The Washington Capitals are the New Jersey Devils kryptonite. Heading into Friday nights tilt at the Prudential Center, the Devils were 0-5-1 against Washington. The last two defeats came in Washington last week, with New Jersey losing 4-3 on Thursday, and then getting shut out 4-0 the following day. New Jersey has really had a rough go against the Capitals in 2021, and the struggles piled on on Friday. Dmitry Orlov ripped a rocket over the shoulder of Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood in overtime, giving Washington the 2-1 victory.
Uneventful First Period
Friday’s game got off to a very slow start. Neither team was getting much going within the first few minutes. New Jersey went to the powerplay early, with 16:42 left in the period. John Carlson was sent to the box for holding Mikhail Maltsev. The Devils dismal powerplay got nothing going, which has been a trend as of late when New Jersey has a man advantage. With 1:17 left on the Devils powerplay, Jesper Bratt was penalized for goalie interference. This was a real debatable call, as Bratt was pushed into Washington netminder Vitek Vanecek.
This set up a 4v4 situation, and an abbreviated Capitals powerplay. Washington generated a few shots on the powerplay, but none got by Blackwood. The rest of the period was rather uneventful, with not a lot of offensive chances for both sides. New Jersey came very close to leading 1-0, but Kyle Palmieri‘s shot rang off the post with 55 seconds remaining in the first. The score remained at 0-0 heading into the second period.
Devils And Caps Exchange Goals
Washington came out flying to start the second, while the Devils were caught flat-footed. The Capitals dictated the pace of play for a good part of the first period. Washington went to the powerplay, as Sami Vatanen high-sticked Alex Ovechkin. New Jersey was unable to clear the puck a few times on the powerplay kill and had trouble leaving their own zone. While the Capitals dominated the Devils zone for several minutes, they fired 12 shots on Blackwood before one eventually got through for a goal. With 11:38 to go in the second period, John Carlson was able to get one by Blackwood. Lars Eller was credited with the lone assist, and the Capitals took a 1-0 lead.
The second period was shaping up to be a real nightmare for the Devils. But that changed a few minutes later. Ryan Murray sent a nice feed to Jesper Boqvist, who got a shot off that Vanecek stopped. Vanecek was unable to control the rebound, and Michael McLeod came rushing in and his shot tied the game. McLeod made a heads-up play to get the long rebound and he got one by Vanecek. Boqvist was credited with the assist, and the Devils answered back to tie the game at 1. Andreas Johnsson also had two phenomenal chances following the goal, but his struggles continued and none went in the net. New Jersey and Washington both exchanged some shots in the final minutes, but nothing to show for it. Going into the third period the Devils and Capitals were tied at 1.
Scoreless Third Leads To Overtime
New Jersey and Washington generated a few quality shots in the opening minutes of the third, but the goaltenders stood tall. With 12:18 to go, the Capitals nearly took the lead. Brenden Dillon rang one off the post, keeping the game knotted at 1. Blackwood had to stop a few more Capitals chances following that shot. The Devils goaltender was putting together another strong performance, keeping the Devils in the game. More shots came in from both clubs but both goalies continued to look solid.
With 5:03 to go, the Devils had their best chance of the period. Jack Hughes took control of the puck in a great position to rip one by Vanecek, but Hughes hit the crossbar. That was a painful occurrence, as New Jersey came so very close to taking the 2-1 lead. Blackwood stopped the last few Capitals shots of the period, and the game was heading to 0vertime. The Devils managed to get at least a point in now their third straight game.
Devils Fall In Overtime
Nicklas Backstrom and Pavel Zacha squared off at center ice, and Backstrom won the faceoff. Overtime was underway. Conor Sheary gathered the puck and rushed in on a breakaway only 12 seconds in, but Blackwood kicked the right pad out. A huge save from Blackwood saved the Devils from defeat, and the teams played on. The Devils maintained possession for a little bit, passing it around looking for good chances. Jack Hughes maintained possession in the right corner of the Caps zone and sent a pass across to Johnsson. Johnsson skated in and was unable to get a shot off, losing the puck on a wide-open chance.
Hughes had a breakaway of his own off of a perfect pass from Damon Severson, but his backhander was stopped by Vanecek. Hughes wiped out, and play continued on. P.K. Subban also made a nice pass across the zone a few moments later, looking for Travis Zajac to tip it in. Zajac’s chance was saved by Vanecek and Dmitry Orlov took the puck the other way. He was left wide open and he blasted a wicked wrist shot by Blackwood. The Washington Capitals defeated the Devils yet again, this time by a score of 2-1. New Jersey is now 0-5-2 against the Capitals in 2021.
Looking Ahead For The Devils
The Devils were in another close game against a high-caliber opponent but came short again. A few things went wrong including getting hammered in their own zone or quite sometime in the second period, resulting in a goal. New Jersey also has to convert on their chances. Johnsson and Hughes had golden chances in overtime but were unable to convert. Our Devils hung in there yet again and left it all on the ice, it’s just a matter of time before it all comes together. It is also encouraging that the Devils now have points in three straight games. The New Jersey Devils are back in action on Sunday vs the Capitals again at the Prudential Center. The puck drops at 3 PM as the Devils and Capitals close out the season series.
Three Stars Of The Game
- WSH- Dmitry Orlov- GWG
- WSH- John Carlson- 1 Goal
- NJD- Mackenzie Blackwood- 38 saves on 40 shots