Andersen, Nylander Spoil Travis Zajac’s Return To The Ice

Frederik Andersen was fantastic, as he stopped all 42 shots he faced en route to a 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

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Game Summary

In what was Travis Zajac’s season debut, the Devils failed to come out on top after William Nylander scored in the waning seconds of overtime to defeat the New Jersey Devils by a score of 1-0. Nylander fired a shot, which took a deflection off Kyle Palmieri’s leg, with just two seconds left in overtime for the lone goal of the game. There was no shortage of scoring chances for the Devils as they had 33 in all situations while firing 42 shots at Frederik Andersen, who was fantastic in net for the Maple Leafs. The Devils played one of their best games of the season and will look to carry it over when they take on a high-flying Winnipeg Jets team on Saturday.

Game Notes

  • Despite not ending up with two points, the New Jersey Devils played arguably their best game of the season last night. They out-attempted Toronto 49-46 at even-strength and outshot them 42-25 for the game. The Devils haven’t been able to hold many opponents, if any, under 30 shots on goal a game this season. On average, Schneider had been facing 35.3 shots on goal a game, so last night was definitely a step in the right direction. If they outplay their opponents like that on a more consistent basis, they’ll have an easier time coming up with two points than they have in some of their comeback performances in the early parts of this season.
  • After returning from injury well ahead of schedule, Travis Zajac looked to be in pretty good form in his return to the ice. He logged 16:30 of ice time (including 1:30 shorthanded), and had two shots on goal while playing on the second line with Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford. While Zajac didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was still noticeable and made a few good defensive plays that we’ve come to know from him over the years. His return to the lineup couldn’t have come at a better time and now gives John Hynes and his staff a matchup center they can give tough defensive minutes to.
  • With Travis Zajac returning, it seemed possible that John Hynes may’ve reunited him with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, but I thought it was a smart decision to leave those two on a line with Nico Hischier. Both Hall and Palmieri had a team high seven shots on goal with the trio finishing at 57% possession, the best of the Devils forward lines. Keeping these three together gives the Devils a legitimate offensive threat while allowing John Hynes to give Travis Zajac the tougher defensive assignments, which will be beneficial for the team going forward.
  • Filling in for an injured Mirco Mueller, Ben Lovejoy quietly had a solid outing for the Devils last night. He was on the ice for fifteen shot attempts as opposed to six against. He also had three shots on goal and logged just over fourteen minutes of ice time. With Mueller out for 10-12 weeks, Lovejoy will likely find himself playing on a regular basis from here on out. If New Jersey can get performances such as last night’s from him more often, it’ll go a long way help fill the void left by Mueller as he recovers from a broken collarbone.
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