Game 77 Recap: Shaw-shank redemption in shootout
(headline by @keahpa)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Petr Sykora (Goal)
2nd star: Brent Seabrook (Blackhawks – Goal)
1st star: Martin Brodeur (37 saves)
What separates playoff teams from good teams is that playoff teams find ways to win, even when they don’t necessarily deserve to win. Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks followed that script. After a hot start, the Devils got dominated for most of the night, but they survived Chicago’s tenacious effort to win in regulation and overtime, and left with their 12th shootout win of the season. The win gives them a four-point edge over seventh place Ottawa.
After getting off to slow starts against Toronto and in Pittsburgh, the Devils knew they’d have to get off to a much better start to beat a very strong Chicago team. They did just that. The Devils’ forecheck had the Blackhawks stuck in their own zone for most of the first seven to eight minutes, and the Devils had plenty of quality chances, however, just like the last two games, they were unable to convert their chances. Then, after a failed clearing attempt by Marek Zidlicky, the Devils got caught in their own zone, and Zidlicky wound up taking a penalty. The Devils killed the penalty rather easily, and were awarded a power play after Brent Seabrook hooked Adam Henrique, who was driving the net. The Devils didn’t do much on the power play, but in the dying seconds of the man advantage, the Blackhawks had a terrible line change, and Adam Henrique found Petr Sykora driving the net, and Sykora punched the puck over Corey Crawford to make it 1-0 Devils. It was Sykora’s 18th of the season, and came in the game in which he was bumped to the fourth line.
Sykora barely missed the net on another chance later, but couldn’t make it 2-0. During the final third of the period or so, the Blackhawks started to generate better chances for themselves. Patrick Kane had many of the chances, and on one of them, he skated in from the left circle and backhanded the puck off Brodeur’s pads. The Hawks’ best chance of the period came on a rebound attempt by rookie Andrew Shaw, who swung at a puck in mid-air, and it clipped the crossbar after Brodeur appeared to wipe out. Luckily for the Devils, they escaped the period still up 1-0. The Blackhawks ended the period leading in shots, 13-11.
Chicago continued their surge from the end of the first period into the second period. In the opening minute, after a Zach Parise shot attempt, the Devils broke down and allowed a 3-on-1 against, but Brodeur stood tall and stopped Marian Hossa’s shot. Brodeur and the Devils were under pressure from the Blackhawks for seemingly the entire period. The Devils’ puck possession was limited in the second, but they were good enough defensively and got the saves from Brodeur to negate some sloppy play in their own end and in the neutral zone. Even on their second power play, the Devils were able to generate little offense and didn’t get much on Crawford.
Things got a little tougher when Ilya Kovalchuk took a tripping penalty shortly after the Devils’ power play, and the Blackhawks headed to a power play of their own. 52 seconds later, Bryce Salvador took another penalty. He wasn’t happy with the call, but nonetheless, the Hawks had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:08. The Devils started Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus and Mark Fayne to kill it off, and they did a tremendous job. The Devils kept Chicago to the outside of the rink during the entire 5-on-3, and used Zubrus up high to pressure the Chicago point-men. The Blackhawks did not have a shot on their power play chance, and that seemed to give the Devils a boost to close out the second period. They kept their 1-0 lead after two periods, but did get outshot 10-4 in the second period.
Here’s the pulse of the fan with some tweets:
@kmart890: Just your average lazy period from the Devils. They better pick it up for the next. A 1 goal lead will not suffice.
@HeavyMetalTeddy: We are getting HOF Marty tonight. Not the 39yr old Marty the last few. Offense still trying to click. New lines take time.
The Devils hoped to close the game out in the third period, but protecting leads have been a problem for the Devils this season. Through the first part of the period, it looked like the Blackhawks were going to throw everything they had at Brodeur and the Devils. Marty was helping the Devils bend, but not break. Unfortunately for him, Brent Seabrook’s shot from the point at 8:34 beat him cleanly, and the game was tied. The third period was pretty much all Chicago, although the Devils had some puck possession in the shifts following the goal. The Hawks finished the third period with a 13-4 shots advantage in the period.
After the Hawks went on a power play in the final two minutes of regulation, Marian Hossa did the Devils a favor by nullifying it and giving the Devils a power play heading into overtime. The Devils managed just a pair of weak shots by Patrik Elias and Zach Parise. Other than that, they couldn’t generate anything, and the Hawks killed the Hossa penalty.
So, as 15 Devils games have previously, this one headed to a shootout. In a shocking turn of events, Ilya Kovalchuk did not convert on his backhand deke attempt. Brodeur then stopped Patrick Kane. Zach Parise’s shot was stopped by Crawford, and then Stalberg missed the net. Patrik Elias beat Crawford glove-side, but Sharp kept the Hawks alive. David Clarkson tried to beat Crawford on a backhander, but couldn’t, and Brodeur came up with a game-saving stop on Hossa. Then, Travis Zajac’s deke and high shot beat Crawford. The goal post stopped Andrew Shaw and the Devils stole a point from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Head coach Pete DeBoer surprised many by scratching the struggling Adam Larsson and dressing both Matt Taormina for the injured Anton Volchenkov, as well as the call-up, Peter Harrold. Here’s some reaction to the coach’s decision:
@stephen14099: Do it on a day where Volchenkov isn’t injured. No need to replace him with Harrold.
@MunkyIzBack: Love Adam but he wasn’t playing to his potential [lately]… He needs to rest and get caught up for the playoffs!
@NuCents973: I think it’ll be good for him to watch from the box and see what types of mistakes get us in trouble.
@schmenes: Sometimes a game off can help mentally in the long run.
We’ll see if Larsson is back in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Devils have just five games remaining before the playoffs begin.