Well Devils fans, what else can I say. Our team battled hard until the end in tonight’s contest. After falling behind 4-1 to the Washington Capitals heading into the third period, the New Jersey Devils fought back. New Jersey tied the game at 4, and sent it to overtime, and lost 5-4 via a heartbreaking goal from Jakub Vrana. Our Devils stood tall and had one of the best teams in the NHL scared for their lives.
Devils Trail After One
The Devils came out at a decent pace to start the game, just not much to show for it. Miles Wood took a slashing penalty at the 11:38 mark of the first, putting the Capitals on the first man advantage of the game. New Jersey was able to put together a strong kill, shutting down one of the league’s premier power plays. The Devils went to the powerplay with 8:51 to go. The struggles on the powerplay just continued for the Devils though, as they registered one shot. After this, New Jersey has been 0-16 on their last 16 powerplay opportunities.
Devils winger Janne Kuokkanen took a penalty with 4:25 to go, setting Washington up on their second powerplay of the period. But the Devils learned that if you play with fire, it will burn you. T.J. Oshie scored off of a skilled deflection in front, putting the Capitals in front 1-0. Not much happened for the rest of the period, as the score remained the same heading into intermission.
Sloppy Second Period
The second period became a disastrous one for New Jersey as it went on. With 14:16 to go in the second, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller both took penalties, making it a 4 on 4 situation. The Devils struggled over the next two minutes and gave up a goal right at the end of it. Jakub Vrana buried his first goal of the game, extending the Washington lead to 2-0. Things took a turn for the worse after this goal.
Less than three minutes later, Daniel Sprong put one behind Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood making it 3-0 Capitals. This was appearing to turn into a blowout. Janne Kuokkanen temporarily stopped the bleeding, scoring off of a heads-up pass from Travis Zajac. The goal cut the Washington lead to 3-1. But just a few minutes after the goal, Washington extended the lead yet again. A wide-open Dmitry Orlov blasted one past Wedgewood, making it 4-1 Capitals. Going into the second intermission, many fans turned off their TVs and did not believe in any chance of a comeback. This was shaping up to becoming a very disheartening performance from the Devils.
Special Teams Struggles
The final period of regulation started promising for the Devils. Just 1:22 into the period, Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway tripped up Pavel Zacha, sending New Jersey to their second man-advantage of the game. The struggles on special teams continued yet again for the Devils. Washington killed it off, making it an 0-17 Devils drought on the powerplay. But the Devils were slowly starting to come to life. Jesper Bratt skated into the Washington zone, with Miles Wood alongside him. Bratt sent it over to Wood who buried it, making the score 4-2 Washington. The Devils eventually went back to the powerplay for the third time with 13:12 left. Yet again, New Jersey was unable to convert, making it an 0-18 dry spell now. Special teams have been a cause for concern all season, and the Devils need to make changes fast.
Third Period Rally
All of a sudden, this game became an interesting one. Travis Zajac passed it up to Janne Kuokkanen, who sent a beautiful pass from the neutral zone to Yegor Sharangovich, who was cutting to the Washington net. Sharangovich ripped a wrister by Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek, making it 4-3 Capitals now. The Devils were buzzing and fighting hard for the tying goal.
About two minutes later, New Jersey had the pressure on in the Washington zone. Sharangovich, Sami Vatanen, and Jack Hughes put together some quality chances. The Devils passed it around, and defenseman Ty Smith sent it over to fellow defenseman Damon Severson. Severson let a wrist shot fly, and before you knew it, the puck was in the back of the net. New Jersey rallied from down 4-1 heading into the period, to knot it up at 4. The Devils kept the pressure coming over the final 7 minutes but were unable to take the lead.
New Jersey had the Capitals on their heels. With their backs against the wall, the Devils sent it into overtime, earning a hard-fought point.
Devils Fall In Overtime
The Devils started the overtime period with Kyle Palmieri, Pavel Zacha, and Damon Severson on the ice. Washington put out Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Ovechkin, and John Carlson. New Jersey took control of the puck to start overtime and entered the Capitals zone a few times. No shots were put on net, even after Jack Hughes, Ty Smith, and Jesper Bratt came on for the Devils. The Capitals got fresh legs on and caught the Devils in a change. Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a pass to Jakub Vrana. Vrana blew by an exhausted Ty Smith, and put a shot over the right shoulder of Scott Wedgewood, to end the contest right there.
Looking Forward For The Devils
After a disheartening 40 minutes of play where the Devils were getting outplayed and beaten to shreds, they flipped the switch heading into the third. The Devils were so close to defeating the second-place Washington Capitals, and New Jersey had them on their heels in the third after battling back to tie the game at 4. The Devils take a hard-earned point from tonight’s contest, but they fall to 8-11-3 on the season with 19 points. Washington improves to 15-6-4 with 34 points. The Devils head to Long Island for a Thursday matchup against the first-place Islanders at the Coliseum. That begins the start of a three-game set vs the New York Islanders, with two games taking place in New Jersey. Keep your heads up Devils fans. This team does not quit and they fought until the end tonight.