Last night at Prudential Center, Nick Leddy had a sure game tying goal on his stick in the waning seconds staring at a wide open net. He ended up hitting the post, denying the Islanders at least a point as the Devils came away with the win. Getting two points last night was part one for the Devils, next up, they had to go into Barclays Center and take a back-to-back, home-and-home from the Isles.
They could not get part two on the list done tonight, falling 6-4 to the Islanders in Brooklyn.
The Islanders had gotten 19 of their 26 wins at home and had taken at least a point in their last ten games in Brooklyn while the Devils had not lost a game on the road in regulation since December 23, 2016. But when trying to figure out who had the momentum coming into tonight’s game, Ben Lovejoy had the best take: the Isles scored the final two goals last night and, even though New Jersey won, New York had the momentum going into tonight.
The lineups remained mostly the same for both teams, with Michael Cammalleri and Seth Helgeson healthy scratches for the Devils. Defenseman Kyle Quincey remains on injured reserve. The Isles were missing Cal Clutterbuck and had Adam Pelech and Shane Prince sitting.
While the lineup was largely the same for both teams from last night, it was the goaltending matchup that was totally different. Keith Kinkaid started for the Devils, a Long Island native whose father had Islander season tickets, making 26 saves on 32 shots faced for a .813 save percentage. JF Berube, a rookie, went for the Islanders. He made 26 saves on 30 shots for a .867 save percentage.
To say this was a wild one from a scoring perspective is an understatement. The Devils kicked things off with power play goal. Casey Cizikas was called for tripping at 8:54 and the Devils capitalized at 9:15 when the Devils worked the puck around the perimeter before giving to Taylor Hall down low at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. He made a beautiful pass to Miles Wood at the side of the net and Wood shoveled it in to give New Jersey a quick 1-0 lead. Kyle Palmieri was given the secondary assist. On the night, the Devils were 2-for-4 on the power play while the Islanders were 1-for-2.
But the Islanders would jump right back in it, tying it up before the first break. Ryan Strome scored his first of two from Anthony Beauvillier and Dennis Seidenberg. Following that goal, Kinkaid made the save of the night, keeping the game tied, when he dove across his goal crease with about five minutes left in the period to absolutely rob Josh Bailey with his glove.
The second period, however, is where the wheels fell off for the Devils. First, Cizikas scored from Stephen Gionta to make it 2-1, Isles. On that goal, Kinkaid just never saw the puck. He was screened by Devils defenseman Jon Merrill as Cizikas drove around the net to score. That goal came at 2:44 of the second period.
At 9:32, Strome scored his second of the game unassisted to make it 3-1 Islanders. It became 4-1 when Andrew Ladd scored a shorthanded goal while Seidenberg was serving a tripping penalty. Ladd’s goal was assisted on by Johnny Boychuk and came at 11:59 and came right after Kyle Palmieri missed a goal on the power play where Berube made a nice save on him.
But Palmieri would eventually get his goal. It came at 13:21 of the second when he grabbed a loose puck in the Isles zone and used the New York defender as a screen. He shot and beat Berube stick side to make it 4-2 Islanders. The assists went to Travis Zajac and Taylor Hall (who ended the game with three points – a goal and two assists).
But the Devils were not done there. At 17:55, the Devils were cycling down low and were able to work the puck to Steven Santini at the point. He shot and, while it seemed that Santini had beaten Berube cleanly, it turned out that Joseph Blandisi had gotten a piece of the puck before it went in. He was credited with the goal to make it 4-3 Islanders. Stefan Noesen had the secondary assist.
The Devils had clawed back into it, but a key power play would put the game out of reach for New York. Late in the second period, at 19:20, Andy Greene had been called for roughing. John Tavares sold the play very well, as he went down like a sack of potatoes and the referees bit on it to give the call to the Isles. With Greene off, it would only take 26 seconds into the third when Tavares would score on the power play from Strome and Anders Lee. That made it 5-3.
Thirty four seconds later, Jason Chimera scored unassisted to make it 6-3. Things were getting ugly. But the Devils had one little bit of comeback left in them.
At 6:29 of the third period, Andrew Ladd took a double minor for high sticking Miles Wood. His stick drew blood, so the Devils had a four minute power play. They would connect at 8:37 when Damon Severson carried the puck up and gave to Hall at the Devils’ blue line. Hall drove up the near boards and beat Berube with a shot just inside the post stick side. Keith Kinkaid had the secondary assist on the goal, which gave Hall 40 points, the first Devil to reach that milestone this year. That made it 6-4 Islanders, and that is where it would end. Kinkaid would be pulled with about 1:46 left but the Devils could not pull closer.
So, after suffering their first regulation road loss since before Christmas, the Devils need to regroup for the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. After tonight, the Devils will play their next seven games against playoff positioned teams, one of them being Ottawa. With the Sens victory last week, the Devils will have some revenge on their minds as they try to remain in the hunt for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.