Talking Red

Game 16: Devils Unaware Of Game Against Ottawa, Lose In Shootout

Posted in on by Dan Pennucci

Based on the sample size of games this season, it has been easier to say that slow starts have doomed the Devils rather than being able to finish. Not so on Monday.
Through the first five minutes of the President’s Day matinee at The Rock against Ottawa, the Devils very much looked like a team that was more than acutely aware that their opponents were down their top two players. After all, how hard can it be to beat an Ottawa team that is without both Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. The Maple Leafs managed to shut out Ottawa on Saturday, so surely the Devils would be able to have their way with the Sens.

79 seconds into the game, the Devils definitely appeared to relax. Stephen Gionta slammed home a rebound from Ottawa’s towering netminder, Ben Bishop, off a Steve Bernier shot. Despite the auspicious start, New Jersey fell 2-1 in a shootout to the depleted Senators in front of crowd forced to witness this game. The loss was New Jersey’s third in its last four games.

New Jersey had several more legitimate scoring chances throughout the game, including a Bobby Butler shot off the post in the first period and Alexi Ponikarovsky being denied in close on a backhand midway through the third period, as well as several key blocked shots from the Senators. Credit must be given to Ottawa, who definitely made every effort to knot up the contest immediately, relying on the strong play of Bishop to get back in the game, eventually.

The Devils didn’t play with the type of urgency they had against Pittsburgh last weekend and only managed four shots on goal in the second period and failed to convert either of their power play chances, wasting a solid start from Martin Brodeur.

The save on Ponikarovsky loomed large several minutes later when Daniel Alfredsson equalized from close range as several Devils’ defenders found themselves scrambling after the puck went within millimeters of exiting the zone before Kyle Turris chipped it around the boards and behind the goal to Jakob Silfverberg who slotted the puck in front to Alfredsson for an easy backhanded finish early in the third.

Marek Zidlicky (shocking) and Bryce Salvador were caught badly out of position on the goal as the puck appeared to be heading out of the zone, but was kept in by the unseen force that is present at every Devils’ defensive zone; a force that seemingly blocks the neutral zone and requires more effort to reach than the sewage pipe Andy Dufresne crawled through to bust out of Shawshank.

New Jersey, was then forced to kill off a power play to begin overtime in order to preserve a point, forcing Brodeur to make consecutive saves on Alfredsson and Zach Smith as the kill was expiring.

Silfverberg scored the eventual shootout winner for Ottawa, firing a slick wrist shot over Martin Brodeur’s glove before former Ottawa Senator Bobby Butler misfired on the Devils’ last attempt. Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias also failed to convert their attempts for New Jersey.

New Jersey has lost three of its last four games, managing only the comeback win against Philadelphia last Friday in this recent string of contests. The Devils showed up and seemed to assume that beating Ottawa would be easy, an assumption no doubt emboldened by their quick start, yet the urgency needed to put Ottawa away never showed up.

Notes and Highlights:

-Ryan Carter left the game with an apparent shoulder injury midway through the second period and did not return. Carter told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti that he felt fine following the game and that he did bang his head on the play. There is no word on whether Carter will play Thursday in Washington.

-Andrei Loktionov played 9:31 in his Devils’ debut after swapping places in Ottawa with Jacob Josefson. He saw a few shifts with Adam Henrique in the third period following Carter’s exit.

-Krys Barch played 4:36 over seven shifts, notching just one hit. One has to begin to wonder, as it was addressed on this past week’s Talking Red podcast, what serviceable role Barch provides. Wouldn’t this time be better suited making a line of Loktionov, Buter and Stefan Matteau.

-David Clarkson racked up four shots on goal and 14 penalty minutes thanks to a series of events at the end of regulation where he was whistled for spearing and a 10-minute misconduct while Ottawa’s Chris Neil received 10 minutes for head-butting. Neither Clarkson nor Patrik Elias were available for overtime.

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