New Jersey Devils suffer heartbreaking loss to Avalanche


Well, this is a tough loss for the New Jersey Devils to swallow. After scoring the go-ahead goal halfway in the third, to surrender two goals in the final eight minutes and lose the game 3-2 is deflating. Cory Schneider is undoubtedly going to take the blame for this one as a soft goal by Erik Johnson tied the game at two before Matt Duchene was able to give the Avs the lead with less than three minutes remaining. Johnson skated down the right wing and let a harmless shot go toward Schneider and it somehow found its way through him. This has been Schneider’s biggest issue this season, as he far too often lets a weak goal get by him and change the momentum of the game. He was able to redeem himself a bit by making a great save on Duchene before Matt was able to put his rebound home, but the damage had been done. It’s disappointing as well because Schneider was having a terrific game up until that point. It’s just one of those things you can’t explain.

The game started off well for the Devils who were playing the second night of a back-to-back coming off a shutout in Washington. Martin Havlat was able to give New Jersey an early 1-0 lead when he put home the rebound of a Michael Ryder shot. It was Havlat’s second of the season and first goal in over a month. Remember, he missed a lengthy period of time due to facial cuts and a lower body injury so the drought isn’t as bad as it seems. Havlat has been very productive when healthy and most importanty he breathes life into Patrik Elias who had another strong game as well. Elias was lost without Havlat in the lineup, but since Marty returned he’s been terrific. Tonight Elias was able to pick up a pair of assists and that long-awaited goal isn’t far off.

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Colorado would get that goal back a few minutes later as John Mitchell would squeak one home off a feed from Gabriel Landeskog. The game would remain tied at one for about two periods mostly thanks to Schneider. As I mentioned, aside from his ugly goal allowed Schneider actually played a terrific game. The Devils got extremely sloppy and lethargic in the second period and Cory was there to bail the team out numerous times. Schneider ended up making 26 saves, but it’s the one he didn’t make on Johnson that will get all the attention. Schneider has only given up four goals in his last three games, but two of them could have been easily prevented. If he cleans up those mistakes, the Devils will be in great shape as the season progresses.

Eight minutes into the third period, the Devils would finally break the 1-1 stalemate as Eric Gelinas took the puck off an Elias faceoff win and wristed a perfect shot into the top corner of the net. It was an absolutely flawless shot and the reason that Gelinas should never be taken out of the lineup. It seemed like the Devils were on their way to their third consecutive impressive win, but then Cory’s bad goal allowed led to their eventual defeat. It’s tough to pin the loss on Schneider who played so well, but that mistake changed momentum in a negative way for the Devils.

One big positive that came from tonight’s game is the Devils’ revitalized penalty kill. The last three games, the Devils have been a perfect 11-11 on the penalty kill and have looked solid doing it. Andy Greene and Adam Larsson have played their tails off as well as all the other players that have been used on the unit. At the risk of beating a dead horse, this resurgence comes without one notable name in the lineup: Bryce Salvador. With Sal in the lineup, the Devils’ PK sat around an abysmal 65%; they’ve been perfect without him. Salvador’s a great guy, but the defense is in a much better place with him eating hot dogs in a suite.

The Devils are off for a few days and then they return to action on Tuesday night in Winnipeg as they kick off a four game Western Canada trip. New Jersey is 1-0-0 against Winnipeg this season defeating them in a shootout so there’s no reason to think they can’t get another two points on Tuesday. Let’s just hope Schneider brings a mistake-free game to Canada or else the Devils will be in trouble.