As John noted in the recap, yesterday's 2-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers featured a strong effort by the New Jersey Devils. Head Coach Jacques Lemaire noted it as progress and even compared the team to last year's squad on MSG's television preview before the game. After the first two periods in today's affair against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it seemed any and all momentum gained from yesterday's game would yet again vanish. Yet, after being able to keep the game close during the first 40 minutes amid being out-shot 26-16, the Devils were able to surge in the last period with five goals. Yes, that's right; the Devils scored five goals in the third period while only letting up one (and it was a late insignificant one that meant nothing). The third period certainly changed the assumption of not building on a good effort, and the Devils did something for only the second time this season: they came back to win in an exciting fashion after trailing 2-1 to beat the Lightning 6-3 in front of a very vocal 16,197 at The Rock.
David Clarkson scored two goals that tied the game on both occasions; one was on a breakaway and the other was on a powerplay. They scored two empty net goals, including Nick Palmieri's first NHL goal, and 11 different Devils recorded at least a point. They were awarded goals that were deflected off of bodies and being in the right place at the right time in front of the net. Even Martin Brodeur was awarded an assist after his attempted empty net shot.
Speaking of the goalie, Brodeur made a handful of stellar saves and was a wall after letting in a softy in the first period. He was able to control notables like Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos with the help of his defense as the game wore on. The Devils were calm, cool, and collect when they had their backs up against the wall throughout the game, and they broke a four-game losing streak and won their first game in 2011
For Tampa Bay's take on the game, check out Raw Charge. I have a bunch more to say on tonight's win, so please join me after the jump.
Going into the game, Devils fans were a bit surprised to see Mattias Tedenby be a healthy scratch once again. It was also saddening to hear that Anton Volchenkov's father had passed away and obviously wouldn't play tonight. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Mark Fayne was recalled and would take A-Train's spot and Anssi Salmela would be the other scratch while Matthew Corrente would get the nod. Both Corrente and Fayne would see limited time playing only 14 and 15 shifts respectively (11:44 & 8:41 TOI) per the Event Summary. Both were very shaky in the first period and not very sharp at all. This left the bulk of the work up to the other four defensemen, and as the game went on, their confidence grew and were able to help Marty by clearing pucks to the corners and out of the zone.
Lemaire tweaked the forward lines a little bit as well. Vladimir Zharkov moved up to the first line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac, and Nick Palmieri would play the left side with Jason Arnott and Adam Mair. I can't say both these lines played bad, but they did not play as well as the other two lines featuring Brian Rolston, Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus on the second line and the fourth linewe are all use to seeing in Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, and David Clarkson. Here's Time On Ice's Shift Chart, and Corsi and Fenwick numbers.
The only "mistake" the defense made was a first period sorta-miscommunication and unlucky clear that quickly made the game 1-0 less than 3 minutes into the game. Mark Fraser and Corrente both tried to poke check a loose puck (weakly mind you) in the neutral zone to only see Steve Downie gather it, skate into zone and make a one handed pass from the corner into the slot. The puck scattered around with bodies in front of the net and Adam Mair made an attempt to clear it away. It hit Mattias Ritola in the leg and right to Teddy Purcell who easily buried the puck around a sprawling Brodeur.
It seemed that both Fraser and Corrente thought their collected effort would be enough or that the other would make a better attempt at the puck, but nonetheless it was a goal us Devils fans have seen all season at a time we are all too familiar with.
After the goal, the Devils responded very well. Zubrus and Elias were able to forecheck well and Rolston got a good chance on a one timer from Zubrus between the circles. A little over 3 minutes after the goal against, Rod Pelley and Victor Hedman canceled each other out at the Devils blue line as the puck went right to Sestito who made a great pass to Clarkson who was heading north. All alone, he was able to fake a shot that Dan Ellis bought into and backhanded one in over his pad.
The second goal against was a complete goof by Marty with a man down. St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier exchanged passes at the point to see an open Ryan Malone at the side of the net. He attempted a low, sharp angle shot that somehow trickled through Marty and into the back of the net. Marty should have had it, plain and simple. Granted it was on the penalty kill against a Lightning team that has a deadly powerplay that I'm sure Henrik Tallinder was aware of. He was called for hooking by simply putting his stick on the hands, but you will called for that every time against the team who leads the league in drawing penalties.
The score was 2-1 at the first intermission, and things were looking pretty dim. Shots were 13-5 Tampa Bay (yet attempts were 17-12). Here's the Game Summary as well. The second period saw Marty bounce back after his goof. He was very strong making a great pad save on a Stamkos one timer in the slot and a St. Louis rush from the side of the net. Speaking of Stankos, he had a frustrating night going minus-3, only two shots on goal, and a crucial penalty that ultimately gave up the game winner.
The second period ended with a shot differential of 10 (26-16). Shots were 13-11 that period (attempts were 17-15). Zubrus was called for a late hooking call that Nate Thomson drew. It was a rush up ice along with Lecavalier and Andy Greene and it was a good penalty to take.
So the Devils entered the 3rd period with 1:15 left on the kill. After a beautiful glove save by Marty on St. Louis slap shot, they effectively kept the puck away from the Lightning. Mark Fraser made a nice block using his hand as a bat. Soon after, Corrente was able to draw a nice tripping penalty that Dominic Moore was not happy about. The Devils were able to capitalize on the man advantage. Elias brought the puck into the zone quickly after a Tampa Bay clear, passed it to Kovy who dished it to an open Clarkson in the high slot. He one timed it passed Ellis, and netted the game at two.
Not 10 seconds after the goal (actually, it was 8), Andy Greene committed a very dumb high sticking penalty. He tried to stickcheck Malone but missed Malone's stick. He drew blood on the high sticking call, and the almighty Tampa powerplay was going to get another opportunity. Like the previous kill, the Devils were the ones playing keep away with the help of some great Elias puck handling. About 3 minutes into the kill, Stamkos was called for a cross-check and it was 4-on-4 time.The Devils were able to hold on the puck during the delayed call for about 40 seconds. This was a very smart play.
The Devils were able to take advantage here with some good board play by Arnott and Zharkov during the 4-on-4. Zharky made a feed to Tallinder from behind the net who took the shot. It ricocheted off of Jason Arnott's mid section and in the net. They continued to control the boards during 5-on-5 play in the 3rd period that lead to the 4th goal, and the 3rd of the period. Rolston and Elias were able to create some open ice in the corners. Elias got the puck behind the net, and at the same Rolston and Zubrus went to the net. Elias attempted a feed that hit off Rolston that went right to Zubrus who had an open net to make it 4-2. Patrick Elias and Nick Palmieri added late empty netters to cap off the 5 goal third period. Shots were an even 10-10 that period.
Here's the video highlights from nhl.com:
Elias's line was very good tonight. He and Rolston were both an even 0 at Corsi. Zubrus somehow was a minus-5. They were very strong in the offensive zone and combined for 14 shot attempts. Clarkson was a +4, the only positive Devil of the night, with 5 shots on goal on 7 attempts. Fraser a dismal minus-10 and despite Tallinder's +4 plus/minus rating, he was minus-7 in corsi.
So what did you think of the come from behind win? Please continue your post game discussion in the comments here. Thanks for reading.