In the Stands: Devils find victory in tough matchup

The night started out as most do to trips to the Prudential Center.  Jen and I board the train in Dover on the way to Newark – though this time we had a few friends with us.  The six of us were planning on meeting a seventh who was arriving at Newark Penn outside the arena.

I wasn’t afraid, though, of finding a method to the arena.  Unlike opening night, members of the New Jersey Devils contacted me to assure me that shuttles would be waiting like they were last year to take fans to and from the game.

What I didn’t realize was that the shuttles sat, literally, 12 people.  And they wouldn’t pack everyone in them like the old shuttle buses used to.  That is, until the sky opened up and we were drenched.  Then they allowed us to stand in the shuttles.  There also only appeared to be two of them, so you were waiting quite some time before you were able to be picked up.

Okay, so now we finally get in to the arena.  I have, once again, missed the opening ceremonies, but thankfully I was able to see the opening face-off.  But I’m excited to be there.  It feels like the Devils home now.  Things have settled in and I can’t picture the Devils playing anywhere else.

As always, attendance pops in my head as I notice there are empty luxury boxes and lower tier seats, but the rest of the arena is packed, and the lower tier seemed fuller than normal.  Perhaps that’s because they all want $1 hot dogs…

The Devils opened up the game scoring a very early goal.  I laughed at the comment made by a fan behind me who said “This never happens for the Devils!”  The Devils, like they played on Friday against the Capitals, played strong.  They were on top of things, but net minding still seemed a little shaky.  Scott Clemmensen made his second start in a back to back game.

But that’s not to say there weren’t setbacks.  Brian Gionta took a penalty before the halfway point of the period was hit and not even 30 seconds later, Washington capitalized and scored to tie up the game.  Alex Ovechkin broke the tie at the end of the period, which I felt was going to drain the life out of the Devils for the second period.

To my surprise, it didn’t; mostly thanks to Jamie Langenbrunner who scored in the first minute to tie things up and bring the energy back in to the team and the fans.  Patrik Elias scored to break the tie, and although Washington did score later in the second, it looked as if the Devils actually had the strength to break out of the losing streak they found themselves in.

The Devils penalty killing unit did kill off a penalty during the second, as Colin White found himself in the penalty box for cross checking Alex Ovechkin.  Personally, I think it was justified.  But the Devils penalty kill wasn’t tested again after that, and their record has been pretty poor this week.

Patrik Elias looked really solid the entire game, while Zach Parise was neutralized.  This is something very important, though, to the team.  They need to have more than one guy who can score goals consistently for the team.  Zach Parise cannot be the only one, as teams will begin to figure this out, and cover him.  Guys like Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, John Madden, and even Jay Pandolfo must be able to get in front and get the shots that they need to make offense happen.

Scott Clemmensen did not seem to play any better than Kevin Weekes.  In my opinion, they are pretty much at the same level, but nevertheless, Brent Sutter will stick with Clemmensen as long as he thinks the team as a whole will play better with him between the pipes.

Scoring went back and forth in  the third period, but it looked as if they were truly going to win it as the clock was winding down and the Devils were showing some good defensive plays.  The crowd was very much in to this game as well; a buzz was going through the stands as Devils fans excited and happy began the wave that went around several times.

A face-off deep in the Devils zone, however, and a struggle in the front of the net left Alex Ovechkin open to take a shot from a rebound and put it in the top corner of the net.

From the stands, the green light went on before the red light, so it appeared as if the goal came too late.  But it was reviewed and, apparently evident to the TV viewers that this goal was scored while there was still a second left on the board.  The arena grew silent as overtime began, as did I.  Fans were distraught, as was the team and Brent Sutter, from what I heard.

Washington made the best chances in Overtime, but the Devils found a way to hold them off and the shootout began.  Clemmensen, from what I remembered in the past, was a very strong shootout goaltender, so I figured getting past overtime and in to the shootout would be best for him.

First up was ex-Devil Viktor Kozlov.  Devils fans appropriately booed him recognizing he was an ex-Devil.  Clemmensen saved his shot, as well as the other two capitals that went up.  To be honest, they didn’t even look like they had great opportunities – unlike the Devils.  First Zach Parise faked out the Washington net minder and was able to get the puck in the wide open opposite side of the net.  Then Patrik Elias tried to feed the puck through Jose Theodor’s legs, but to no avail.

Last up for Washington was Boyd Gordon, but he again was what appeared to be an easy stop for Clemmensen and the Devils rushed out to celebrate the end of the losing streak, their first victory since Wednesday, November 5.

Above are the photo’s from the game.

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