Well, that one was a doozy (good thing I wasn’t home to watch). The New Jersey Devils (27-36-14) drop their fourth straight game as they fall to the New York Islanders (36-29-12) by a score of 2-1, a score much closer than what you would think. They were outshot 38-27, but Keith Kinkaid kept his team in it all night long and gave them a chance to win. He made huge saves and probably spent more time lying on the ground than in net but he did his job. The refs apparently don’t know how to do theirs. But anyway, Kinkaid saved 36 of 38 shots against (.947 percentage), while New York’s Jaroslav Halak saved 26 shots on 27 against (.963 save percentage).
It was a low-scoring game: Anders Lee, who is having a career year, got the Islanders on the board first with his 29th of the season almost seven minutes in; it was on the power play. Anthony Beauvillier extended the Isles’ lead to two in the second off of a really nice pass from Josh Ho-Sang. Adam Henrique ruined Halak’s shutout bid in the third with a power play tally, his 20th goal of the season. John Quenneville (!) and Pavel Zacha (!) assisted on the goal.
Okay, yes, let’s address the elephant in the room. TEN PENALTIES?! You have got to be kidding me. I’m not going to sit here, and analyze and argue every single call because that’s ridiculous and unnecessary. I understand that being a referee is difficult but TEN?! And six in the first period alone?! Home teams are definitely favored in their arena but this was a whole different ball game (puck game?) and I’m honestly just confused. How? How did the Devils manage to take ten penalties in the same game? How did the Islanders have three, three 5-on-3 opportunities in the same game? How was the score not so much worse? (The answer to that is Kinkaid; he was phenomenal). But it feels like the Devils are always on the wrong side of a call and it’s starting to get annoying, and maybe they’re not but it feels like it and frankly, I want it to stop. Yes, the score could have been much worse. Yes, the Devils could have scored more than one goal. But those calls change the momentum and pace of the game over and over and over again. And yes, maybe it would’ve been nice to knock them out of the playoffs with a win but they didn’t (John Tavares is hurt though so…).
Were their positives from tonight’s game? Yes. Henrique finally got on the board and snapped his five-game pointless streak. The power play is finding ways to click after going 0/4 on Tuesday. The penalty kill killed all but one of the Islanders’ ten opportunities. Zacha, Henrique, and Taylor Hall led the team in shots on goal with four each. The Devils did have a good night in the faceoff circle, winning 56.7% (!) of them; Henrique won 64.3%, Travis Zajac won 58.3%, Blake Coleman won 50%, Zacha won 42.9%, and Stefan Noesen won all of his (don’t know how many he had). And Michael Kapla looked pretty good in his Devils debut! I hope he sticks around the rest of the season (but I also don’t want Jon Merrill to continue being a healthy scratch, he’s had a decent year). I did like the Andy Greene-Steven Santini defensive pairing, and that may also stick around next year. And Ben Lovejoy fought? Wow.
The Devils and Isles will face off again next Saturday at The Rock for Patrik Elias’s official last “game” as a Devil. But before that, New Jersey will play in Philadelphia tomorrow night; puck drops at 7PM.