Monday, December 10, 2007

Devils drop second straight in nation's capital


Maybe the Ranger game took something out of them. Whatever the reason, the Devils just weren't sharp enough to get a win in the nation's capital, falling short 3-2 to the Capitals.


The difference was the second period where the younger Caps dominated the action scoring early and late in the stanza while outshooting the Devs 10-2.


A period after John Madden and Swedish rookie pivot Nicklas Backstrom exchanged goals less than three minutes apart, it was all Washington in the second.


Sometimes, when you work hard, you get the breaks. Let's just say that's what happened on Jeff Schultz' slapper from inside the blueline which deflected off two sticks including New Jersey defenseman Colin White past a startled Kevin Weekes who got the start to give Martin Brodeur a rest in the second game of a back-to-back. Brodeur had started the last 12.


The goal gave the Caps the lead for good only 53 seconds into the second. They would generate many scoring chances with just Weekes standing in the way of a certain blowout. Unfortunately for the netminder, he just didn't get enough support and with under two minutes remaining, Quintin Laing (interesting name huh?) pounced on a rebound to score his first career NHL goal to put the Capitals up two headed to the final stanza.


Just wondering if there's ever been another NHL player named Quintin?!?!?!?!?! Pretty distinct name.


The score could've been worse if ex-Devil Viktor Kozlov knew how to shove a puck into an empty net instead of stickhandling like a knucklehead on a Washington man-advantage. That play is all you need to know about the Russian Enigma who has bounced around the league despite immense size and skill.


The Devils made the contest interesting in the third and nearly tied it if not for a lengthy video review before they ruled against one-time Ranger farm product Mike Mottau's potential goal just 52 seconds in which would've cut the deficit to one.


"It just happened to hit my skate," Mottau indicated to the AP afterwards. "I didn't kick it."

"It's not the right call. It hit the other foot," a disappointed coach Brent Sutter explained. "It didn't hit the foot that showed the kicking motion, and it's clear on the replay [Mottau] shoots the puck, it's a rebound, and it goes off the skate and goes back in.


"That's not why we lost. Our second period was brutal. We had 18 brutal players in the second period. They left our goalie hung out."


Of course, the first-year NHL coach is right. It's not why his team lost. And anyway, the Caps had one taken away near the end of the first which would've given them a 2-1 lead due to a quick whistle. These things tend to even out. Ironically, that was the case last night.


It would only take another 1:26 before New Jersey actually did have a goal which stood up to cut it to 3-2 when grinder David Clarkson's wraparound just snuck through Olaf Kolzig with 17:42 left.


But despite carrying the play outshooting their Southeastern opponents 9-5, the Devils couldn't find the equalizer on this night as Kolzig made just enough stops including a tricky one on a Jamie Langenbrunner slapper thru traffic to preserve the win for Washington.


Notes: In his fourth start of the season, Weekes took the defeat finishing with 21 saves. Meanwhile, injured left wing Jay Pandolfo again sat out for the sixth consecutive time with a groin injury after playing 307 straight. ... Devils dressed seven defensemen playing Vitaly Vishnevski while healthy scratching Mike Rupp. ... It was the Devils' first loss in regulation in 11 games since a 1-0 defeat to the Islanders on Nov.16.

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