Devils Zajac Gets OT Win

In Overtime, the Devils had continued a horrible tradition of losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in 4 OT attempts.  That tradition continued on Friday night as the Devils lost to Carolina 2-1 in overtime, making the streak 5 OT losses in a row against the ‘Canes.

Tonight, the Devils changed that.

With team captain Jamie Langenbrunner out of the lineup, Brian Rolston stepped up to the Z Z Pops line, and the combination worked.  The Overtime goal played out like this:

  • Colin White want to pass the puck across the defensive zone to Mike Mottau, but misses the puck.  The team gasps as a forward of Carolina is on the forecheck and is dangerously close to stealing the puck.
  • The ‘Canes out of position allows White to quickly recover and get the puck down the ice along the boards instead.
  • Zach Parise receives the puck and drags it across the ice in the Carolina zone to the opposite side.
  • Zach Parise shoots the puck, it hits a Carolina defenseman and drops to the ice.  Travis Zajac picks up the dropped puck, and shoots, hitting Cam Ward who has gone down to make the save.
  • The rebound is left in front of the net, where Brian Rolston swings and misses.
  • Zajac is still in position, grabs the missed puck and this time puts it in to the top corner past Ward who has yet to get back to his feet.

This, of course, happened in the span of about 6 seconds.  It was a fast play, it could have had 87 different outcomes, but this one was the best scenario and it got the Devils the series lead back, now at 2-1.

 

Good points about the game:

Eric Staal was unarmed during the course of the game.  He is by far the most dangerous man in front of the Devils net, and could muster only a penalty for slashing against the Devils.

Forechecking was key in pushing the Hurricanes in to their zone and keeping offensive pressure to get better scoring chances and wear down Carolina’s defensemen.  Late in the first period, Brian Gionta all alone intercepted a pass in Carolina’s zone and scored a goal  with only 9 seconds left.

Coach Brent Sutter kept the lines the same as when the game started, which helped to keep the game flowing and limited confusion of line changes, passes, and positioning.

Penalty killing helped the Devils and kept Carolina discouraged and off the board with unnecessary goals.  However, at the immediate conclusion of a penalty to Paul Martin, Carolina’s Chad LaRose scored to tie up the game.

 

Some improvements that would be nice:

Power play goals.  The Devils had a total of 4 power plays and were unable to score on any of them, although not for lack of trying.  Halfway through the first, the Devils got a 4 minute power play and were unable to score, but spent a lot of time making good scoring opportunities.  The missed some great chances by shooting wide.

Carolina had 5 power play chances to score as well.  As mentioned earlier, they capitalized as one had immediately expired, so it was not counted, but the player exiting the penalty box barely got both skates on the ice when the goal was scored.  The Devils need to play much more disciplined and stop giving Carolina the number of scoring chances they had.

 

As a whole, the game went well for the Devils.  The teams appear to evenly matched despite their placement in the standings.  The Devils may have the lead now but they must continue to play strong if they have any hope of taking this series and keep it from dragging on too long.  Game 4 will also take place at the Shelter, with the same 7:30 pm start time on Tuesday, April 21.

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