This game was another nail-biter but the only thing that matters is that the New Jersey Devils (21-21-9) came out on top as they outscored the Detroit Red Wings (20-21-9), 4-3, but were outshot 30-24. They extend their win streak on the road to five straight games and are 7-0-1 in their last eight. Despite not showing up to play for (most of) the last twenty minutes, they started the game off strong and carried a 3-1 lead into the third. Kyle Palmieri had a two-goal night (led the team in shots on goal with four) and Stefan Noeson scored his second goal in his first two games as a New Jersey Devil. Adam Henrique scored the game-winning goal in the fourth, and he and Palmieri are now tied for the team lead in goals scored with 13 each.
Detroit has the worst power play in the league and the Devils were able to take advantage of that. Both Palmieri and Henrique had an unassisted short-handed goal tonight; the last time the Devils had two short-handed goals in a game was on December 8th, 2011 against Ottawa when Zach Parise (I know) and Danius Zubrus scored short-handed goals. Henrique now has 13 short-handed goals in his career and is only behind John Madden and Patrik Elias for the franchise lead.
Overall, it was a slow game but there were a few crucial moments. The Devils were unable to score on their lone power play but got several good looks. If they continue to play like that on the man advantage, their power play will start to get much better. They were 4/5 on the penalty kill tonight and as mentioned before, scored two short-handed goals. They also killed a crucial 5-on-3 and a 6-on-4 at the very end of the game. Had they given up a goal in either of those situations, the momentum would have shifted. The two teams will meet again in their regular season finale again at the Joe Louis Arena; it will be the final regular season game played there.
Cory Schneider had a great night and started to look a little shaky towards the end but he had plenty of help offensively. He made some great saves, 27 on 30 shots faced with a .900 save percentage. The defense could have been better (which is a recurring theme) but they got the job done. Henrique and Palmieri both look like they’re returning to form; they had their first career 30-goal seasons last season and Devils fans expected them to build on that this season. They both got off to slow starts but if they can pick up the pace, the Devils offense will get some much-needed help.
The Zacha-Josefson-Noesen line looked good all night and had five shots on goal to show for it. Noeson was able to score on a really nifty pass from Zacha. That could be a line that sticks in the future, especially if they can further develop their chemistry. Taylor Hall also had a good game despite having no shots on goal; he did have an assist on Palmieri’s second goal of the night. Damon Severson also had a really good shot in the first that rang off the post (the most bittersweet sound in hockey).
The Devils knew they needed a win tonight to really start a playoff push and they did. The Islanders, Hurricanes, and Panthers all won tonight but the Rangers and Flyers, who hold the two wild card spots, both lost. Tampa Bay and Buffalo also lost, and Toronto is currently losing. Who holds the wild card spots going into the playoffs will likely come down to the end of the season and those last few Devils games could be very important (assuming that they’re still in the running). But while the Devils have been nothing short of phenomenal on the road, they need to find a way to translate that success to their play at home. New Jersey will be back at The Rock on Friday night to take on the Calgary Flames in their regular season finale; puck drops at 7:30PM.