Best Effort of the Year Keeps Devils Hopes Alive
The Devils’ season lay on the line Friday night. A loss to the Capitals at the Prudential Center meant New Jersey’s playoff hopes may have been as good as gone. However, the Devils fought hard amidst adversity and injury, and got a big two points to keep the team’s season alive.
This game would be marked more by Devils injuries than anything else; by the last six minutes of the third period, the Devils were down three players to injury (Adam Henrique, Patrik Elias, and Jacob Josefson) and one player, Damien Brunner, was off in the locker room with an equipment problem. This left the Devils with essentially two lines left to battle the Capitals with.
The Devils got off to their trademark slow first period, they only got seven shots off while Washington got eight and the period was capped off by Alex Ovechkin’s 49th goal of the year. The Devils would bounce back in the second period with a 14 shot effort leading to a tying goal from the newest Devil Tuomo Ruutu.
Between the stress of the enormity of the third period and the lack of players on the bench the Devils played one of, if not the best period of the year for them. They threw ten shots on net but kept the pressure on the Capitals the whole period and finally with just over four minutes to go the Devils got the breakthrough they needed when Ryan Carter broke through unmarked and got a shot past Jaroslav Halak to give them the 2-1 lead. From there the Devils would shut down the Capitals and get a very important two points.
Cory Schneider was sensational again in net stopping 24/25 shots en route to his 15th win of the year.
The news got even better from there as the Chicago Blackhawks netted a game winning goal against Columbus with three seconds to go in regulation meaning that not only did the Devils leap frog a spot in the standings by beating the Capitals but they moved to within just three points of the last wild card spot currently occupied by Columbus.
The Devils next game is Saturday night on MSG Plus Two at 7pm EST in Carolina against the Hurricanes. The Canes sit just three points behind the Devils so it is another must win for the team as they look to get into the playoffs!