I’m not going to lie, this was a tough one. The Devils lost in overtime, 3-2, to the Detroit Red Wings today at Prudential Center in a game that they almost fully controlled even late. Detroit was able to stay in the game with good goaltending by Jonathan Bernier and capitalize on their chances, winning the game in the process.
It was Military Appreciation Day at The Rock, with the Devils wearing special camo warmup jerseys that were then signed by the players and auctioned off for the Kyle Palmieri Foundation. Palmieri’s charity also benefited from the 50/50 at the arena. There were a lot of uniformed military personnel in attendance and a great crowd on hand in general.
There was some disappointing injury news, as defenseman Sami Vatanen was placed on injured reserve retroactive to November 15 with a lower body injury. Eric Gryba was recalled from Binghamton to take his place on the roster, and was scratched along with Drew Stafford and Nico Hischier. Nico is still out with an upper body injury and was asked if he could go today by the coaching staff. He felt that he could not give a 100-percent effort and missed the game. Hischier could return as soon as tomorrow at Carolina.
The Red Wings would lose Darren Helm early in the contest and he would not return, so they would be down a forward for the majority of the game.
Goaltending was excellent today. Bernier went for the Wings, as mentioned, and made 38 saves on 40 Devils shots. Keith Kinkaid went again for the Devils – John Hynes noted that his performance today would determine who started tomorrow with the quick turnaround on the back-to-back. Kinkaid stopped 27 shots on 30 total faced. The shot disparity is understandable when you consider that the Wings are third in the NHL in shots allowed per game with 35.1 entering this game.
But, much like the game against Philly the other night, there were a lot of posts involved. The Wings hit about four posts, including late in the first when Ben Lovejoy’s stick broke on a shot at the point. This resulted in a 2-on-1 where Dylan Larkin slid the puck through Kinkaid’s crease and hit the post.
Special teams was a weird one today. Detroit typically has a good power play and penalty kill, but today they were 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots. They did give up a shorthanded goal to the Devils, however, which we will get to in a second.
The Devils did not get a power play opportunity on the afternoon, however there was one strange play early in the third that should have resulted in one. The Red Wings had too many men on the ice and one of the culprits, Andreas Athanasiou, tried to get off the ice by climbing into the area between the benches where Bryce Salvador stands. That should have been a penalty because he did not exit the ice directly to the bench, but was not called. A frustrating turn of events for the Devils, but one they had to deal with.
The first goal of the game was a big one for the confidence of it’s scorer. Pavel Zacha, who had been sent down to the AHL in an attempt to kickstart his season, finally broke through. He scored at 11:35 of the first off an assist from Jesper Bratt. Bratt recovered a Detroit turnover in the neutral zone, skated up the left wing boards and slid the puck to Zacha, who was cruising in near the slot. He buried a one-timer five hole to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
That is how it would stay for the next more-than-full period. At 15:42 of the second period, Ben Lovejoy was called for holding, but it was the Devils who would strike. Blake Coleman scored a shorthanded goal from Damon Severson and Andy Greene at 15:53. Severson chipped the puck up to Coleman, who broke in on a 2-on-1 with Travis Zajac. Coleman elected to shoot and fired it by Bernier’s glove side to make it 2-0 Devils. It was the Devils’ first shorty this season.
But the Red Wings would score the next three unanswered to get the win. The first came at 18:26 of the second when Luke Glendening scored to break Kinkaid’s nearly-95 minute shutout streak. Glendening scored from Dennis Cholowski and Tyler Bertuzzi to make it 2-1.
Detroit would tie things up about halfway through the third at the 13:37 mark when Michael Rasmussen scored from Mike Green and Bertuzzi. Rasmussen redirected a shot by Green with Glendening in front of the net. Glendening had bumped Kinkaid on the play and the Devils would use their coach’s challenge to see if there was goaltender interference. The replay showed that Glendening was pushed into Kinkaid by the defender, Lovejoy, and the call on the ice stood, it was a good goal.
With the game now tied up at two, both teams dug in. There was a point in the early part of the second period when it was pure back-and-forth end-to-end hockey. Now the Devils were trying desperately to retake the lead. Taylor Hall was robbed on a Bernier glove save late in the third that helped keep Detroit in things. That was indicative of the afternoon, as the Devils were just having trouble finishing for the most part.
When the final horn sounded with the game still tied, we were headed for OT. The Devils were 0-1 in the extra period this season (their loss coming to Nashville before the road trip), but they were about to go down to 0-2.
The Devils pushed the pace for almost all of the OT session, controlling the puck until Larkin was able to break in on a 2-on-1 with Anthony Mantha, who made a perfect pass to Larkin. He buried it and the Red Wings had the 3-2 win.
A disappointing loss, to say the least.
One of the main problems for the Devils in the overtime was winning faceoffs. They ended up winning 44-percent of the game’s draws. Detroit also outhit them 21-15 and had more blocked shots than the Devils, 16-13.
Severson led New Jersey in ice time with 26:16 total (including 1:16 shorthanded). Hall led all forwards with 19:57 total time on ice. Palmieri led in shots with five and Coleman led in hits with four. J-S Dea, Zacha and Severson each had two blocked shots to lead in that category and Miles Wood led in takeaways with two.
It’s a quick-ish turnaround for the Devils. They have a game tomorrow at 5 PM at the Hurricanes in Carolina. However, it is a bit different for the Canes, who will actually be playing tonight against the Blue Jackets at home. The Devils will be arriving in Raleigh around the time that that game starts. We will have coverage of that game for you right here.