Capital Punishment: 3rd Period Penalties Almost Upend Devils, Still Manage 3-2 OT Win
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Jacob Josefson (NJD) (1 assist)
2nd Star: Mike Green (WAS) (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st Star: Ilya Kovalchuk (NJD) (GWG goal)
The Devils seemed to be lacking a certain pep in their step to start the 1st period of Friday night’s game. Their offense seemed uncoordinated, and they were unable to put a lot of pressure on the Capitals to start the game. Washington, however, was dominant through the first half of the period. Brodeur was called upon to weather an early storm by a desperate opponent, and as he did for the first two games, Marty was up to the task. As the period went on, and more fans began to make their way through the snowstorm outside, the momentum began to shift the Devils way. The Devils were given their first power play of the night, as Jay Beagle was called for holding, but with just 7 seconds left on the power play, Kovalchuk was called for hooking. The Devils penalty kill looked strong, as usual, and in the closing seconds, Josefson broke free from the zone with Gionta trailing. As Tomas Kundratek swatted the puck away from Josefson in front of Neuvirth, his clearing attempt landed directly on Gionta’s stick, resulting in the first goal of the game as Gionta hammered home a golden opportunity at 13:55 of the first period.
During the second period, the Devils managed a fair amount of pressure on the Capitals, but Neuvirth held strong for the majority of the period, keeping his team within striking distance. It wasn’t until a pair of Capitals penalties occurred that the Devils would get the better of the Capitals netminder. Nicklas Backstrom was called for tripping Andy Greene at 18:15, and Jay Beagle was called for the same infraction on Zajac just 18 seconds later. This gave the Devils a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1:42 late in the period. At the 19-minute mark of the period, Neuvirth stopped Zidlicky’s point shot during the power play, but was unable to control the rebound, which bounced directly to the stick of Patrik Elias, who easily put it away for his first goal of the season. The Devils would take this 2-0 lead into the third period.
Just when it began to look like the Devils would have an easy road to a 3-0-0 start, things began to turn in the Capitals’ favor. Just before the 7-minute mark of the final period, the Devils were called for Too Many Men on the Ice. Little did the Devils and their fans realize, that this would begin a string of penalties for the Devils. Just after Tedenby served the bench minor, Zidlicky would be called for high-sticking Jason Chimera. Two minutes and nine seconds later, Andy Greene would be called for tripping. Then, just 41 seconds later, the Devils would be assessed two bench minors at 11:52, one for Too Many Men on the Ice, and one for Abuse of Officials. All of this resulted in the Devils taking 5 penalties in a span of 5:13. On the ensuing 5-on-3 after the double bench minors, the Capitals would score their first goal of the game, as Mike Ribeiro tallied his first goal of the season. The Capitals would still have a 5-on-3 advantage after the goal was scored, but were unable to convert. Shortly after the penalties expired the Devils were able to generate some offense, but Neuvirth was able to make some sensational saves to keep his team within one. Then, after some poor passing and clearing attempts within the Devils zone, Mike Green wound up with the puck at his blue line, and a quick, screened snap shot found its way to the back of the net. The game that the Devils easily had won at the end of the 40 minutes, had just been tied.
Jersey’s Team would apply some heavy pressure to end regulation, including a gorgeous one-timer by Kovalchuk that sailed just wide, but we were destined for overtime. Early in the overtime period, things seemed to be going back in the Devils’ favor. Mike Green had been called for interference on Patrik Elias, and the Devils offense was buzzing on the power play. Try as they may, though, the Devils were unable to put home that game-winner just yet. The two-minutes past, and the game was still tied 2-2. As the final minute of the overtime period started, it seemed imminent that the Devils would be entering their first shootout of the 2013 season. But the Devils had other plans. Elias, Kovalchuk, Greene, and Zidlicky broke into the Washington zone in the closing seconds. Elias sent a saucer pass over to Greene, who fanned on his open-net attempt. The puck rebounded off the corner boards and to Zidlicky, who sent the pass below the left face-off circle to a wide open Kovalchuk. Kovy sent a wrist shot just past Neuvirth with 20.5 seconds left to give the Devils their third win of the season. With his assist on the goal, Elias took title of the Devil with the most career points against the Capitals (52).
Wow. Was it a pretty win? Absolutely not. Was it the game that Devils fans hoped it would be? Not even close. But none of that matters, as the Devils got a win and advanced to 3-0-0 on the season, their best start since 2002-03. Sure, the ugly wins are tough to watch, and looking at how the Devils played in the third frame, some might say they didn’t even deserve the 1 guaranteed point from overtime. But it’s games like this that the great teams find ways to win. Despite Washington gaining all of the momentum late in the game, the Devils managed to fight back and take away two points. Martin Brodeur, despite giving up two goals tonight, is still putting up some incredible numbers this season and making extraordinary saves look routine. Ribeiro’s goal snapped a 125-plus minute shutout streak that Brodeur had started late in the game against the Islanders on Saturday. The Devils penalty-kill also remained strong. While the Capitals did manage to score on a 5-on-3, throughout the night the Devils killed 7 of 8 penalties (now 16-of-18 on the season).
The woes for the Washington Capitals, however, continued. Team leader Alexander Ovechkin still has not scored, and his frustrations began to show during the game. The Capitals penalty kill (5-of-6) did look a lot better than it has in previous nights, though, despite giving up a PPG to Elias. Usually I’d say that leaving Newark with a point tonight would help boost team morale, but I feel that the way they lost this game, with it easily within their reach late in the game, it will just serve as another back-breaker in an already painful season.
The Devils will now travel to Montreal on Sunday to face the Canadiens (2-1-0). Sunday’s game will be the first one the Devils play against a team with a win this season.
Posted on January 25, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Recap, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Prudential Center, The Rock, Washington Capitals, Win and tagged Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mike Green, Mike Ribeiro, New Jersey Devils, OT Win, Patrik Elias, Prudential Center, Stephen Gionta, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.