Sloppy Play Forces Devils to Drop Home Opener
Added by Tim Purcell on October 5, 2013.
(Photo via NYTimes.com)
In front of a raucous crowd in Newark, New Jersey, the New Jersey Devils were ready to make the Prudential Center rock once again, for the 2013/14 NHL season. Following the player introductions, each fan was lifted out of their seats for what they thought, would be a stepping stone to a cup contending season. Unfortunately, the young-gunning New York Islanders had other plans on their season opening night. New York was able to come back two different times in the game, ultimately leading to a 4-3 shootout win.
New Jersey took to the early lead, when Dainius Zubrus took a shot from the slot that was met with the left pad of Islanders starting goaltender Evgeni Nabakov. Damien Brunner was positioned perfectly in front, and was able to jam a rebound home, to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, when Devils killer Michael Grabner was able to slide one under the sprawled out Martin Brodeur, to tie the game up for the Islanders. This seemed to be the theme of the night for both teams. As soon as the Devils regained the lead, the Islanders were right back to answer.
Numerous counts of untimely goaltending mistakes and blown defensive coverages is ultimately what led to the Devils shootout demise on Friday night. Brodeur showed flashes of his younger self, making many outstanding saves, as he kept his team in the game for most of the night. New Jersey was unable to keep the speedy, young Islanders forwards in front of them, which led to all three of their goals on the evening.
Down 3-2 in the third, Brunner was able to score his second of the night, just after a Devils powerplay had expired. The remaining minutes of the third were rather uneventful, and the Devils were faced with their first overtime game of the season.
Throughout overtime, It looked as if the Devils were fighting for their playoff lives. Every shift, the Devils were buzzing in the Islanders zone, but Nabakov was up to the task. After the five minute overtime period, the game would have to be decided in a shootout, something that was not pleasant to the Devils a year ago.
That trend seemed to continue Friday night. Both goaltenders were exceptional in the skills competition, but the Islanders got the upper-hand in the sixth round, when Matt Moulson out one through the Devils goaltender, to win it for his team.
New Jersey has gotten off to a slow start this season, with most players still fighting to find their legs. New Jersey will now begin a 5-game Canada road trip, starting in Edmonton on Monday night, followed by a top to Vancouver, Tuesday.