What Happened: The New Jersey Devils played a much better game compared to some of their previous losing effort, but in the end they struggled to score on numerous good chances in the 2nd and 3rd periods and fell to the Jets 3-1 in Winnipeg.
Star of the Game: Andrew Ladd – The Jets captain had a great night, scoring eight seconds in (a new Devils record for quickest goal allowed to start a game) and he had the game winner.
Goat of the Game: The Devils Offense – In a game where they settled down and kept the Jets off the board for most of the game in between their two goals, the offense didn’t do nearly enough. They had every chance to win this game or at least take a lead and they didn’t. Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac both completely missed the net on third period chances, that just won’t cut it.
Turning Point: The Ladd goal that put the Jets up 2-1. The Devils had been playing pretty well in the third and seemed as if they might at least get a point out of tonight, but after Ladd scored, the Devils couldn’t answer and that was all the Jets needed to beat New Jersey once again.
Offense: C-minus – There were some chances, but that’s mostly all they were. The goal by Andrei Loktionov seemed to recharge the Devils when he knotted the game up at 1-1, but they weren’t able to beat Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec after that. The Jets are not a strong defensive team and a one-goal effort wins little-to-no games. “Its frustrating, we have to find a way to get out of this and play in the other team’s zone a little more,” said a frustrated David Clarkson on MSG’s postgame show.
Defense: B – The defense wasn’t all bad tonight, but they didn’t do enough to keep the Jets off the scoreboard in the third. Adam Larsson had some nice plays on a couple of two-on-ones. Marek Zidlicky was badly out of position on the opening goal by the Jets that led to the opportunity on which Winnipeg cashed in.
Goaltending: C – Johan Hedberg wasn’t nearly as bad as he was in his last few starts, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Hedberg actually made some nice plays to keep the Jets off the board after that first talley, but he made a terrible play that led to the second goal. Moose flailed on the rush by Dustin Byfuglien and it quickly led to the Ladd goal.
Special teams: C – The penalty kill was pretty solid tonight. If I had to grade that separately I’d give them an A. The Jets power play has been much better of late. As for the power play, they’ve played their way into regaining the term “LIPA power play.” (If you know anything about the power outages following Sandy on Long Island, you’ll understand what I mean by that.) The man-advantage did next to nothing, once again.
Instant analysis: This one hurts, because they actually played a pretty good game and you can make the case that they deserved at least point out of this one. The bottom line is, they didn’t finish and it’s another big loss. Was the effort there tonight? Sure, but effort doesn’t help you in the standings; only points do.
They had to capitalize on some of the scoring chances with the game knotted at 1-1. This was a winnable game, but they weren’t able to find a way to get the victory.
Though this loss was brutal because after all the time off, the Devils desperately needed to get back on track. They’ve slid all the way to 7th place in the East and if they don’t stop the bleeding soon, they’ll be on the outside looking in of the playoff picture in the East.
They were better tonight, so maybe they’re beginning to turn around. They have Buffalo on Saturday before FIVE games next week, including two back-to-backs. It’s not panic time yet, but they’re starting to get closer to it.
Plain and simple, they need to turn it around soon or this could be a long, abbreviated season.