How would the Devils follow up on their dramatic shootout victory over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday? They would be playing three games in four days over Thanksgiving weekend and were set to take on another Original Six foe in a truncated homestand.
Back home on Prudential Center ice, the Devils have not dropped a game this season in regulation. The good news is that that trend continued tonight versus the Detroit Red Wings. The bad news is that they only pulled one point from the struggling Wings. The Devils fell 5-4 in overtime in what was a pretty good see-saw, back-and-forth game.
The Devils got Kyle Palmieri back on the ice from injury. Reid Boucher and Jon Merrill were the scratches for New Jersey. Detroit was sitting Alexey Marchenko, Drew Miller and Xavier Ouellet.
In goal for the Devils – in a somewhat surprise move, considering they play tomorrow in Pittsburgh and you would think John Hynes would want a good, rested Cory Schneider to throw at the Stanley Cup champs – was Cory Schneider. Schneider stopped 28 of 33 Detroit shots on goal. The Red Wings started Jimmy Howard, but he only ended up playing 11:31 before Petr Mrazek came on in relief. Howard gave up a goal on three shots faced while Mrazek was 13-for-16 on the evening.
The Devils actually got the scoring started at 6:01 of the first period. It happened when Travis Zajac held on to the puck behind the Detroit net. He passed to John Moore, who was at the far face off dot, who one-timed it home. Palmieri had the secondary assist and it was 1-0 Devils.
But from there, the first period was the Frans Nielsen show. The former Islander had two goals in a little over three minutes. The first coming shorthanded while the Red Wings were killing a double minor for high sticking against Riley Sheahan (assist to Justin Abdelkader), at 7:23. The second came at 10:41 and was assisted by Sheahan and Abdelkader. The Wings went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
But the Devils have been a tough team to play against and are very persistent, as shown by the Toronto game. They would retake the lead by the midway point of the second period. The tying goal came at 4:06 and happened when Michael Cammalleri came out of the near corner, throwing the puck on Mrazek’s net. He grabbed his own rebound and buried it, sneaking it by Mrazek’s low stick side. Zajac had the lone assist.
The Devils would take the lead at 5:56 when Pavel Zacha scored his second of the year. It came on the power play, while Jonathan Ericsson was serving an interference minor. Cammalleri held the zone and gave the puck to Beau Bennett, whose pass redirected off of a Red Wing skate and right to Zacha. Zacha did not miss his chance and buried it, giving the Devils a 3-2 lead.
But they would not get out of the period with that lead. The always dangerous Dylan Larkin snuck one past Cory with just 2.1 seconds left in the period. The assists went to Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg. The Devils challenged the goal, saying Detroit was off side on the play, but the linesemen reviewed it and found it to be a good goal. The call on the ice stood and it was 3-3. New Jersey lost their time out on their first coach’s challenge of the season.
The third period would wind up knotted too, but at 4-4. Detroit came out swinging and took a 4-3 lead just 43 seconds into the third frame when Anthony Mantha scored from Zetterberg.
But the Devils had some fight left in them. At 14:49, with a delayed penalty against the Red Wings waiting to be called, the Devils put on the extra skater and put on the pressure in the Detroit zone. John Moore played catch with Kyle Quincey at the point. Quincey fired a shot that was redirected into the Wings’ net by Adam Henrique. The Devils had fought back again to tie things up.
Although the stat sheet shows that the Devils were 1-for-5 with the man advantage, for all intents and purposes, it was 2-for-6 with that goal. Detroit was 0-for-3 as the Devils killed off all three power plays against.
They would pick up the point, but it was not without drama. At the 18:42 mark of the third period, Kyle Palmieri was nabbed for high sticking Brendan Smith. He would be off for the remainder of the game and about a minute into overtime, should it go that way.
The Devils would kill off the power play in regulation and gain a point on the night. New Jersey would be guaranteed to remain the only team in the NHL unbeaten at home in regulation – since Montreal fell a few nights ago at Bell Centre.
The teams would play 4-on-3 in the extra period. Once they killed that off and Palmieri came back onto the ice, they would play at 4-on-4 until a stoppage in play.
There was no stoppage. At the 3:18 mark of OT, Mike Green beat Cory Schneider to win the game. Nielsen and Mantha had the assists.
So, the Devils could not beat a weaker Red Wings team and will now be traveling to Pittsburgh to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Hopefully, they keep some of the momentum they have gained from these last few games (the comebacks in both games showed a team with grit) and play the Pens hard. It would be nice if they did not have to play from behind every game, but Pittsburgh should be a good yardstick as to where this team is right now.