Coming off of a 5th straight victory and 1st on the road during the streak, 2nd against the Rangers in that stretch (had to throw that in), the Devils returned home to take on the Blues from St. Louis. As the Devils in the last week have been forming an identity for themselves as a team that can compete with the league’s elite clubs, they would face yet another challange in St. Louis, who in their last 10 holds a strong record of 6-2-2 winning in their last game, looking to extend that to a 2 game win streak. Along with their only matchup of the year with New Jersey, Blues alternate captain and former Devils captain, Jamie Langenbrunner would play in his first game against his former team since being dealt last year to Dallas. JL15 stated in a 1st period intermission interview with Jersey analyst Deb Placey that he was in fact nervous to play against his former club and that it was a delight to see some older teammates but was prepared to play against them.
The Devils would take the ice without Brodeur between the pipes after becoming victim to an injury in Tuesday’s shutout victory over the Rangers. Coach Pete DeBoer stated that Marty is likely to play in Saturday’s matinee against the Panthers. For the Devils, it would be the Moose going head to head against Jarolslav Halak. The goal scoring wouldnt be initiated until the end of the period. Shortly after Barret Jackman got the call for Delay of Game when he dumped the puck up and over the half boards, Zach Parise would put the Devils up on St. Louis 1-0 for his 21st of the year. New Jersey’s powerplay has been making a statement in games of late as they seem to be connecting more and more frequently than in the early stages of the season. Scoring for the period wouldnt be done with Parise’s goal. Shortly after, Blues’ forwards Chris Stewart would knot it up with a little over a minute remaining on the clock. Shots were 7-7 in the 1st, both goalies stopping 6 each in the opening 20 minutes.
In the 2nd period, the scoring would greatly increase as 3 goals were put up on the board, no penalties, and a goalie swap would be highlights of the middle stanza. St. Louis would open the scoring in the 2nd period on a goal scored by David Perron when he put one past Hedberg to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. Perron’s goal was assisted by David Backes; the goal was Perron’s 7th of the year scored 4:50 minutes in. Not long did it take for the Devils to answer the call when Adam Henrique would notch his first point since his return from a strained groin, scoring the goal 45 seconds after Perron’s marker. Henrique would match his jersey number for goals on the year, notching his 14th on a feed from defenseman Andy Greene. Play would remain tied until Patrik Elias would give New Jersey the edge on a fantastic give and go pass from Sykora, to Elias, cross ice pass to Kovalchuk, back to Elias for the goal beating Halak for the Devils’ 3rd goal of the game. Jaro would be pulled from the game and replaced with All-Star goaltender Brian Elliott. Elliott’s performance in net for the remaining time would truly be the difference maker as he went on to single handedly carry the Blues stopping 15-15 shots faced. New Jersey being up 3-2 over St. Louis just needed to avoid another 3rd period collapse to stave off any rally faced in an effort to secure the victory.
Believe it or not, by the period’s end, New Jersey managed to out shoot their opponent in the closing twenty minutes of a period, 9-6. Early, Devils’ defenseman Kurtis Foster would be tossed from the game on a boarding call which cost him a 5 minute major in which was served by Eric Boulton, along with the game misconduct. New Jersey’s PK unit would survive the 5 minute major not allowing the Blues to score. This kill would appear to be a major momentum swing for the Dev’s as they approached the half way mark of the period. During the major penalty, St. Louis would send a man to the sin bin, that man would be David Perron when he was found guilty of tripping. Like New Jersey, St. Louis would too kill off the penalty. St. Louis wrapped up the evening killing 2 of 3 penalties. The third penalty for the Blues would go to another man named David; this time, it’d be Backes. Backes would get the whistle on a goaltender interferance play in which, even from a Devils fan’s perspective and even in regards to what had occured only two nights ago, can say truthfully and honestly, that Anton Volchenkov (who was also involved Tuesday) did give a push into the back of David forcing him into the Moose as a St. Louis shot was rung off the cross bar at the same time. Backes would return to the ice 2 minutes later when the Blues killed off another important Jersey powerplay. The Devils seemed to have added yet another win to the rapidly growing streak when with 5:50 minutes left on the board, Patrik Berglund would tie the game on a shot from the point in which was re-directed in front by Berglund as he placed it inbetween the limbs of Hedberg. The goal would have to be reviewed and a call would be made as well up north to Toronto to review the initial call as it appeared as the puck was tipped with a high stick. After official review, the ruling on the ice would stand, the Devils’ 3rd period woes would continue, and we’d be faced with another tie game which would go longer than 60 minutes.
Overtime came and went… no penalties, no goals, the teams looked very relaxed as though they wanted to just go to the shoot out. 5 shots taken amongst the two clubs in the 5 minute sudden death period. Hedberg made decent saves, as did his counterpart Elliott did for the Blues.
New Jersey’s roster for the shootout would be Kovalchuk, Elias, and Parise matching up against St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie, and Jamie Langenbrunner. The Blues would only need the two shooters due to a shutdown goalie on their end and a lack of scoring from Ilya Kovalchuk who was 8-9 in S.O. attempts on the year as well as Parise and Patty. Oshie would score on a trickler that would get a huge chunk of Hedberg on its way into the depths of the net. T.J. would be the only scorer in the shootout. Kovy would get stuck up on a beautiful poke check by Brian Elliott denying Ilya of his 9th marker in shootouts. With a handful of mixed emotions from the crowd, former Devil Langenbrunner would approach the dot to take his turn. Jamie too would be stoned by the left pad of Moose. Elias would happen to shoot before Langenbrunner setting the mark with the potential “W” on Jamie’s stick after Patty’s attempt which too, like Kovalchuk, would be denied. Immediatly after an eruption of “MOOSE” calls fell from the audience, it would be up to the captain to keep play alive. Parise would deke to Elliott’s left, only to be stoned by the pad on an effort in which appeared to be an avoidance of a potential poke check. The Devils lost. New Jersey had dropped their first game since before the All-Star break, and only their 3rd loss in 12 shootout attempts this year.
The Devils will continue play with a 2nd consecutive Saturday afternoon game, this weekend, New Jersey will play the Florida Panthers who currently reside in the 3rd position with 61pts (by virtue of a tiebreaker with Washington and being Southeast Division leader) on “Devils Head Warmer” promo day. In the season series between the two clubs, the Devils are 1-1-0 in 2 out of 3 meetings this season against the Cats. The teams have scored 6 goals a piece in 2 meetings versus one another this year 4-3 Florida back on November 21st and then 3-2 in a shootout victory mid-December. New Jersey managed 1 point and maintains a 1pt lead over the idle Penguins who sit in 6th with 65 points, New Jersey with 66. The Dev’s trail Philadelphia by 3 points after the Flyers handed Toronto a 4-3 loss tonight at home. With former Devils being a topic of conversation tonight with the return of Lag’s, current Montreal Canadien Scott Gomez scored his first goal in 369 calander days silencing his critics and hopefully putting an end to the website in which pays tribute to the lack of scoring by the 2x Stanley Cup Champ.