Despite a second period comeback, the Devils (21-21-10, 52 points) fell to the Calgary Flames (27-24-3, 57 points) 4-3 in overtime on February 3 at the Prudential Center.
After being down 2-0 early in the second period, thanks to goals from center Sean Monahan (assisted by Johnny Gaudereau and T.J. Brodie) and winger Kris Versteeg (assisted by Brodie and Gaudreau), the Devils awakened. At that point, the Devils were threatening in Calgary’s zone, but they could not capitalize on their scoring chances.
Center Adam Henrique put the Devils on the board after converting a back-pass behind the net from winger Miles Wood, who allowed Henrique to wrap around the net and put it past Flames goaltender Brian Elliott, 8:36 into the second period. The Devils found themselves on the power play, and winger Pavel Zacha would take advantage. After winger Mike Cammalleri shot the puck wide of the net, the puck found its way in front of the net, where Zacha would squeak the puck past Elliott to tie the game at 2, 11:39 into the period (Henrique with the secondary assist).
Eight minutes later, the Devils would find themselves on the power play yet again and capitalize yet again. With a Wood shot in front of the net, the puck managed to find its way towards winger Kyle Palmieri, deflecting off the knob of his stick into the net to give the Devils the 3-2 lead heading into the third period (winger Taylor Hall with the secondary assist).
The lead seemed secure, however, on a three on two breakaway. Center Matt Stajan redirected a pass from Brodie into the back of the net past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, tying the game (Micheal Ferland with the secondary assist). Both teams saw opportunities in scoring a goal before the end of regulation. Their equal determination sent the game into overtime.
The game ended up being another overtime loss at home for the Devils, as the Flames ended the game 1:13 into overtime when center Mikael Backlund scored on Schneider, thanks to an end-to-end pass from Brodie, who notched his fourth assist of the game. Elliott held up on his end, stopping 26 of 29 shots (0.897 save percentage). The Flames left Newark with two points, while the Devils left the ice to the locker room with one point.
“It’s a situation where we got down and played a great second period that gave us the opportunity to take the lead,” said Devils head coach John Hynes. “We made a mistake on the third goal against…and we had a misread on the three-on-three. We’d like to have two points instead of one, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t think you look at it for moral victories,” said Palmieri. “It’s time to string wins together. A point is nice but we need two points.”
It was another game where defensive breakdowns cost the Devils points. Throughout his career, Schneider has shown he is a top goaltender in the league. He stopped 34 of 38 shots (0.895 save percentage).
However, Schneider can only stop so many shot attempts until one hits the back of the net, which came on the game winning goal in overtime.
“We’ve had some issues in overtime this year,” said Schneider. “It’s not very good compared to last year. I think we have to figure what’s happening, we’re giving up some easy goals.”
“He made some big saves for us,” said Coach Hynes. “We had some breakdowns. We get three goals in the game. I say on the third goal, we’ve got to do a better job in front. [Schneider] gave us the opportunity to win the game and we have to make some better decisions in front.”
Adam Henrique entered this game on a hot streak, and it didn’t come to an end Friday night. Henrique scored his third goal in three consecutive games. Not only his goal scoring ability, but his playmaking ability played a key factor in the goals scored by the Devils.
The power play unit put on a showcase against the Flames, where they capitalized on two of three power play opportunities. If the Devils keep this up, the opposition will rue the day that they get the call to the penalty box.
The Devils are jam-packed in the Eastern Conference standings at 52 points, which is a domino effect of the poor plays from the Colorado Avalanche (13-33-2, 28 points) and Arizona Coyotes (16-28-6, 38 points). The Devils sit six points behind the final wild card spot, currently held by the Philadelphia Flyers (58 points). In addition to that, they are two points ahead of last place in the Eastern Conference. In regards to the final wild card spot, eight teams are behind within eight points, which will make this playoff race very interesting the last two months of the season.