The New Jersey Devils travel to Washington D.C. to take on the Washington Capitals for the fifth time this season. New Jersey has struggled against the Capitals in their previous four matchups and boasts a record of 0-3-1. The Devils have been playing significantly better hockey recently and have a record of 4-1-1 in their last six games. Mackenzie Blackwood will be in net for the first night of the back-to-back against the Capitals. Blackwood will face Vitek Vanecek, who is in net for Washington. The Devils look to continue their strong play and finally figure out the Washington Capitals.
The Devils came out of the gate extremely fast and firing off chances. Yegor Sharangovich rang one off the pipe in the first minute of the game. A few moments later, Vitek Vanecek mishandled the puck and Nicholas Merkley was able to capitalize on the chance 1:23 into the game. Only around two minutes later, Dmitry Orlov shoots from the point in front of a heavily screened Blackwood and tied the game 3:10 into the first period. Sharangovich took his first penalty all season and the Devils have a successful first penalty kill 6:13 into the game. The Devils get a chance on the powerplay after Zdeno Chara took a slashing penalty. Miles Wood came extremely close on the latter half of the power play, but John Carlson would save a puck at the goal-line to keep the game tied. New Jersey dominated the first period and held the Capitals to only 4 shots while the Devils fired 11 on the net.
New Jersey would start the second period with 15 seconds of power-play time. Both teams were having trouble controlling the puck five minutes into the period. Then, at 6:10 into the period, Wood snuck one past Vanecek to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. The lead would not last long as Alex Ovechkin would get one past Blackwood to tie the game 55 seconds later. 11:47 into the second, Evgeny Kuznetsov slips one past Blackwood on a tight angle to give the Capitals their first lead of the year. The Capitals had a much stronger period and led in shots on goal for the second period 9-6. The Devils still lead in overall shots 17-13 heading into the third period.
Both teams would start the third period with an even pace. A blatant high-stick on Travis Zajac was not called, the second in the game not called. With 10 minutes left, Mikhail Maltsev would miss a wide-open net to tie the game. A few minutes later, the Devils would get another chance on their powerplay after a Nick Jensen cross-checking penalty. Jesper Bratt would rifle one home to tie the game at 8:56. About a minute later, Damon Severson deflects one into his own net and the Capitals take the lead again. After, Sami Vatanen takes a hooking penalty. The Devils kill is able to hold the Capitals power-play off again. The Devils rally too late and fall to the Capitals again. The final shots on goal were 24-22 New Jersey.
The Devils and Capitals go through another close game with the Capitals coming out on top again. New Jersey continues their improved play despite their struggles against the Capitals. Mackenzie Blackwood’s play is on the uprise, but dealing with the top shooting percentage team in the league will definitely hurt the stats. The Capitals have shown they do not need many chances to score and ultimately is the reason for most of their wins against the Devils. New Jersey will be able to get right back tomorrow versus the Capitals.