Talking Red

Game 29: Devils Squander Late Lead Fall In Shootout

Posted in on by Dan Pennucci

Well, that just happened.

66 seconds away from their third win in four games, the Devils see their former star set up an unlikely equalizer, forcing overtime and another shootout loss for New Jersey, as Brian Gionta and the Habs stole a 4-3 victory in Newark Wednesday. The Devils are 0-5 in the shootout this season and have scored just one goal in their last 23 attempts, likely karmic payback for the years where they rode shootout success to Atlantic Division title.

While Lars Eller and David Desharnais snuck pucks by Cory Schneider in the shootout, it was Montreal’s captain, the man who still (and probably always will) holds the New Jersey franchise record for goals in a single season, 48, that delivered. Joining the play as an extra skater after the Habs pulled Peter Budaj, the former Devil leaned into a puck on its way out of the zone, blasting a slap shot toward Schneider and Desharnais, who was parked in front of the crease for a deft deflection and a tie game.

Other than Desharnais, the other excited man on the ice was the Habs’ P.K. Subban, whose horribly-timed defensive zone turnover slid perfectly to Patrik Elias for a slick top-shelf finish over Budaj from close range, giving the Devils the 3-2 lead with 66 seconds left, a lead that’s usually secure.

Save for the Elias goal, the puck didn’t bounce New Jersey’s way too often, as Travis Zajac was denied at point-blank range twice by Budaj and Eric Gelinas nearly dented the post with a wrist shot in the first period shortly before Gionta opened the scoring off a seeing-eye pass from Tomas Plekanec. The 1-0 scoreline held through the second period before Andrei Loktionov knotted up the contest at 4:19 of the third period. The Devils then secured an all-too-brief 2-1 lead thanks to a Michael Ryder snipe off of a nifty feed from rookie Reid Boucher in his NHL debut.

The Devils held tight for the next six minutes, weathering several Montreal scoring chances and getting a few of their own, only to be denied by Budaj before Lars Eller tied the game at two. Receiving an Alexander Galchenyuk pass in the slot, Eller put a soft backhand shot toward goal which deflected off the skate of Adam Henrique and fell perfectly to Eller who was able catch Schneider while he was moving across the crease, leaving the five-hole open.

For a game which featured only one goal through 40 minutes of play, Montreal and New Jersey played an up-tempo tilt with plenty of opportunities going both ways, albeit with the Devils finding themselves on the short end of a game they, by all accounts, could have won. Shots were slightly more even than the lopsided 30-17 line from Monday’s contest in Quebec, with the Devils getting four more on Budaj than the 30 the Habs put on Schneider. Regardless, Montreal took two games from New Jersey thanks to opportunistic play.

Devils fans have buy cymbalta online best price seen this game and Monday’s game too many times over the last season with the squad not able to secure a victory despite having advantages to do so.

New Jersey faces Detroit on Thursday before battling the Rangers on Saturday.

Reid Boucher made his much publicized NHL debut in Wednesday’s contest after grabbing 18 points in 21 games with Albany (AHL). He grabbed 63 goals for the Sarnia Sting last season in the OHL. He wore No. 15 in his debut, former captain Jamie Langenbrunner’s old number.

Boucher played 12:20 in the game, notching the assist on Ryder’s goal and put two shots on net. The second of which saw him battle for the puck through several Montreal players and put a quick wrister on Budaj. Boucher has a sharp release and showed much patience on his assist. It’s easy to see how he scored 63 goals in the O despite not being physically dominant.

He started the evening on a line with Elias and Steve Bernier.

-After leaving Monday’s game against Montreal with a lower-body injury, Adam Henrique did play Wednesday, finishing a minus-1 with two shots on goal in 19:26 of ice time.

-The Zubrus-Zajac-Jagr line generated several quality scoring chances and sustained pressure but were unable to find the net.

-Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play, going a combined 0-for-5.

-Schneider played a solid game in keeping the Devils in the contest after falling behind in the first period. The first two goals saw him victimized by a seeing-eye pass and unfortunate deflection while the third was also a deflection by an unmarked player in front of the crease. He stopped 27 shots in the game but neither of the shootout attempts he faced.

-There was a fight in the contest as Cam Janssen scrapped with Brandon Prust early in the first period after Prust took umbrage with a legitimate body check laid on Montreal’s Alexander Galchenyuk by Janseen. The Devils’ resident pugilist played a mere 5:49 in the contest.

-Galchenyuk has proven difficult for the Devils to handle as he had a goal and an assist over the home-and-home series. The dynamic and utterly skilled prospect was teammates with Boucher at Sarnia; Galchenyuk should be a candidate for the one of the final spots on Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Ryan Carter was placed on injured reserve Tuesday due to injuries stemming from a fight Saturday night against Buffalo’s Marcus Foligno. He did not play Monday in Montreal.

-Not many fans probably answered the MSG trivia question correctly, as it dealt with the last NHL player to score in his NHL debut. The answer: Petr Vrana back in November 2008. Vrana, a former second round pick in 2003, played a mere 16 games for the Devils before returning to Europe, where he currently plays for Prague in the KHL.

-Jacob Josefson was a healthy scratch for the Devils.

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