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Game 6 Recap– Devils Fall To Penguins, 4-1

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Jordan Staal celebrating as he scores his second goal in a Pens 4-1 victory over the Devils. (Photo Credit/ Reuters)

Coming off a sloppy effort against the Sharks, the Devils looked to bounce back. Tonight wouldn’t be the case. The Devils took an early penalty at 5:31 into the first as David Clarkson highsticked Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh’s power play, even without top center Sidney Crosby and forward Evgeni Malkin, capitalized numerous times tonight. Their power play capitalized at 6:07 in the first period when Jordan Staal connected for his fourth goal of the season. The shot and goal, which was a complete bullet off the stick of Staal, was assisted by Richard Park (3) and Matt Cooke (4). The Devils played fairly well for the remainder of the period, giving up a total of 9 shots on goal, while having 10 of their own.

Unlike last night, the Devils played well in the 2nd period. Though they did not score, there were numerous chances for them, including a break away opportunity by Adam Henrique. There were no penalties committed by either team in the second period. When the horn went off to end the period, the Devils still trailed 1-0 but had outshot the Pens 19-13.

But the third period was brutal for the visiting team from Jersey. Petr Sykora was given a 4 minute minor penalty for high-sticking, even though it was Patrik Elias who committed the infraction. The Devils did score a short-handed goal, their second in as many nights. Ilya Kovalchuk, who was played some key minutes on the penalty kill, gave a beautiful feed to Patrik Elias, who ironically scored on the backhand. For Elias, the goal was his third of the season. Kovalchuk (4) was given the primary assist while  Anton Volchenkov (1) recorded the secondary assist. However, just 1 minute and a half after the Elias shorthanded goal, the Penguins capitalized on their power play opportunity when Chris Kuntiz (2) scored over the glove of Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg. The Pens would added two more goals to their lead, with scores from Jordan Staal (5) and James Neal (8).

In all, the Devils had their chances. They did, however, give up a lot of shots, 29 to be exact, while only registering 24. They committed careless penalties that took them out of two power play opportunities. The Devils need to be able to create some more efficient offense, as well as stop committing turnovers in the neutral zone.

Grades:

Offense- D+: No regular strength or power play goals tonight for the Devils offense. They created only a few solid scoring chances and even then, Fleury was excellent, stopping the Devils in their tracks.

Defense C-: The defense was more involved in the offense tonight, no doubt about that. However, they committed careless and at times, silly turnovers. They looked overmatched against this injury-riddled Penguins team.

Goaltender- C-: Not a great game for Johan Hedberg. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been outstanding all year and is given a pass for a somewhat poor outing tonight. It does say something that all 4 goals Hedberg gave up were to his glove-side high. After the game Hedberg stated “Maybe they figured out I have a really bad glove.”

Special teams D: Only two power play opportunities, both of which were cut short due to penalties of their own. Devils took a total of 5 penalties. An interesting statistic I read is that the Devils are 19-of-19 at killing penalties at home this year. However, they are a meager 4-of-7 on the penalty kill on the road. That’s something that needs to improve.

Notes:

  • Adam Henrique, recalled from Albany today, registered just over 15 minutes of ice time tonight and recorded 1 shot on goal.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the team in ice time this season, was given some “rest” and only played 21:05.
  • Zach Parise only recorded 1 shot tonight. Last night, Kovalchuk only recorded 1 shot on goal.
  • Nick Palmieri led the team with 5 shots on goal.

My 3 stars:

3rd star- Richard Park– 2 primary assists tonight. He was noticeable on the ice all game.

2nd star- Jordan Staal– 2 goals tonight. Played well all night; proving that he can fill in on the top line in Crosby’s absense.

1st star- Marc-Andre Fleury– 22 saves tonight, some of them very impressive.

The Devils head out west to take on the LA Kings. That game will be Tuesday night, October 25, with a scheduled puck drop of just after 10:30 PM (EST). That game can be seen on MSG +.

The Atlantic Division standings after tonight:

(NHL.com)

GPWLOTPTSROWGFGAHOMEAWAYL10
PITTSBURGH1062214530223-1-13-1-16-2-2
PHILADELPHIA74219423191-2-13-0-04-2-1
NEW JERSEY63217113162-1-11-1-03-2-1
NY ISLANDERS63306314143-1-00-2-03-3-0
NY RANGERS62226212130-0-02-2-22-2-2