Talking Red

Game 35: Devils’ Southern Train Wreck Continues

Posted in on by Dan Pennucci

The Devils didn’t lose in a shootout on Saturday. Having dropped their last two contests in the skills competition, the Devils aimed to avoid that scenario at all costs Saturday in Sunrise, Florida against the vaunted Panthers. The Devils didn’t lose in a shootout on Saturday, just in overtime, falling 3-2 thanks to Dmitry Kulikov’s winning goal.

Saturday’s loss bore many similarities with Friday’s loss to Tampa Bay. The Devils surrendered a tying goal in the final minute yet again, this time to renowned sniper Shawn Mattias with 27 seconds remaining, an improvement from giving up the equalizer with 15 seconds left in the game Friday.

New Jersey squandered yet another lead in the final minute of play and saw what should have been two points become one again. The Devils have dropped their last three contests in overtime or a shootout.

Saturday’s winning goal was a bizarre play as the Devils scrambled around the defensive zone. Florida uber-rookie Jonathan Huberdeau split the Devils defense just inside the blue line and went in toward Martin Brodeur, whose poke check knocked the puck loose where it was unable to be controlled by the Devils. Soon enough, the puck found its way to Kulikov on a cross-crease pass where he fired a one timer back cheap ciproflaxin across the moving Brodeur, whose stick was not in the proper position following the poke check.

Matthias scored both of Florida’s goals in regulation while Steve Bernier grabbed both tallies for the Devils, including a third-period power-play marker that staked the Devils to a 2-1 lead. Bernier deftly deflected a Henrik Tallinder point shot past Jacob Markstrom.

Matthias knotted up the game midway through the first period by directing a puck off his skate into the goal past Brodeur after Bernier opened the game’s scoring, finishing off a nice display of passing at the 3:42 mark on a turnover from Florida deep in its own zone.

New Jersey has displayed an uncanny ability to put opponents away the last two games either by giving up late equalizers or failing to add an insurance goal.

The Devils currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with 39 points, five behind Toronto for sixth but with a five-point lead over the Rangers and Islanders (eight and nine) while Carolina is 10th with 34 points.

-Despite being a minus-2 on the evening, Travis Zajac won nearly 74-percent of his faceoffs.

-Andrei Loktionov’s assist gives him points in three straight games and four in the last five.

-Florida outshot the Devils 30-26 in the game.

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