The Devils came close, but couldn’t end their losing streak, which is now at five games.
The New Jersey Devils entered Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers on a four-game losing streak and having not scored a goal since Sunday.
Some good news during this tough stretch: Nathan Bastian returned to the lineup for the first time since March 18th.
• 2nd line: Andreas Johnsson moved from RW to LW, Nick Merkley RW
• 3rd line: Jesper Boqvist, Marián Studenič promoted (latter as RW)
• 4th line: Miles Wood, Michael McLeod, Bastian reunited
• Tyce Thompson out
• Matt Tennyson in for Will Butcher
• Aaron Dell in net
Would all these lineup changes bring about a different result for the Devils?
1st period: Maybe not
The Devils got off to as bad of a start as they could have envisioned. No team in the league is worse while short-handed and we saw why this period.
The first goal was a result of a turnover in the neutral zone and poor defending. The Rangers went on to score two more goals in the opening 20 of this one, both on the power play.
The Devils looked characteristically dreadful while short-handed, but were also incredibly undisciplined, committing a whopping four penalties in just one period. A team with such an awful penalty kill doesn’t have the luxury of being this undisciplined.
Would the Devils have the fight and determination to come back or would this be another bad loss?
2nd period: Better, I guess
The second was better for the Devils, but they still conceded another goal.
They outshot the Rangers 12-7 and didn’t commit any penalties, but were hurt by their inability to get anything done on two power plays and by a terrible goal that Dell should have had.
However, McLeod ended the team’s scoring drought to get them on the board before the period came to a close. Coming back from 4-1 is a difficult task, but could this team do it?
3rd period: A loss, but impressive fight
The Devils made things incredibly interesting in the third, coming within one before ultimately taking the loss. They had some pep in their step and took advantage of the Rangers loosening up and taking their foot off the gas.
P.K. Subban scored an early goal to get the Devils rolling and Yegor Sharangovich brought them within one just over a minute later.
Unfortunately, that would be all for the Devils. They didn’t score again and end up conceding two more goals, both empty-netters.
Special teams killed the Devils this period again. They had two more chances on the man-advantage, but couldn’t score on either.
The Devils have now dropped five in a row and are in rough shape. However, the fact that they actually got on the board and were able to get within one is a significant improvement.
They showed perseverance and were actually the superior team at even-strength. Special teams continues to be the dagger in the heart of this young and promising team.
Key Moment: PPG #1
The key moment of the game was the first power play goal that the Devils conceded.
One of the goals the Devils allowed ended up being the difference-maker, and this one embodied the team’s poor play of late as well as their bottom-of-the-pack efforts on the penalty kill.
Player of the game: Jack Hughes
The Devils’ impressive youngster, who hasn’t been as sharp lately, turned it around this game and was their best player. Jack Hughes recorded a multi-point game and continues to blossom in his sophomore season.
Hughes’ numbers: 20:49 TOI, 2 A, 70.83 CF%, 0.50 iXG, 1 block, 0.69 xGF, 0.29 xGA, 0 GF, 1 GA, 1.77 Game Score, -0.33 offensive rating, 0.35 defensive rating, and 1.72 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.