By Jeff O’Connor
What Happened: The New Jersey Devils fought back from a two-goal deficit but lost on an questionable overtime power play goal as they fell to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night at Bell Centre in Montreal.
Star of the Game: Andrei Markov, one of the players Dave Turner mentioned that the Devils needed to contain tonight, scored the game-winning goal in overtime. He finished as a plus-1 and logged 29:50 minutes of ice time. After essentially missing the last two seasons, the versatile defenseman will be a huge asset to the Habs this year.
Goat of the Game: The Devils first period effort. It finally caught up with them. They played poor periods against Philadelphia and Washington and got away with it. Not this time. The Habs dragged them up and down the ice in the first stanza; outshooting them 16-7 and scoring a pair of goals.
Turning Point: The highly questionable call in overtime on Andy Greene for holding. Did Erik Cole dive and embellish? Perhaps. That to me doesn’t matter. How in the world does a player get a holding penalty when he smoothly drops a puck carrier on his butt?!? WOULD LOVE to know how that’s holding.
Offense – B – They came on very strong in the third period but lacked a thorough effort in the first two periods and got unlucky hitting a few posts. If they had, they get an easy A. Again though, this time is scoring goals at a fairly solid rate considering all the questioning by their critics. And hey…Patrik Elias had a three-point game to reach 900 for his career. Hats off!
Defense – D – This segment goes along with the slow first period starts. It’s one thing to be out of position…that’s going to happen. The high number of turnovers has become alarming.
Goaltending – C- – Without Martin Brodeur, the score after the first period might have been 5-0. He kept them in it and there’s not much he could do on the overtime winner. But four goals is four goals.
Special Teams – C+ – While the power play wasn’t real sharp, they did convert on one of their four chances. Would be nice to see them get one on a traditional 5-on-4 man advantage, however. Penalty kill was great again but came up a bit small in overtime when they could have pushed the game to a shootout.
Instant Analysis: Hey, they weren’t going to win every game, but I’ll take points any day of the week. That especially goes for a night where they didn’t show up for 20 minutes on the road and fought back from a pair of goals down in the final period. Hopefully, this is somewhat of a wake-up call; that they can’t sleepwalk through first periods and expect to hold the lead after a period of play. Outside of that, I thought they meticulously controlled the play in the second and really ramped it up in the third period until the refs took away the games in overtime. Learn from it, move on and get ready to take on a really tough Boston Bruins team.