It wouldn’t be so bad if they just blew this game – because they seem to be inept when playing against teams that begin with “New York.” But the Devils were looking at an old-time Devils victory, 1-0, as time winked down in regulation.
Dainius Zubrus was the only Devil to score Wednesday night during the only period where the Devils truly played, the first. After 20 minutes were complete, the Devils went in to lock-down mode where offense and a pretty aggressive fore-checking kept the Rangers off the scoreboard and away from Brodeur.
The Devils penalty killing played well all night long, keeping the Rangers from scoring, and an unlikely Power Play combination consisting of Dainius Zubrus, Michael Rupp, and Sergei Brylin, connected to score the lone goal in the first. In addition, the Devils physical presence was in for the first period as well, with David Clarkson taking Sean Avery to task.
But once the first horn sounded to end the first period, the Devils took a back seat to the action letting up for the next 40 minutes, and eventually leading up to the Rangers late third period goal.
The shootout was just strange, as the Devils really looked lost. The Rangers came out with Shanahan, Dawes, and Callahan, and tried various different shots and made some great attempts to get the puck past Martin Brodeur. Dawes got the lone goal in the shootout. But the Devils had Langenbrunner, Gionta, and Parise, with Langs and Gio trying to go 5-hole against Rangers goaltender Lundqvist. Zach Parise tried to go around Lundqvist but he got back in time to force Parise to eventually over skate and shoot wide of the net.
Post-game interviews showed frustration in the eyes of the Devils, as Zach Parise admitting they “stopped going at it in the third.”
You might bring up the fact that the Devils didn’t have the stick of Patrik Elias tonight, and you would be right. Nevertheless, the other Devils lines should and have shown the ability to score, including players like Jay Pandolfo, John Madden, Brian Gionta, and Jamie Langenbrunner. Players like Dainius Zubrus have also connected now in the past three games to get a goal in each matchup.
Brent Sutter, in his usual disgusted self, stated that they were “one mistake short” in winning this game. But the fact of the matter is, they were a good 40 minutes short from completing what could have been a victory over a team where they have played and now lost six times this season, with two more in a short span left in the schedule.
The Devils will be meeting up with the Rangers next Thursday, March 27th and ending their season against the New York Rangers on April 6th.