The Devils came home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets the night before Thanksgiving trying to keep up the positives that they took from their win on Sunday in Vancouver. Unfortunately, it was not to be after a controversial call punctuated a poor Devils first period effort.
Patrik Elias made his return to the lineup tonight after missing the first 20 games of the season with a knee injury. He had stated that the injury had been bothering him for a few seasons, but with the rest he gave it this year, it feels better than any time it has in the last few. For the Blue Jackets, Brandon Dubinsky was also returning to the lineup from injury.
Cory Schneider made his seventeenth start of the year, finishing up with 23 saves. Opposing him was Sergei Bobrovsky, making 27 saves, who played just as well. Both goaltenders stood on their heads at times, making for an exciting game.
Consistent with that, the first goal of the game did not come until 8:51 had elapsed in the first when Columbus’ William Karlsson capitalized on the Devils’ lackluster first period play.
The first period came to a close with a gift for the Devils. The Jackets’ Dalton Prout was called for a high-sticking double minor against John Moore. The Devils would finish the first on the power play and have almost three full minutes on fresh ice in the second with an extra man.
They were not able to convert. Columbus, under John Tortorella plays a very tight defensive game, clogging passing lanes and blocking a lot of shots and it showed when they were on the penalty kill. The Devils were 0-for-4 with the extra man on the night.
The Devils had a scare midway through the first when Kyle Palmieri went off the ice after a hit. The MSG+ announcers speculated that it was as a precautionary move due to new concussion protocols. This was confirmed by bench reporter John MacLean. Palmieri would return in the second sporting a full face shield. In the second, Sergey Kalinin went to the locker room, he would return right after Adam Henrique tied the game.
That goal came at 3:33 and played out when Mike Cammalleri took a pass from Henrique and skated it into the Columbus zone, giving it back to Henrique, who snapped it by Bobrovsky to tie the game up. From there, the Devils had their chances. Midway through the second, Lee Stempniak was sprung on a breakaway by Damon Severson, but stopped on the shot. Perhaps the second period for the Devils was best summed up by the play that ended it: Cammalleri hit the post.
But while the Devils were pressuring for the remainder of the game, Columbus did sneak one through to take the lead back. Matt Calvert scored at 18:36 to put them up 2-1. And there it would stay, although not without some controversy.
Then the third period started. The Devils again were pressuring and things looked good about 8 minutes in when Henrique looked to have put the puck behind Bobrovsky. The Devils had had the extra skater on due to a delayed holding call against the Jackets’ Nick Foligno when the goal was scored. The officials then huddled together and referee Graham Skilliter announced to the crowd that the goal had been waved off.
Confusion reigned as nobody had heard a whistle nor had they seen a Blue Jacket touch the puck. The explanation did not do much to satisfy the Devils or their fans. Skilliter said that the whistle should have been blown when Gregory Campbell touched the puck; however he never had full control of it. Further explanation said that the linesmen can go to the referees and tell them what they have seen: in this case, Campbell touching the puck. It is considered a judgement call, as it is under the decision of the official if the puck was touched or controlled. No Blue Jacket had full control, but in the eyes of the official (in this case the linesman) he did touch the puck, therefore the play is whistled dead and Henrique’s goal is taken off the board.
From there, time simply ran out on the Devils. They could not get anything by Bobrovsky in the clutch and they lost 2-1.
But it is a quick turnaround. They have a home-and-home coming up immediately following Thanksgiving against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens. The Habs lost goalie Cary Price to a right leg injury during their win against the Rangers at the Garden tonight, so the Devils will most likely see former Princeton University star Mike Condon, who has filled in very well for Price. New Jersey will need to play a full game if they want to skate with the Canadiens for 120 minutes.