With Damon Severson playing, and Brian Gibbons scratched, the New Jersey Devils went into this game dressing 11 forwards and seven defenseman.
First Period: After a Travis Zajac faceoff win started the game, the Devils immediately iced the puck. Zajac won the second face off to Blake Coleman, who took the puck up the ice. Not much happened on their shift, but Cedric Paquette threw some punches at Stefan Noesen after an offsides call. They didn’t get too into it, but the game was delayed by the Lightning bench gate not closing properly. The delay took at least five minutes.
After the delay, the Zacha line came out with John Moore and Mirco Mueller. After an attempt by the Lightning, the Devils moved the puck up the ice and made Andrei Vasilevskiy cover the puck.
Andy Greene and Damon Severson did well to stop the Lightning counterattack in their first shift together. Shortly afterwards, Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri played a give-and-go, and Vasilevskiy stopped the Hall redirection.
Keith Kinkaid made his first big stop of the game when J.T. Miller got a chance on him off a redirection. Kinkaid got the left pad out, somehow making the save.
The first penalty of the game was taken by Brian Boyle for holding the stick of Brayden Point in a netfront scramble.
Travis Zajac was kicked out of the face off circle to start the penalty kill, and Michael Grabner lost it to Steven Stamkos. Zajac was unhappy. Nonetheless, Ben Lovejoy picked off a pass and cleared it down the ice. Afterwards, the Lightning had trouble getting their power play going, with the Devils getting multiple clears.
After the penalty kill the Lightning continued to attack. Taylor Hall got a counterattack partial breakaway on a long pass after not being called for a trip. Vasilevskiy made the stop and covered the puck.
The first goal of the game came after a turnover by the New Jersey Devils. Brayden Point got the puck, and Damon Severson didn’t get the directive from Andy Greene to take the left side. Point got in close, and the puck went around the iron and in.
After an icing, Michael Grabner got the puck back to Mirco Mueller, who slid the puck to Damon Severson. Severson made a good shot on goal, creating a scramble in front of the net. Nico Hischier jumped on it, and his shot went in the net. Tie game.
The New Jersey Devils did a great job all period at getting their sticks on pucks. Even if they could not often sustain counterattacks into offensive zone time, they didn’t let many Lightning shots get cleanly on Keith Kinkaid.
It was a quick moving period after the delay for the bench door, and despite the Lightning apparently having most of the offensive zone time, they only had six shots, versus 10 for the New Jersey Devils.
Second Period: The first minute of the period did not feature much action, aside from a Blake Coleman pass attempt across the crease to Travis Zajac that was broken up by the Lightning defense. Past the one-minute mark, the Devils got a couple of shots on Vasilevskiy that were covered by the Lightning goaltender.
Ben Lovejoy took a delay of game penalty after sending a bouncing puck over the glass. The Devils paid the price for this penalty, as Alex Killorn got a redirection on a pass from Nikita Kucherov that went into the net.
After the power play goal, the Lightning nearly scored again. Ryan Callahan got the puck from Chris Kunitz with nobody around in the slot, and he fired a shot off the outside of the post. The Devils, sloppy in their own end, needed to improve their defensive performance early in the second period. However, they would not. Tampa Bay made the game 3-1 when Ryan McDonagh shot the puck from the blue line, and Tyler Johnson tipped the puck for the goal.
After the goal, Pavel Zacha and Anthony Cirelli took coincidental minors for roughing after the faceoff. The Devils and Lightning then played four-on-four hockey. Taylor Hall took the puck into the zone and made Vasilevskiy stretch as far out as possible for a pad save, and the rebound attempts by Mirco Mueller and Hall didn’t go in the net.
After Sami Vatanen could not prevent a zone entry by the Lightning and fell behind the play, a puck deflected off of Vatanen and into the net during the four-on-four. Nikita Kucherov tried to center it to Steven Stamkos, but Vatanen stopped the pass, and then hit it into the net with his stick. The goal was credited to Kucherov, and it was 4-1.
After J.T. Miller took two big hits on Ben Lovejoy, John Moore went to confront Miller and Miller threw his arms high at Moore. Only Miller got a penalty for elbowing Lovejoy as he clearly led with his arm on the second hit, and Moore never really got a chance to retaliate.
The power play did okay in the first minute, and got a few attempts off, but the second minute was too slow to get going. With Miller coming out of the box, Brayden Point got the puck, streaking up the ice. Vatanen got his stick on the shot, and the puck deflected out of play.
After Ondrej Palat made a big hit John Moore at center ice, Kyle Palmieri took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for hitting Victor Hedman’s stick. It was unnecessary help for a team that was plenty rough with the Devils.
Of course, the Lightning scored on the power play. Keith Kinkaid lost his stick, and Alex Killorn hit the puck into the net after it was stopped by the loose stick. In a 5-1 game, Cory Schneider came in for Keith Kinkaid. Schneider did well the entirety of the second period that he played, not getting out of position and making all stops necessary.
Sami Vatanen partially made up for his mistakes late in the second period. Skating with the puck into the slot, he fired a shot that rang around the iron and into the net. 5-2 to close out the period.
Third Period: Not much went on in the first few minutes of the period. There were some hits, and the goaltenders looked sharp to start the period.
Cory Schneider made a huge stop closing in on the four minute mark. After stopping a redirection from Kunitz, he stretched out with the glove to deny the second opportunity.
After Miles Wood hit the post, Stefan Noesen and Cirelli got tied up near the blue line. Meanwhile, Alex Killorn was called for a hooking penalty. With 15 minutes left, the Devils had another power play.
The first wave of the power play was threatening, with the Devils getting sustained pressure for nearly a minute and a half. Patrick Maroon got a couple of chances, but could not connect in either of them. The second wave didn’t have much time to get going, and did not. Alas, it was still a three goal game with 13 minutes to play.
A couple minutes later, Miles Wood was sprung on a breakaway. Not with all of his energy, Wood’s move failed and Vasilevskiy didn’t have to make a stop. After the halfway point, Hall nearly got a shot to be redirected by Maroon, and Vasilevskiy was tested time and time again around halfway through the period, once on an Andy Greene shot that left him stretched out with the puck in the crease.
After a demigod-like possession attack by Patrick Maroon, the Lightning were caught in their own zone. Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman joined Maroon, and Zajac set Coleman up for a shot that would make the game 5-3 with eight minutes left.
Buzzing, the Zajac line continued to attack after the goal. However, they could not draw within one on their shift, and then the game started to slow down after they got off the ice.
Nico Hischier had an amazing chance in front, set up by Taylor Hall, but the puck was deflected away and off the post. With under four minutes left, things started looking bleak.
However, Patrick Maroon and Miles Wood would not quit. With the puck coming through the crease, Wood hit the puck into Vasilevskiy, who was partially in the net. He raised his arms in the air, indicating the puck was in the net. Maroon also thought the puck was in. The referee blew the play dead, and they went to take a closer look on the video monitor with three minutes and 14 seconds left. However, there was not enough evidence to give a goal, and it remained 5-3.
As the extra attacker, Patrick Maroon saved an empty net goal, getting an offensive zone entry for the Devils near the two minutes-remaining mark. The Devils just couldn’t get a clean attack going, and Vasilevskiy stopped play with 37 seconds left on a Moore point shot. John Hynes then took his timeout.
Right after the timeout, Will Butcher made a difficult shot on net for Vasilevskiy to save. It was covered. The Devils didn’t get a shot after the next faceoff until they had a re-entry. After a Vatanen shot, Palat took down Taylor Hall around the net for reasons, and the teams got into a scrum with nine seconds left in the game. With the play stopped, Steven Stamkos and the referee had a heated exchange with Andy Greene standing by, as Patrick Maroon chirped at the Lightning. Cory Schneider returned to the net for the last draw, as the Devils stacked the faceoff with their biggest players with power play for the last few seconds. Boyle threw a last hit as the Lightning cleared it, but no endgame scrum ensued.
The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game StatsThe Opposition Opinion: See Raw Charge for the Lightning-centric position.
Petty Issues: The Devils got thrown out of the faceoff circle a lot today - at least I thought they did. I don’t quite remember the Lightning ever having their players thrown out, but on multiple occasions players like Grabner and Maroon were taking draws. I don’t think it changed the game, but this annoyed me.
The Seven Defensemen Experiment: I’m not exactly sure what to make of the performances of really any defenseman. Andy Greene played to an even CF%, but the Devils goaltenders allowed three goals on six shots while he was on at even strength. He was also on the ice for both goals on the penalty kill. He also had a primary assist on the Sami Vatanen goal…
Sami Vatanen had a goal, an own goal, and played the most even strength time with 19:28. He seemed to do okay for most of the game, but his mistake was extremely costly.
Ben Lovejoy took a dumb penalty, drew a penalty, was on the ice for no even strength goals, played well on the first penalty kill, and did not match his performance on the other penalty kill he was on the ice for.
Personally, I don’t know who to sit for next game. I think that seven defensemen could work in the Devils advantage, as there are still forwards that are adding little to no offense for the team.
Michael Grabner: He only played 6:52 at even strength today, and 8:55 total. With eleven forwards dressed, I have to think this is the end of his ice time for the rest of the series. I think John Hynes has had enough of his inefficient play. That is a stunningly low number for a forward in a game without full lines. I have been calling for him to be benched since the game 82 recap, and I think I’ll get my wish in game three of this series. If not, I question why he was played so little.
Holy Hall: Taylor Hall was absolutely great today at even strength. With him on the ice, the Devils outshot the Lightning 24 to seven, along with a 19 to seven scoring chance differential. Somehow, the Devils got outscored two-to-one with him on the ice, still. If this disparity continues, the Lightning better hold on in the upcoming games.
Vasilevskiy: Hats off to the young Lightning netminder today. He played a great game, and is a lot of the reason Tampa Bay won. Towards the end of the game, which was longer than usual thanks to multiple delays, he looked completely gassed when the camera showed his face. Still, he stood strong. The Devils need to continue putting pressure on him to make stops, and hope that he’ll run out of energy, or that his concentration will break during sustained attacks.
Kinkaid: Keith Kinkaid was at fault for approximately zero of the goals allowed while he was in net. Perhaps he could’ve stopped one of them if not for him losing his goalie stick, but when the Devils weren’t preventing shots from getting through, they were allowing absolutely golden ones.
Schneider: What a return for Cory Schneider. The main thing that gives me hope from today’s game is the performance that Cory put together in relief of Kinkaid. He stopped all 10 shots against him, and he looked sharp. He moved across the crease quicker than I’ve seen him move since 2017, he stole goals away trom the Lightning, and he should see the ice in game three - if only for the hope that he’s found his spark. If he has, the Devils will have a chance to get back into the series, as he gave them a chance to get back into this game.
So, what should we do?: I think Michael Grabner needs to come out of the lineup, and Jesper Bratt needs to go in. If any of the defensemen need to sit, Ben Lovejoy made the most mistakes and should sit in that situation - and the 12th attacker, if there is one, should be Drew Stafford assuming Marcus Johansson is not cleared to play by Monday.
The Devils need to forecheck as hard as they possibly can. When pressure was sustained during this game, we got to see how dangerous the team can be. They outshot the Lightning 44 to 26, including a 19 to nine performance during the third period. If they do not have any implosion like the second period, and play like they showed they are capable of - they can tie the series at home in the next two games. That needs to be the goal for this team. To put the pressure on the Lightning would put the Devils in a decent spot to contend for the series. The Lightning did not fare well under pressure today, and this team seems to do best when the expectations are at their worst.
Your Thoughts: What did you make of this game? Do you think the Devils have a chance to tie this series at the Prudential Center? What caught your eye most during this game? Are your thoughts hopeful or full of dread? Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks to those who followed along in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog. This is Chris, and we will see you on Monday night for Game Three.