The New Jersey Devils faced the Florida Panthers in a Saturday matinee. Andrew Hammond made his first appearance for the Devils, as New Jersey hoped for a much better performance than last game’s 8-1 massacre. It was also the return of Janne Kuokkanen from his wrist injury and Andreas Johnsson from ilness.
The Devils would get the start they wanted. Yegor Sharangovich deflected a Dougie Hamilton wrister from the point. Gudas tried to clear the rebound, but it went right back to Sharangovich, who put the puck past Bobrovsky for the first goal of the game.
After the following faceoff, the Devils dumped the puck in. Bobrovsky gave it to Forsling, who tried to clear, but he fanned on the attempt and it went to Hughes, who grabbed the puck and shot it 5 hole past Bobrovsky.
A couple minutes later, the Devils would also get the first power play of the game. Marchment got called for hooking behind the Devils net.
21 seconds into the power play, Severson shot the puck from the point, 2 guys ran into each other, and the puck came to Bratt, who fed Hischier in the slot, who got robbed by Bobrovsky, sliding out of the net to make the save.
The Panthers would get a goal of their own with 10:58 left in the first. Severson stopped a wraparound attempt, but while Hammond was getting back into position, Chiarot shot one top shelf into the New Jersey net.
Subban showed he still has wheels, going around his own net all the way up the ice before handing the puck off to Vesey, whose shot was deflected out of play.
The Sharangovich-Hughes-Mercer line had another great shift, but did not score
Johnsson set up Boqvist but Bobrovsky made the save.
The Devils got the puck up the ice quickly and Tatar cut to the middle for a backhander for their first shot of the period.
2 minutes into the period, Sharangovich grabbed a loose puck near the right dot and fired it past Bobrovsky to put the lead back at 2 goals.
The Devils then had a 4 on 2. Bobrovsky made the save. The Panthers had a couple clearing attempts, but Ty Smith did a nice job to keep the zone. The puck came to Johnsson, who fed Kuokkanen, who went in on Bobrovsky and pulled the puck to his backhand and shot it into the net to make it 4-1.
The Devils then got a 3 on 1. Hischier opted to shoot and Bobrovsky made the save.
With 12:30 left in the period, Hischier gained the zone, stopped and passed it to Tatar, who passed it to Smith for a chance, but Bobrovsky made the save.
The Devils got the first power play of the period, as Gudas awkwardly hit Bratt in the NZ.
Not too much would happen on the power play, and after it was over, the Panthers would go the other way, shoot, and the rebound would bounce off someone and into the net, making it a 4-2 game.
At 6:34 Dougie Hamilton took a holding penalty on Huberdeau behind the Devils’ net.
Vesey and Sharangovich would get a shorthanded 2 on 1, but Vesey didn’t have the enery and missed the pass. Fortunately, Sharangovich would get a breakaway a couple moments later. He went forehand backhand and roofed it for his first NHL hat trick.
Not one.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 2, 2022
But THREE goals for Yegor. pic.twitter.com/2ygyvxJV4G
A couple minute after that, Boqvist would get the puck in the OZ, lose it, and he and Kuokkanen would fight for the puck and win it back. Kuokkanen would center it for Johnsson streaking towards the net, who beat Bobrovsky to make it 6-2 New Jersey.
The final frame started with Mercer in the box for tripping. Spencer Knight came into the game for Bobrovsky.
The Panthers had some shots including a great chance for Duclair, but Hammond and the PKers kept the puck out. Boqvist almost set up Mercer for a chance in front but just missed.
Johnsson took a cross checking penalty. Just as Johnsson got out of the box but before he could rejoin play, Montour scored on a blast from the point.
The Panthers would score again about a minute later. The Devils failed to clear, turned it over, and Bennett got in front, tried to get his own rebound a few times, and eventually the puck came out to Forsling who scored to make it 6-4.
The Panthers got the puck in the net again, but it was immediately waved off for being tipped with a high stick by Verhaeghe.
The Panthers were pushing hard this period.
They pinned the Devils in with about 5 minutes left. Play ended with Hammond gloving a Chiarot point shot.
Florida emptied their net afterwards. Barkov got the puck at the right circle and fired it past Hammond, cutting the Devils lead to just one goal. Somehow both Bennett, the guy who passed to Barkov, and Barkov himself, were both totally open on the right side. That can’t happen.
Ruff called his timeout to try to get the Devils back on track. With Tatar and Bratt on following the timeout, the Devils finally got some zone time and a couple chances.
The Panthers got down to 2:42, done a goal, draw in their zone. They won the draw, some stuff happened, and with 2:00 they got back in the Devils’ zone with possession and emptied their net once more. The Devils got a clear that missed the EN by a couple feet.
The Panthers got the puck off the draw, passed it around a few times, and Barkov got a one timer from the right circle and scored. 6-6. They did it again. The Devils Devils’d and gave up a 4 goal lead. That is not good!
With the game tied, we went to OT at the rock.
With 3:15 left in OT, Forsling got the puck near the blue line and scored on a wrister.
I don’t want to talk about it
I don’t. But I have to, so here I go.
That was bad.
The first 2 periods were good! The Devils were beating arguably the league’s best team 6-2 after 40 minutes. That is in fact very good. If they can play like that again, that would be great. The 3rd period, like the 2nd period against Boston, was miserable. Missed coverage and bad goaltending sunk them. I believe Hammond can be better, but that certainly wasn’t his greatest game. Goaltending remains the most consistent factor in Devils losses this year. Offense is also clearly not a problem.
Ty Smith also made a couple good plays, at least in the first 2 periods. At least he’s showing signs of life.
Leave your complaints or rays of sunshine in this dark time in the comments below! Thanks for reading.