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Devils Battle Hard but Fall in Shootout

The New Jersey Devils dropped a hard-fought game in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Jersey's Team showed a lot of character in this game, however, which should be encouraging to Devils fans. Already without Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils lost Bryce Salvador and Stephen Gionta after the first period to injury. With only sixteen skaters for the second and third period, the Devils battled back from two deficits and did not give up.

The Devils looked sloppy early on and allowed the Senators a lot of pressure time. Chris Phillips got things going early on for the Sens as he knocked in his fifth goal of the season. Phillips' goal came on assists from Mike Lundin and Mika Zibanejad just 2:12 into the game. Coach Peter DeBoer took his timeout shortly thereafter and turned things around; the Devils went on a 7-1 run in shots on goal after the timeout and led in that category, 8-6, after the opening twenty minutes.

New Jersey continued their aggressive play in the second period. Andrei Loktionov had a beautiful chance in front off a rebounded shot but hit the crossbar with the shot. Later in the period, though, Lokti converted on a net-mouth scramble for his sixth goal of the year. Finally, the Devils had been rewarded for all of their hard work.

However, the Senators reclaimed the lead with 16 seconds to play in the middle frame on a goal by Colin Greening. Greening snuck in between Adam Larsson and Andy Greene and scooped up a juicy rebound off a shot by Kyle Turris. Martin Brodeur was angry with himself for leaving such a fat rebound, but this goal was all on the defense.

Yet again, New Jersey showed its resilience in the third period. Marek Zidlicky tallied his fourth goal of the season 6:05 into the final frame and tied the game at two. The Devils held the Sens to just three shots on goal in the third period and picked up a point in the standings on their way to overtime.

Both teams had good opportunities to score in the overtime period. The Senators were unable to cash in on defensive-zone turnovers by Zidlicky and Peter Harrold. Perhaps the best chance of overtime came with just four seconds remaining. Steve Bernier collected a loose puck and moved in 2-on-1 with Adam Henrique. Bernier's shot rebounded off of Bishop's pads and right to Henrique. The puck bounced just a little bit and Adam was unable to get a stick on it; had he been able to shoot the puck, Henrique would have had a wide open net… and the game-winning goal.


Photo by Blair Gables/REUTERS.

In the shootout, Jakob Silfverberg and Patrik Elias were denied on their first attempts. Daniel Alfredsson converted on his chance before Adam Henrique sailed one over the net. Brodeur stopped Kyle Turris; Travis Zajac tied things up for New Jersey. Mika Zibanejad faked out Brodeur and scored on a backhand. Loktionov was stopped by Ben Bishop to seal the deal.

Final Thoughts

  • The Devils played an outstanding game given the circumstances. No Kovy. No Gionta/Salvador (after the first period). And they did it in one of the toughest stadiums in the National Hockey League. You have to give a lot of credit to these guys for trying so hard in such a tough situation.
  • Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac, and Patrik Elias were out on the ice for a long time in the third period and they got the job done. Props to them. David Clarkson missed a couple of chances in the third period–ones that could have won the game for the Devils–but he was also tired. Give these guys some credit.
  • Brodeur did not have his best game since returning from injury, but still only gave up two goals (one on a defensive breakdown). Marty knows what needs to be done in order for this team to win and I have confidence that he will step it up.
  • Bryce Salvador and Stephen Gionta have not yet seen a doctor regarding their injuries; they will, however, accompany the team to Florida as they prepare for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night. I'm not really sure what's going on with the amount of injuries the Devils are facing. A part of me wants to say, "Suck it up and go play," but I know that cannot always be done. Hopefully, Ponikarovsky and Zubrus will return soon. It would also be nice if Salvador and Gionta's injuries are light enough that they can play on Friday night. Only time will tell.

As Pete DeBoer said tonight, "I was real proud of our effort." I was, too. The Devils will face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM. It's time to get over this game and focus on the next. Lace up the skates and get out there and fight.

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