The New Jersey Devils (24-22-10) outlasted the Colorado Avalanche (15-37-2) in a 3-2 win at the Prudential Center. The Devils are now 2-1-0 on their five-game homestand and will play their next two at against Ottawa and New York (Islanders). Pavel Zacha, Andy Greene, and Kyle Palmieri all scored tonight and Palmieri’s goal was the game winner. New Jersey outshot Colorado 40-30 and this is the first time the Devils have had 40 shots on goal since November 11th at Buffalo.
Both goaltenders had strong nights. Cory Schneider 28 saves on 30 shots, posting a .933 save percentage. Jeremy Smith made 37 saves on 40 shots, with a .925 save %, in his NHL debut.
Zacha’s goal came at 2:04 in the first period off of assists from Jacob Josefson and Stefan Noesen.The Zacha-Josefson-Noesen line has really been clicking and showed tonight. Zacha now has eight points in his last 11 games (five goals and three assists). As a line, they had eight shots on goal.
Captain Andy Greene had an absolute beauty of a shot on net that turned into a goal (Miles Wood may or may not have interfered with Smith). The goal horn did go off and the call on the ice was no goal but Coach Hynes (smartly) challenged the call and the ruling was eventually overturned. It was nice for him to get rewarded. His goal was also a power play goal; New Jersey went 1/3 on the night. They also killed 2/3 of Colorado’s penalties.
But the best, most beautiful goal of the night was Palmieri’s game-winning goal. The goal came off a picture perfect pass from Taylor Hall. Hall led the team in shots on goal tonight with six and he has six points in his last six games (two goals and four assists). Hall has had his ups and downs this season but he’s been more consistent as of late, as has Palmieri. Palmieri now has 15 goals on the season, tied with Adam Henrique for the team lead (as expected). Again, they’re just trying to keep up with each other.
Just another small note because I have a soft spot for the rookies: Steven Santini had five shots on goal tonight, only behind Hall. He’s done well as an offensive-minded defenseman and had several good looks tonight. Santini, Zacha, and Miles Wood have all been coming into their own and they’ve been fun to watch. The future looks bright.
The Devils also pick up a much-needed two points in an incredibly tight playoff race. They now sit at 58 points, still five points behind Toronto, who have 63 points with their 7-1 thrashing of the Islanders. Buffalo and Florida also have 58 points. They’ll play two Eastern Conference opponents twice in their next four games: two against the Ottawa Senators split by a home-and-home series against the Islanders, who the Devils are meeting for the first time this season. All four games are crucial. If New Jersey can pick up most of the points or start a new win streak, they’ll be in good shape. They’ll just need some help from the rest of the league.
The Devils will host the Senators on Thursday; puck drops at 7PM.