After suffering two blow-out losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this year, the New Jersey Devils sought a measure of revenge in last night’s third and final meeting. The Leafs would come out surging, with a goal by Ron Hainsey and a pair by John Tavares in the first period to give them a 3-0 and the game an eerie familiarity to the previous contests.
The Devils to their credit did not roll over and die; Blake Coleman struck in the middle period on a rebound to establish a new career high in goals and ensure there was no shutout. Brian Boyle would add a goal 26 seconds later off a beautiful drop pass from Blake Pietila.
Special teams play was few and far between, with the Devils getting two power plays and the Leafs only one; they would all wind up being inconsequential, and each team would have perfect PK on the night.
The Devils would look for a tying goal in the third, yet it was the Leafs who dominated play for large stretches of the period. With Keith Kinkaid pulled for the extra attacker, the Devils could not maintain possession, resulting in Mitch Marner converting an empty net goal to make the final score 4-2. They are now 0-2 in games wearing the primarily white throwback jerseys.
The Game Highlights: Courtesy of NHL.com:
The Advanced Stats: Outside of the trio of Blake Coleman, Travis Zajac, and Miles Wood along with Damon Severson, no one else was at or above 50% CF. Considering how much Severson and Zajac were on the ice against a team that was vastly outplaying them for two period of the game, it cannot be understated how well the second line and Sevs did in terms of controlling play and attempting to get shots on net.
No one got dominated to the point of a CF of lower than 20% as we’ve seen in some recent games, but Steven Santini (CF 29.4%) had a rough night trying to get play going in the other direction. Sami Vatanen and Ben Lovejoy were not much better either, but we’ll have a little more on one of those guys in the next paragraph.
No Blame for Kinkaid: When seeing a Devils game this year when the opposing teams posts four or more goals, it’s easy to try and pin it on the goaltender. After viewing last night’s game. I can say Keith Kinkaid shoulder little of the blame for the three that got past him. He was screened on the first goal and his defense was completely outworked on goals two and three; goal four was an empty netter so he obviously can’t be blamed for that one.
It didn’t help that Sami Vatanen was a train-wreck in front of him (Vats may have had his worst game as a Devil to be honest) but Kinkaid made a number of saves to keep the Devils in the game, particularly in the third period. It’s easy to write off the goalie when they’ve been the problem most of the season; last night was not the case.
The Coleman Corner: Can we get some love for Blake Coleman? A guy projected to be a bottom six NHLer, playing on the second line and already contributing 14 goals. I think most of the Devils fan base loves and respects Pickles because he always puts forth an amazing effort on the ice. Still, his play and goal last night makes him deserving of as much recognition as possible.
A Final Thought: The New Jersey Devils are 0-3 this week; the injured brigade cannot return soon enough.
Your Take: The Devils beat themselves with poor defending, going down 3-0 early before ultimately dropping the contest 4-2. Please leave any thought that you have about the game or the team’s record this week down below in the comments.
Thanks to Chris for the game preview, to Mike for providing coverage on the @AAtJerseyBlog account, and everyone who commented in the gamethread. Thank you all as always for reading!