In a game the Devils seemingly dominated from start to finish, they’d fall by a score of 3-2 to the Winnipeg Jets. The Devils fired 43 shots but Hellebuyck was consistently up to the challenge, ending Halls 26 game streak in the process.
Ehlers came blazing into the offensive zone and created some chaos, which led to Zajac losing track of Laine who pounced on a loose puck just outside of the crease and buried it five-hole on Schneider to give the Jets the 1-0 lead. Not a good start and a goal Schneider I’m sure would want to have back. The Devils peppered Hellebuyck with shot after shot, including Zajac who was barely stopped on a great chance alone in the slot.
Nico would draw a hooking call, but the Devils couldn’t muster much zone time. Later Coleman was sprung on a breakaway, did a forehand to backhand deke that beat Hellebuyck but he airmailed the shot over the net. Coleman then tipped a pass from Hall while cutting to the crease that was just blocked wide, but he was hit with a high stick giving the Devils a four-minute power play. They generated some opportunities but were unable to score before the first period ended, carrying over a two-plus minute power play to the second period.
Coleman had another great look in front of the net early in the second but was unable to get a shot off following the feed by Noesen. The Jets were able to successfully kill off the remainder of the power play without giving up any real dangerous chances. With roughly 14 minutes remaining in the second, Schneider stood tall and stopped back-to-back scoring opportunities by Ehlers.
At the 7:15 mark, Zajac was attempting to cut to the middle to get the puck out of his zone when Copp stepped up and leveled him with a check right to the chest, leaving Zajac clearly shaken up and eventually out of the game.
This hit forced the Zajac line to attempt a line change slightly earlier than expected, leading to Armia quickly entering the zone and letting a wrister go from the slot that beat Schneider to his glove side. This was another one that Schneider most certainly wants back and a save his team desperately needed him to make.
The Devils would respond just over 3 minutes later, as Nico curled in his zone and found Palmieri with a beautiful stretch pass that sent him in alone on a breakaway. Coming down the right side Palmieri made no mistake and lifted the puck just under the crossbar, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
The Devils were really buzzing early, getting some grade-A chances that just couldn’t find the back of the net. Boyle had two chances right on the doorstep just a minute in but was unable to put his backhanders past Hellebuyck. The Devils than would go to their 4th power play opportunity after Winnipeg took a bench minor for too many men on the ice.
After nearly 10 minutes of possession and pressure from the Devils, Winnipeg would take advantage of their first opportunity and buried it. Byfuglien found himself with room near the left face off circle and hammered a slap shot off the post. The rebound would kick over to Ehlers who was all alone and seemingly the only one who knew where the puck went as he deposited it into the empty net, making it 3-1 Jets.
Nico again would be involved in the answering goal, as he would dish it to Hall who found Butcher at the point with space. Butcher let a wrist shot go that was saved but created chaos around the net. After bouncing off of Bratt, Nico bats the puck out of mid-air back towards the goal and banks it in off Hellebuyck.
With the puck down in the corner, Maroon checked Morrissey into the boards trying to create a turnover, but would end up going off to the box. The Devils would successfully complete the kill, including a huge save off the knob of Schneider’s stick. The Devils kept throwing pucks toward the crease, but the final horn would sound and the game would end 3-2 in favor of the Jets.
Cory Schneider had another rough outing. A bit of bad luck that Laine was the one on the puck for the first goal, but that’s a save that could have really boosted the team as well as his own confidence. The second goal by Armia is just inexcusable and one save that Schneider needs to make every time.
Blake Coleman also found himself having another tough night. The breakaway miss loomed large in this one, as he had an empty net and simply couldn’t hit it. He had some sloppy turnovers trying to force the puck to the slot and missed on some other nice opportunities. His aggression on the PK is still a plus, but I find him constantly leaving me wanting more for the amount of ice time he’s receiving.
Michael Grabner was once again lost in the shuffle during this game. While the Devils registered over 40 shots, Grabner only managed to record one in 14:07 of ice time and really never was in a dangerous position. I’m not sure what needs to change, but perhaps a switch to put him up on the right wing alongside Hall and Hischier. Either way, he needs to find out where he is going to fit and contribute.
Kyle Palmieri really shined in this one and seemed to take his game to another level following his first goal. He was confident, aggressive, and determined in trying to create offense and drive the puck to the net. He also led the team with 7 shots on goal and was second in ice time of the forwards only to Hall.
If it seemed like Sami Vatanen was on the ice the entire game, it’s because he was. Sami had 27:46 TOI and was very visible yet again in the offensive zone. He quickly stepped in and has become our best defenseman who consistently is able to log heavy minutes while still being effective.