Andy Greene is the captain of the New Jersey Devils. Andy Greene played 29 shifts tonight. Andy Greene played 20:49 of tonight’s game. Andy Greene was on the road, as were the New Jersey Devils, so he did not get a lot of ice time against the top line on the Buffalo Sabres. Andy Greene was one of the few New Jersey Devils that did not appear to struggle in the first two periods. Andy Greene played a responsible game as he usually does.
Andy Greene does not play on the New Jersey Devils power play. Andy Greene did contribute on offense tonight. Andy Greene had three shots on goal in regulation. Andy Greene had a positive attempt-differential tonight. Andy Greene drew a penalty in regulation; a high-sticking call on Jake McCabe that ended a Buffalo power play in the dying seconds of the second period. Andy Greene had a good night in regulation.
Andy Greene did start the overtime period with Travis Zajac and P.A. Parenteau. Andy Greene streaked down the middle of the ice and received a pass from Travis Zajac in the neutral zone. Andy Greene had no Sabres in front of him. Andy Greene had a breakaway. Andy Greene was impeded from behind by Evander Kane. Andy Greene was denied a chance to shoot the puck at Anders Nilsson. Andy Greene heard a whistle blew. Andy Greene was awarded a penalty shot, the first in his NHL career. Andy Greene drew a penalty shot in overtime.
Andy Greene skated from the red line with the puck. Andy Greene went to his right. Andy Greene cut to his left. Andy Greene moved to draw Nilsson to move and open up his legs. Andy Greene witnessed Nilsson’s legs moving. Andy Greene fired the puck low through the legs.
Andy Greene scored. Andy Greene scored on a penalty shot. Andy Greene scored on a penalty shot in overtime. Andy Greene made the final score 2-1. Andy Greene turned one point into two for the New Jersey Devils. Andy Greene made the Buffalo Sabres lose, although they received a point for getting to overtime too. Andy Greene made the Devils win their third in a row. Andy Greene made the Devils win tonight. Andy Greene was the hero of the night. Andy Greene is captain of the New Jersey Devils.
The Opposition Opinion: Andy Boron has this recap at Die by the Blade.
I Told You to Expect Goaltending to Be Very Good: Early on in tonight’s game, Keith Kinkaid was tested and tested often. From point blank shots by Marcus Foligno to Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly firing away, Kinkaid had to be great early on. The Devils skaters were just chasing a lot on defense and, in a few cases I’m sure Devante Smith-Pelly would know, just caught behind the play. Fortunately for the Devils, Kinkaid was great. The only goal that beat him was a wide open shot off a loose puck from Buffalo’s current power play specialist, Matt Moulson. No goalie was going to stop that shot.
On the other end, Anders Nilsson received a lot of work. While the Devils look underwhelming at times on offense, Nilsson would likely argue that they were overwhelming at times. Nilsson made 41 saves from all areas around the zone. The HockeyStats.ca location chart shows that New Jersey challenged him quite a bit. He was superb as well. The only goal in regulation that beat him was a slapshot from Yohann Auvitu that saw its way through traffic. I don’t think Nilsson saw it and the shot may have been tipped along the way. It was a goal that came kind of against the run of play. The Devils absolutely built on that and fired another eleven shots on Nilsson while limiting Buffalo to only four more in the period. Nilsson did really well.
All told, my expectation of a low-scoring game with plenty of great goaltender play was met. We’ll see if Schneider and Lehner do the same tomorrow night.
The Underwhelming: The Devils received six power play opportunities lasting 10:44. This included a 1:25-long 5-on-3, a four minute double-minor in the third period, and an abbreviated power play near the start of the third. While the Devils took twelve shots on it, they did not threaten to score for most of that time. The Sabres’ penalty kill was on point all night long. What was troublesome was how the Sabres stuck to their formations and it worked. The triangle 5-on-3 featured two forwards as Josh Gorges and Rasmus Ristolainen were both in the box. And the Devils tried to work around or through it with few results. The “M” formation on the 5-on-3 meant that John Moore and Kyle Palmieri had the puck more than, say, Taylor Hall, and those two didn’t make the most of it. The double-minor featured more attempts to get set up than actually doing so. The first two regular power plays of the game were wastes of time. Yes, Nilsson was great to stop 14 shots across all of that power play time. Yes, the Sabres did their job. The Devils didn’t adjust as much as they needed and they blew chances to either then tie up the game or blow it wide open. Hence, the offensive performance felt underwhelming despite putting up over forty shots on net.
Another contributor was in how Buffalo responded on offense after the Devils made attempts in the first two periods. It dulled the notion that the Devils were putting up as much rubber as they did. The first period was rough as the Sabres’ forecheck and pressure in the neutral zone seemingly made it difficult for the Devils. New Jersey figured it out for 13 shots, but Buffalo matched them in shots and were up 1-0. The Devils out-shot the Sabres in the second, but attempts were in Buffalo’s favor at even strength - which is not a good sign for New Jersey as they were losing throughout the period. The third period better reflected how much the Devils were attacking primarily because the Devils were tighter on defense and limited Buffalo to only a couple of shots. Yes, that’s perception, but it reflects on how I and maybe other fans felt while watching this game.
Big Nights: Taylor Hall, along with Andy Greene, was one of the few Devils skaters that seemingly showed up to play to start this game. Unfortunately, Hall did not score. Fortunately, Hall was an absolute threat to the Sabres throughout the night. He had six shots on net out of nine attempts. Parenteau and Zajac would join his rushes and would contribute five and two shots on net, respectively. That line eventually emerged as New Jersey’s best again. They also contributed to their one goal in regulation; Hall and Zajac received assists on Auvitu’s goal.
Speaking of, I noted on Tuesday that Auvitu really should be receiving power play time over John Moore. He did tonight. While the power play did not He was solid with the puck, his shots were good, and he did score an important goal tonight. While he may not be receiving the same work as Moore, Auvitu continued to be a part of positive possession at 5-on-5 while Moore got caved in again.
Lastly, I really liked Beau Bennett in spots. He ended up with five shots on net to go with plenty of good zone entries, even on the power play. While he has not been productive, I prefer these kinds of performances over, say, Jacob Josefson’s and Pavel Zacha’s from tonight.
Not So Big Nights: Pavel Zacha and Jacob Josefson really did not do much going forward. They were the worst in terms of attempt-differential. Josefson’s most positive moment was getting hit in the face by Kane’s stick in the third period. Zacha, well, he just played beyond ten minutes. Part of their issues has to do with the fact that their linemates have had their own issues. Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri are cold. DSP was more active on offense but was woeful at times on defense. Michael Cammalleri was a scratch. So if they’re not playing so well, then that hurts what they could do.
John Moore and Kyle Quincey were a pairing to at least start the game. This was not very good to start. It got better as the game went on. But these two were once again on the wrong end of attempt-differential and were once again poor-looking by the eye test. I think Jon Merrill replaces one of these two for at least a game by the next road trip. I do not mind that possibility. By the way, Moore leading a 5-on-3 power play with Taylor Hall and Parenteau not getting the puck for shots? That was a bad idea in theory and a bad idea in practice.
Palmieri’s coldness sticks out more than Henrique’s if only because Palmieri’s role is to be a shooter and a scorer. Not scoring is one thing. The shooting left a lot to be desired. Despite all of the power play time, he had one shot on net in 5:47. Palmieri only had two shots on net at even strength and both came in the first period. Three shots out of eight attempts. Henrique at least does other things. Neither was all that good, but Palmieri stuck out more for not doing more.
Notable Sabres: Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, and Brian Gionta gave the Devils plenty of problems early on. Foligno, with four shots, forced Kinkaid to make some of the toughest saves he had to make tonight. Brian Gionta was a pest at points with four shots on net and possibly threw a chicken-wing at Kinkaid when the goalie came out of his crease to snag an airborne puck. Larsson kept the play going forward, leaving the shots to those two. They were more muted in the third period, but in the first two periods, they caused a lot of grief.
Ryan O’Reilly did not play on Wednesday for Buffalo and was a gametime decision for tonight. He did play and he did well. He had three shots, he was positive in possession, and he was particularly good on the penalty kill. Unfortunately for the Sabres, he left the game a few minutes into the third period and would not return. As he’s tied with Kyle Okposo for the team lead in points and he’s the outright leader in shots, that’s a potential big loss - especially for tomorrow’s game.
Congratulations: The assist on Auvitu’s goal is Zajac’s 400th career NHL point. Congrats to the Devils center, who has been very good between Hall and Parenteau over the last week or so.
Food Drive is Tomorrow: Don’t forget to bring food to donate if you’re going to the game in Newark.
Andy Greene?: Andy Greene.
Your Take: The Devils forced one point in this game and gloriously took a second with a penalty shot goal by Andy Greene. What did you think of how the Devils played tonight? What should they adjust for tomorrow’s rematch in Newark? How did you react when Greene scored? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this win in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed along on Twitter with the site account, @AAtJerseyBlog. Thank you for reading.