After a deflating string of losses leading up to the All-Star break, the New Jersey Devils rebounded by defeating the fellow basement-dweller Ottawa Senators in a shootout by a score of 4-3. The game featured 91 total shots and 53 from the Devils, which was the first time they recorded 50 shots in a game since March of 2009. The most shots that they’ve had in a game was 57 against the Islanders in April of 1999. The shot attempts for both teams totaled over 160, and needless to say, it was a wide-open game.
Damon Severson opened the scoring in the first period through a blast from the point that ended up trickling behind Hogberg and was shockingly the second powerplay unit’s first goal of the season. Hogberg made some fantastic saves early on, denying point-blank chances from Blake Coleman, Jesper Bratt, and Jack Hughes. Ottawa tied the game late in the first period on a Tyler Ennis powerplay goal, his 12th of the season. In the second period, following a Subban – Tkachuk tussle, which looked painfully similar to a juvenile wrestling match, Kevin Rooney regained the lead for the Devils after netting a wraparound, with the assists coming from Greene and Mueller.
In classic Devils fashion, they showcased their utmost creativity in quickly unraveling their lead within the span of a minute in the third period – they let up TWO shorthanded goals on the same powerplay: a Namestnikov 2-on-1 snipe and a Chris Tierney deke around Blackwood featuring poor defensive coverage. Still, it would’ve been unfair for the Devils to lose this way, as they hit multiple posts and generated high-quality scoring chances. In his return from injury, Palmieri tied the game with just under four minutes to play, and Jesper Bratt collected his second assist of the game on the goal. It was Palmieri’s 17th of the season to send the game to overtime.
As expected, the overtime was equally wide open and featured breakaway misses by Severson and Bratt, and point-blank saves by both Hogberg and Blackwood. With both teams shooting blanks in the five minutes of 3-on-3, the game was ultimately decided in a shootout. The Devils won decisively, with two fantastic saves from Blackwood on Duclair and Batherson, and two fantastic goals from Gusev and Hughes. Gusev feigned his usual five-hole shootout attempt and deked Hogberg last second and slipped it through his legs — it was pretty.
The Devils improve to 18-24-7 and remain at 15th in the conference, just under the team they defeated. With how wide-open this game was, it highlights another glaring gap in the roster: a top-six finisher. Outside of Palmieri and Coleman, the Devils can use a true-threat shooter who will finish passing plays from one of their many playmakers.
On Thursday, the Devils face a struggling Nashville Predators’ team at home in John Hynes’ return to Prudential Center.