Saturday, January 23, 2010

Devils overcome rocky second to win on Long Island

Okay I admit it, I didn't have a good feeling about this game. Not when the Isles had spanked us three straight times going back to last season in Nassau by four goals each time and with them having a six-game winning streak at home overall. Especially with a banged-up offense that's scored eleven goals in its last eight games. My angst was added to when word came down that Martin Brodeur would be making his 28th consecutive start because supposedly Yann Danis had the most ill-timed stomach bug in history just as it looked like he was about to get his first start in two months.

Partly due to all that, I avoided watching the first period and instead saw a little Jets special on CBS from 7-8 but every time I flipped to the Devil broadcast during commercial Steve and Chico were praising the team's effort and judging by the 13-5 shot total it did look like they came ready to play, unlike five days ago. Jamie Langenbrunner scored the only goal of the period at 5:52 after assists from Travis Zajac and Bryce Salvador for the captain's 14th of the year.

So much to my consternation when I did start watching the game in the second period, the Devils were playing on tilt...to the tune of being outshot 14-1! Granted the Isles had the benefit of seven minutes of power plays (though even that included a shorthanded breakaway from Dean McAmmond where he somehow missed the net) and the Devils got a tough break with Colin White's five minute major penalty for boarding, though it was probably the right call. There was no real malicious intent but it had to be called because it was a shove from behind into the boards and drew blood.

Still, I was hopping mad over how bad the Devils were looking and it did look like the Isles were ready to shame us again when they scored twice on the five-minute power play. Especially when Kyle Okposo scored just nineteen seconds into the long man advantage at 9:34. Okposo's goal caused a normally mild-mannered Jacques Lemaire to go ballistic on the bench, using a certain four-letter word twice. I thought I saw him mouth 'Wake the **** up!' towards his team but as it turned out it was toward the refs who missed an obvious hook on Salvador moments before the goal.

At least the Devils didn't totally cave in, despite having to play four and a half defensemen the rest of the game (Mark Fraser and his sub-ten minutes per night basically count as a half at this point), though Jack Hillen gave the Isles the lead at 11:36. Things were going so badly for the Devils, the Isles' power play actually lasted longer than five minutes as there was nobody in the box to come out once it ended. I'm not sure what the rule is on that though I assumed someone had to take White's place in the box, but nobody did.

Just when I was about to go ballistic over the Devils being outshot 14-0 (never mind the PP's, where was the offense the other eleven minutes of even-strength hockey?) they got a late power play in the second period. And finally, a shot on net...when a Zach Parise pass bounced off of Freddy Meyer's skate and boom, past Rick DiPietro tying the game and ending the Devils' power play drought all with one lucky play. Linemates Zajac and Langenbrunner got the assists on Parise's 22nd goal, which came with just thirty-two seconds left in the period. Thanks to the horseshoe up our rear ends, we still had momentum despite only being tied and badly outplayed.
Perhaps that goal did have a lot to do with what happened in the third period, as the Devils dominated from the outset by outshooting the Isles 13-3 and finally came the second break we needed, when a shot by Salvador went through a crowd and beat DiPietro at 13:11 for the gritty defenseman's third goal of the year. Rob Niedermayer got the lone assist with a big faceoff win, as the Devils took a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Part of the reason for our domination I felt was that Lemaire played the kids more in the third period. Nicklas Bergfors and Vladimir Zharkov - among others - had some very good shifts, though overall the icetime was pretty much in line with the norm it just seemed like he did lean on the younger legs (finally) more in the third. I also thought Lemaire managed the last two minutes very well with Nieds and Jay Pandolfo getting the last even-strength shift and then the Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner line being out when the Isles had an empty net to finish it off. Which Parise did with his second of the night at 19:14 to sew up a big 4-2 Devils victory.

Notes: In case you're keeping track of our infinite roster moves at home, Illka Pikkaranen was put on waivers, likely ending his brief Devils career. His claim to fame came during the summer when Lou Lamoriello was hyping up a mysterious overseas signing. Well, they can't all work out like Brian Rafalski. And Rod Pelley was put on IR, though whether he's become the new Pierre Luc-Letourneau Leblond and come up with imaginary injuries to increase our roster size isn't clear.

BoNY Three Stars:

  1. Bryce Salvador (goal, assist, +2 in 24:02)
  2. Zach Parise (two goals, +2)
  3. Jamie Langenbrunner (goal, assist, +2)

1 comment:

Derek Felix said...

the winner looked like Palmieri touched it. Wouldn't be shocked if they changed it. That Parise break really swung momentum. Devs dominated 3rd.

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