So close yet so far. The New Jersey Devils (21-21-10) fall to the Calgary Flames (27-24-3) in overtime after climbing back from a two-goal deficit. Mikael Backlund scored the overtime winner. The Devils were outshot 38-29 but played a strong game overall. Cory Schneider was solid all night long and helped the Devils steal a point. He made 34 saves on 38 shots faced and had an .895 save percentage. The team has 52 points in 52 games played but I’m not sure if one point a game is going to cut it in a very, very tight playoff race.
Adam Henrique, Pavel Zacha, and Kyle Palmieri all scored goals tonight. Zacha’s and Palmieri’s goals were both power play goals and the team went 2/3 on the man advantage. Henrique and Palmieri are still tied for the team lead in goals scored with 14 each and if they’re trying to just keep up with each other, I’m okay with that. Henrique now has three goals in as many games played and Palmieri has three in two. Henrique (a goal and an assist) and Miles Wood (a pair of assists) both had two point nights.
The Devils have now lost their last seven home games, two of which came in OT. They will play another eight games at home this month and will have to find a way to win those games. They came close tonight, erasing a two-goal deficit and taking the lead but weren’t able to close it out. The Devils’ penalty kill looked shaky and Calgary was able to score a power play goal but that can attributed to a penalty kill unit that did not have Travis Zajac. He took a puck to the face and had to go to the locker room to get patched up but did return to the ice for the rest of the game.
However, the game wasn’t a complete disaster. Captain Andy Greene brought some much-needed stability to the defense and had a little over 25 minutes of ice time. Joe Blandisi also had a strong showing in his Devils debut this season. He was all over the ice and made sure his presence was known. Zacha also had a strong night and is going to be a great forward down the road with some more development and NHL experience. Palmieri and Henrique are both getting hot at the right time and if they can continue to score and create more offensive chances, the team can get going too. Winning won’t be as out of reach.
Making the playoffs definitely isn’t impossible but the Devils are going to have to find ways to get two points instead of one or none. There are still 30 games left in the season and as of tonight, the Devils sit six points behind Philadelphia for the last wildcard spot. They have 17 games left against divisional opponents. However, 18 of their remaining 30 games are at home which would have been a good thing a month ago but now? Not so much. The Devils could be perfect on the road and win all 12 of those road games but they won’t mean much if the team can’t find a way to win at home.
New Jersey will be back in action tomorrow night against Columbus in their first of four meetings this season and hopefully their road magic will continue; puck drops at 7PM.