The New Jersey Devils opened the 2013 season with a win against the division-rival New York Islanders. Martin Brodeur played well between the pipes, Travis Zajac and David Clarkson provided the offense, and the Devils jumped out to a quick two points.
I was extremely impressed with the pace of the game in the first period. The Devils moved the puck well and had a few good scoring opportunities. New Jersey's defense also played a key role in the first period, limiting the New York Islanders to a mere three shots on goal. Ilya Kovalchuk was in mid-season form, as was Martin Brodeur. The Devils and Isles went into the intermission locked up in a scoreless game.
The Devils came out strong again in the second period and finally cashed in on an opportunity. With 5:59 to play in the middle period, Travis Zajac opened the scoring off a beautiful feed from Ilya Kovalchuk. Henrik Tallinder tallied the second assist on Zajac's first goal of the season. The defense did its job again, holding the Islanders to seven shots. Brodeur looked flawless and kept New York off the board for a second consecutive period.
Things got interesting in the third period. New York tied the game up 7:12 into the third frame on a goal from Travis Hamonic (1). The power play goal came too easily for Hamonic, who stood wide open in front of Brodeur as three Devils' defensemen got caught in the corner. David Clarkson responded just over a minute later with a wrist shot that trickled through for his first goal of the year; Patrik Elias and Mattais Tedenby assisted Clarkson's eventual game-winning goal. The Islanders went 0-for-2 on the powerplay in the third (not counting the penalty assessed to Elias with two seconds remaining) and failed to capitalize on several key chances.
My Thoughts: The Devils played strong tonight and looked good. Rookie Stefan Matteau was focused and seemed ready to play tonight. Hopefully, we will see a lot more out of him this season. If Brodeur can keep up his stellar play, the Devils will be back into the postseason with ease. The absence of Adam Henrique is also big for New Jersey right now; once he is back, the offense will pick up and we will not see many one-goal games.
The puck movement was also extremely impressive tonight. With the extended lockout and lack of preparation time, I was worried that New Jersey might come out flat. That was not the case at all, and thankfully so.
New Jersey is back in action on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly will travel to Newark to play the Devils in their home opener, which will be broadcasted on NBCSN. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM. I will see YOU at the ROCK as we raise yet another banner to the rafters at the Prudential Center.