Devils Drop 5-4 Shootout Loss to Oilers After Taking 3-Goal Lead
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Well, that wasn’t so good.
Years ago, a three-goal lead for the New Jersey Devils heading into the final 20 minutes of play was about as ironclad as the battleship New Jersey. You just weren’t going to come back against that team.
But these aren’t your dad’s Devils anymore. Heck, they’re not even your older brother’s.
A three-goal lead in Edmonton on Monday night evaporated in a span of 7:47, and it took a late ricochet goal by Patrik Elias for the Devils to salvage a single point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Oilers. New Jersey is still seeking its first win of the 2013-14 campaign, after a season-opening shutout defeat at Pittsburgh followed by a home shootout setback to the New York Islanders.
“It’s a learning experience early in the season,” said Devils head coach Pete DeBoer to NJ.com afterwards. “We’ve got to get better. I liked our game much better than I did in the home opener against the Islanders. (The point takes) a little bit of the sting, but you’re still leaving points on the table. No, not much. Not for being up, 3-0.”
New Jersey’s five-game road trip, which continues tonight in Vancouver, started off well, with Jaromir Jagr scoring his first goal in a Devils uniform on a wrist shot from the high slot just under three minutes into the game.
Detroit pickup Damien Brunner notched a power-play goal five minutes later to make it 2-0 after 20 minutes, and Michael Ryder connected at 4:34 of the second stanza for his second goal as a Devil and a 3-0 advantage after two periods.
Things were still fine for the visitors until the 5:43 mark of the final frame, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied on a melee in front on a power play. The goal came just 24 seconds after Devils captain Bryce Salvador had been sent off for delay of game after inadvertently flipping the puck into the stands at Rexall Place.
Then it really got crazy.
“Whenever you score you get some momentum,” said Salvador to NJ.com. “They kept the pressure on and they got the second one. It’s pretty tough when they’re coming and coming and coming.”
Former Boston blueliner and now Edmonton captain Andrew Ference fired a shot home from the left point through a screen at 9:28, and the Devils’ lead was down to one. It dissolved completely when David Perron scored at 11:47, and was a distant memory by the time Taylor Hall swept a loose puck under Martin Brodeur (23 saves) at 13:30 to put the Oilers ahead.
“When they got that breath of fresh air they jumped all over us and their youth showed against us,” said Brodeur to NJ.com. “After the second goal you could tell we were sitting back and kind of were on our heels the whole time. When you play like that it’s tough to keep leads.”
Dainius Zubrus was whistled for high sticking with 2:51 left, and it seemed like the Devils’ collapse would be complete. It was staved off, at least partially, when Elias struck shorthanded in the final minute of regulation. Skating down the right side towards the goal line, the veteran winger banked a backhand pass off of Ference and between the pads of Edmonton netminder Jason LaBarbera (21 saves) with 54 ticks remaining in regulation to knot matters.
The shootout saw both Jordan Eberle and Perron beat Brodeur on backhanders to the stick side. Brodeur tried to entice both Oilers to shoot on his glove side, even waving his glove slightly as they skated in, but looked a bit slow as he went down and they went the other way to lift the puck over his legs. Brunner and Ryan Clowe failed to connect for New Jersey, and the Devils went down to their second straight shootout defeat.
It was the type of collapse that didn’t happen in the Devils’ heyday, when Brodeur was younger and also protected by the likes of defensemen Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko. Now Brodeur is older and not quite as quick, and Stevens’ and Daneyko’s numbers hang from the rafters at the Prudential Center along with the franchise’s last Stanly Cup championship banner from 10 years ago.
Elias and Brodeur are the last remaining members of that team. However, the Devils did make it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 but lost. Their time is slowly running out, and nights like Monday don’t help any future championship dreams even if this season is still quite young.
“I was just happy it went in,” said Elias to NJ.com of his goal. “Happy to at least get a point.”
Should have been two.
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