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Looking to stay atop the Metropolitan Division standings, the New Jersey Devils topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 in a thrilling shootout victory to help them move to 5-1-0 on the season. The Devils got goals from Drew Stafford (2x), Kyle Palmieri, and Brian Gibbons to help add to what’s been a robust offense through the first six games of the season.
The game was filled with numerous scoring chances and lead changes, as each team came out firing from the opening face-off. Cory Schneider made 33 saves on 37 shots and was peppered with a number of quality shots and scoring chances from the Lightning, specifically when New Jersey was on the penalty kill.
Likewise, New Jersey held their own offensively, equaling Tampa in 5-on-5 shot attempts for the game. On the flip side, they had their fair share of defensive miscues, as evidenced by Andy Greene and Damon Severson’s miscommunication that led to the puck trickling to a wide open Steven Stamkos to give the Lightning a 4-3 lead in the second period.
However, the Devils didn’t quit and showed resiliency in the third period. They had a number of quality scoring chances and managed to tie the game late in the third thanks to a beautiful set up from Nico Hischier, who centered a pass to Drew Stafford, who then swatted the puck past Budaj that would help the game head to overtime.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 18, 2017
After no one was able to score in extra time, the Devils managed to get to a shootout. Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal of the shootout (the second of his career), while Cory Schneider stopped all three Bolts’ attempts to give New Jersey a 5-4 win.
- Nico Hischier was all over the ice last night, tallying two assists and was on the ice for 20 shot attempts as opposed to 17 against. If it weren’t for Peter Budaj, Hischier would have had his first and second goals of his career. Although he may not have a goal yet, he has been creating a number of chances and has had his fair share of scoring chances of his own. If he keeps it up, he’ll get his first goal sooner rather than later. In the mean time, the Devils will gladly take set ups as the one shown above.
- Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Jesper Bratt had a pretty solid game for the Devils in just 11:18 of ice time. He made some crucial plays on the penalty kill, specifically in the final two minutes of the game where the Devils had to kill off a questionable penalty to Pavel Zacha. He’s not going to get on the scoresheet every game, but if he keeps doing the little things as he has through the start of the season, he should find himself having no trouble staying in the lineup as the season progresses.
- Speaking of Pavel Zacha, I thought he played his best game of the season last night. He logged 16:10 of ice time, had four shots on goal (which was as many as he had in the five previous games combined), and was on the ice for 17 shot attempts as opposed to 9 against, the second best margin on the Devils for the game. After a slow start to the regular season, last night was definitely a step in the right direction. If he can consistently play as he did last night, the points will start to come for him.
- While it was a solid night for the Devils at 5-on-5, the same can’t be said for the trio of Johansson/Henrique/Palmieri, who were routinely caved in. Henrique and Johansson were both -10 in shot attempt shot differential when on the ice, while Palmieri finished at -8. I imagine John Hynes will let this experiment last for more than one game, but if the returns are like this on a consistent basis, this line will be broken up quickly. They’ll need to be better going forward, especially if they’re going to be given top-six minutes against tough competition.
- Finally, the Devils discipline (or lack there of) has been an issue through the start of the season. They took five minor penalties and gave up more than 10 shots on goal on the penalty kill, which has also been an issue for them. They’ve had trouble clearing pucks and teams are spending obscene amount of time in the Devils own end when they’re down a man. It’s something they’ll have to clean up in a hurry, or it’ll end up being a serious issue for them sooner rather than later.