Our three stars of the game, Hedberg, Fayne and Tallinder.
First, Johan Hedberg. The Devils got themselves in trouble early on on the game going down by two goals before the first period horn sounded. Devils commentator Steve Cangelosi commented that it looked like he was busier than the shots on goal tally indicated; the reason for that was simply because most of the shots were huge saves. A any point the Devils could have found themselves in a hole too deep to dig themselves out of.
Next up, Mark Fayne. Mark looked like he was given Ovechkin duty, as he seemed to tail the Caps captain most of the night. In fact during the second and third periods, I would credit him for keeping Ovechkin off the scoresheet. That alone means the Devils had a shot to win tonight.
Lastly, Henrik Tallinder. His persistence, energy, and drive is the sole reason the second goal was scored. He drove hard into the corner, wasn’t phased by a Caps hand under his arm, and actually pulled the Caps defender’s stick and glove off his hand using his armpit. That distraction, gave the Devils the slight edge they needed to get the puck back to Bryce Salvidor, who made a hard pass to Ryan Carter that he deflected in to the net to tie things up.
That brings us to the shootout. After a nail biting overtime, the Devils were fortunate to pass five minutes still tied, and even get a couple of scoring chances. In the shootout, Zach Parise made an excellent fake then shot to give the Devils the initial advantage. You would expect the Capitals Alex Ovechkin to score, but Hedberg stopped the other attempts leaving the teams tied at one goal a piece after the initial three rounds.
Nicklas Backstrom was next up for the Caps and could not get his shot past Hedberg, giving the Devils a chance to win it. The Devils choice was David Clarkson, and it was a good choice. Clarkson faked out Capitals net minder Michal Neuvirth and his backhand shot reached the back of the net. The Capitals were dealt only their second loss at home so far this season, and the Devils won their eighth game of the season, five of which now have been generated in overtime.
Of course the Devils aren’t coming out of this matchup unscathed. Their Penalty Killing unit kept the Capitals off the board when they were short a man, getting the Devils a 93% PK rate, second only to Pittsburgh Penguins who have a 94% rate. But their Power Play continues to struggle. To be fair, the Devils PP ability has struggled for quite some time, but they now sit dead last in the league’s Power Play percentage with 10%. If the Devils really want to come out of their mediocre haze, this must be addressed immediately.