On a night where they seemed to do about everything just right, the New Jersey Devils came away with a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres in what was their final game before their mandatory 5-day break. After a lackluster first period, Adam Henrique got the scoring started for the Devils in the second period with a power play goal that banked in off the opposing defender in front of Robin Lehner. New Jersey maintained a 1-0 lead until midway through the third period when Tyler Ennis scored from what seemed like an impossible angle on a shot that Cory Schneider would surely like to have back.
Despite the bad goal against, the Devils maintained their edge and kept the pressure on Buffalo. Taylor Hall drew a high-sticking penalty on Evander Kane and the Devils made sure to take advantage of the opportunity as Pavel Zacha rifled a shot past Robin Lehner for his fourth goal in his last nine games. However, the goal didn’t come without controversy. Dan Bylsma challenged for goalie interference after it appeared Adam Henrique’s stick made contact with Lehner’s glove. After a relatively brief review, it was confirmed to be a good goal and gave the lead back to the Devils. It would end up being enough for the win and with some solid defense the rest of the way, New Jersey finally put an end to their home losing streak.
- There are a few Devils who have been playing really good hockey as of late. We’ll start with Adam Henrique, who scored his fourth goal in his last five games and is now alone for the team lead with 15 goals on the year. He had gotten off to a slow start this season, but is a big reason why the Devils are 3-0-1 since coming out of the All-Star break. If New Jersey is going to make some kind of push when they return from their bye week, they’ll need Henrique to continue contributing consistently in the final weeks of the season.
- Another Devil who’s game has really come alive is rookie, Pavel Zacha, who continues to rack up points. He tallied an assist on Adam Henrique’s goal and scored the game-winning power play goal in the third period. He has 7 points in his last nine games and has given the Devils some much needed secondary scoring that they’ve been lacking this season. Much like Adam Henrique, the Devils need to Zacha to maintain this level to give them a chance of making a push coming out of their bye week.
- He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but Joseph Blandisi had a very solid game last night. He had a couple of really good scoring chances and was +16/-12 in shot attempts when on the ice. He was all over the place, whether it was in an offensive role or throwing his body around and playing physical. If he plays the way he did last night on a regular basis, the points should start coming for him; even in a fourth line role.
- As mentioned in Henrique’s bullet, the Devils are 3-0-1 since coming out of the All-Star break and are 9-5-3 since January 1st. They still have the odds stacked against them as far as making the playoffs, but they’ve at least put themselves in a position to make things interesting. With Schneider returning to form and some newly found secondary scoring, they should be able to make things competitive in the final part of the season if they can keep it up.