Game 80 Recap: Islanders get Moosed (again)

New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders

(headline by @tomheaney1)

Three stars of the game:

3rd star: Zach Parise (2 assists)

2nd star: Patrik Elias (1 goal, 1 assist)

1st star: Travis Zajac (Game winning goal)

Johan Hedberg entered Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders having allowed just one goal in two games against the Isles this season, so it seemed like a good decision by coach Pete DeBoer to start Hedberg on Tuesday.  “Moose” responded by stopping 19 of 20 shots he faced, and picked up his 17th win of the season.  The Devils didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to move up to 98 points, and actually close to within three points of fifth place Philadelphia with two games remaining.  Here’s how it all unfolded.

78 seconds into the game, the Devils drew first blood.  Petr Sykora fed Patrik Elias in the slot, and #26 picked up his 26th goal of the season, and the Devils, who had scored 11 goals in their last two games, were up 1-0.  That lead vanished just a few minutes later.  The Islanders put together a strong shift in the Devils’ zone, and it was capped off by Matt Moulson’s backhander on a rebound that tied the game.  Once Elias scored, the Devils didn’t really generate much offense in the period.  They failed on a power play, but got another chance on the PP to start the second period.  The first period also featured a Cam Janssen-Michael Haley scrap.  We’ll call it a draw.

It took all of 22 seconds in the second period for the Devils to cash in on the power play.  Zach Parise and Patrik Elias worked the puck along the right side, and Parise found Travis Zajac, who slammed it from the slot and the Devils took a 2-1 lead.  The Devils had some nice stretches of puck possession in the second period, but the real story of the period was learning of Jacob Josefson’s broken left wrist.  He’ll miss 4-6 weeks, which would lead to about the middle of the second round of the playoffs or the beginning of the Eastern Conference Finals, should the Devils advance that far in the playoffs.

The third period was pretty uneventful for most of the period.  Only ten shots were fired between the teams, although the Islanders did put some pressure on Hedberg and the Devils late in the period.  Ilya Kovalchuk iced the game with 55 seconds remaining, as he scored the empty netter on a nice chip feed from Zach Parise.  Kyle Okposo then lost his mind a bit, and took a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike.  That was the final blow, and the Devils held on to win, 3-1.

Despite losing Josefson, the Devils dominated the faceoff circle.  They won 26 of 44 draws, which helped them dictate the pace of the game.  Again, it wasn’t their best game, but it was good enough to move up to 98 points.  They still haven’t figured out who they’ll face in the first round of the playoffs, though.  Early in the week, it looked like an almost sure bet that the Devils would face the Florida Panthers, but Florida blew a 3-0 lead and lost to Winnipeg in overtime, and with the Rangers win over Philadelphia, the Devils clinch 6th in the conference, so they won’t face Boston, but could face Florida, Washington or Pittsburgh in the first round.

The Devils are in Detroit on Thursday and close the regular season Saturday afternoon against the current 7th place team: the Ottawa Senators.

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Posted on April 3, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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