(Devils Captain Andy Greene in the Hockey Fights Cancer warm-up jersey – @NHLDevils)
The Devils have had a surprisingly strong start under new Head Coach John Hynes, and they entered Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets riding a four-game winning streak.
The Devils’ offense has done well this season, with Adam Henrique leading the way with six goals and three assists, and Mike Cammalleri notching 11 points, with eight assists and three goals.
This Devils team is built, as they always have been, on strong defense, led by Andy Greene and Adam Larsson, and goaltending with Cory Schneider. They hope to get enough offense to pull out victories.
Tuesday night showed the limits of theDevils offense’s ability to finish, as Columbus beat them 3-1, with all goals coming in the third period. It was Columbus’ second win under former Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella.
Devils Captain Andy Greene said of the game, “We played a pretty solid game until seven-eight minutes left. We just self-destructed a little bit. We have to be better than that. I thought we played a solid game up until then. They got that first one, but we have to bounce back after that. We didn’t.”
The Devils came out strong, and thoroughly dominated Columbus early, as they outshot them 8-2 in the first period.
The second period was more of the same, as the Devils got some high-quality chances and outshot Columbus 7-6 frame, but the game remained scoreless into the third.
The Devils’ two best chances of the night came early in the third period.
Jacob Josefson deflected a shot 6:08 into the third period, which rolled past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who recovered to clear the puck away before it went in.
Josefson said of the play, “It saw it went on net and it felt like I had pretty good wood on it, but I didn’t even see the puck. I was trying to find it behind (Bobrovsky) and then I saw he just kind of made a little twist there and that was why he was able to shoot it away with this stick.”
Then, 8:22 into the third, Eric Gelinas fired one off the left post. Gelinas said of his big chance, “It could have been a game-changer there at that point. It was still 0-0. If it had tilted things to our side, maybe it would have been different.”
Columbus came right back and with 10:57 left, Boone Jenner crashed the net and scored on a feed from David Clarkson and Gregory Campbell.
Incredibly, the Jackets scored just 35 seconds later on a fast-moving play from the left side, as Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Hartnell set up Cam Atkinson to make it 2-0.
Devils goalie Cory Schneider said of the two quick goals, “It took the wind out of our sails. For me, I can’t have two goals back-to-back like that go in. We could have responded better. That’s on us.”
Columbus wasn’t done as Hartnell got a goal of his own with 5:13 left that gave them a 3-0 edge. The Devils got a late goal from Kyle Palmieri with 2:28 remaining.
The Devils’ power play failed them in this one. They failed to get a shot on net in their two power plays in the first period, and then three on their third power play in the second period.
Devils Head Coach John Hynes said of that, “It’s power play and 5-on-5. When you look at the first period, in particular, we had chances on the power play and chances 5-on-5. They didn’t go in. So, we’ve got to find a way to be able to put the puck in the net whether it’s on the power play – we had some good looks, it didn’t go in, but 5-on-5, we had chances too and we’ve got to bear down in those situations.”
Devils center Adam Henrique said, “I think there’s still probably times when we could have gotten more shots, more pucks to the net, find a way to get a dirty one. Games like this, that’s what you need. It was like they were hanging around and in games like this it seems that comes to bite you in the third period sometimes and it got us tonight.”
Schneider said of the game, “I liked our first two periods a lot. Those were probably the best two periods we played all year. We got on them and it was one of those games that if we had just scored first, the game would have turned out differently, but they got the first one and then we sort of just had a mini collapse there from myself out. Definitely a disappointing third period from me and everybody else. I think we’re not very happy about that.”
Schneider said of Columbus, “They were a team that was feeling better about getting the win, but still a team we could have jumped on and I think we did early on. If we had put a few away or just gotten a break or gotten a lead, things could have headed south pretty quickly. But, they stayed in it and stayed resilient and they got the first one and then it kind of fell apart for us from there.”