Penalty Kill problems lead to a 5-4 OT loss to the Rangers

While Patrik Elias and Ryan Callahan didn't want to beat each other up, some of the Devils would've loved to pound Sean Avery for his antics tonight.

For a 3rd straight time, the Devils have taken a pre-season game into overtime. And just like the first two games, they unfortunately lost. John touched up in the preview for this game that he'd like the Devils to take less penalties.While they did take less penalties (6 minors as opposed to 9 in the previous game), they didn't do a great job on the Penalty kill, as the Rangers got 4 power play goals, and used the power play to come back from a 4-2 deficit in the 3rd period. The loss was just devastating, as some guys played well tonight, but had some good performances wasted thanks to some untimely penalties by the Devils.

While the ZIP line was really effective, the one line that was great early on was the line of Brian Rolston, Tim Sestito and David Clarkson. They had a great forecheck going and were able to keep the puck in the Rangers zone as well. The team's second line of Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Alexander Vasyunov were able to generate a few great chances as well, but they weren't able to convert on them. On defense, Andy Greene did a good job offensively with a goal and an assist, and was solid defensively.

Jim Schmiedeberg's recap at Blueshirt Banter is up, and you should check it out. For everyone who commented in the gamethread, thanks for commenting.

If there was one person who played a pretty big part in tonight's game, it was the super pest Sean Avery. He effectively managed to throw David Clarkson off his game around mid-way during the 2nd period. While those two didn't exactly go at it, Avery decided to pick on someone who's not nearly as accustomed to fighting: Ilya Kovalchuk. And not only that, but Avery did that with safely behind an official. He effectively got those two off their games, and Kovy even gave Avery a "Zip it" gesture while the two were arguing on the benches.

With that being said, if some guys were able to keep their emotions in check, the Devils might not have lost this game. After the first incident where Avery and Kovalchuk tried to fight, Clarkson wasn't exactly the same. He tried to take on Avery again, but ended up taking a roughing penalty (with the Rangers scoring on the subsequent Power Play) and a holding call near the end of regulation (which again, the Rangers scored on the power play). Kovalchuk wasn't nearly as noticeable in the 3rd period as well, as I think he was more interested in trash talking Sean Avery than trying to win. Hopefully the next time the Devils and Rangers meet, they'll be more focused on winning the hockey game rather than trying to tell someone as dense as Avery that he's a tool.

If there was one thing the Devils need to improve, it was special teams. Like I said, the Penalty kill was pretty atrocious considering that the Rangers didn't dress Marian Gaborik, their best offensive threat tonight.   There was one thing I noticed on the Rangers' Power play: Sean Avery getting in front of Hedberg and screening him. Considering how small Avery is, I'd expect someone to be able to easily clear him out of the crease. however, he was able to effectively screen Hedberg and indirectly help out with the Rangers goals. Conversely, the Devils' Power play was quite powerless, going 0-4 including a stretch of nearly 2 minutes with a 2 man advantage. The passing was there, but the finish wasn't.

Overall, I feel bummed out after this game. After two periods, it seemed quite promising. But after the Rangers capitalized on the Power play and Michael Del Zotto ended it, I didn't feel all to great about this game. Watching your team lose to a hated rival always sucks, even if it's a meaningless pre-season game.  But in the end, this game doesn't matter. Please leave your thoughts about tonight's game in the comments.

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