The puck came around the boards and Damon Severson dug it out at the near wall. He then threw it towards the Washington net. It bounced to Gusev at the far side of the Caps goalmouth. He then potted it to make it 4-3.
This set up a frantic ending as the Devils tried to get that tying goal but could not in the end. Our final score was 4-3, Capitals as the Devils have now lost two in a row.
Severson led all Devils with 23:52 of total ice. Hughes led the forwards with 19:37.
Michael McLeod led the centers with a 53-percent faceoff winning percentage as New Jersey only won 46-percent of the game’s total draws.
Palmieri led the Devils in points with two (both assists). The Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play while Washington was 3-for-4, as should be expected for them.
Shots were led by Palmieri, Hughes and Gusev, who each had three. The Devils were badly outshot by a 41-26 margin.
Ryan Murray registered the most hits for the Devils at six. The Devils outhit the Caps, 19-12. Murray also led in blocked shots with two along with Subban, who also had two, although Washington had more blocks total at 15 to the Devils’ ten.
The Devils had slightly more giveaways with seven to the Caps’ six. Nate Bastian, Zajac, Palmieri, Gusev and Severson led in takeaways for the Devils.
So, next up, the Devils will again face the Sabres, this time up in Buffalo. That game is at 7 PM on MSG+ on Tuesday… for now. I will try to keep up with any updates involving television and puckdrop and plan accordingly.
Until then, be safe everyone!