New Jersey Devils: What Should We Take From Wild Third Period?

New Jersey Devils left wing Nolan Foote (25): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils left wing Nolan Foote (25): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils went into the third period of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins down 6-0. It was a terrible performance, especially by the goaltending duo of Scott Wedgewood and Aaron Dell. Mackenzie Blackwood was ruled out right before the game, and the lineup put in place was not very exciting. Nobody could have predicted what would happen next.

It all started early in the period. The Penguins started it on the penalty kill, and a bad call led to a 5-on-3 Devils advantage. Nico Hischier scored almost immediately on a one-time shot. No big deal, the Penguins still have a five-goal lead. Then, the Devils took a penalty, so it probably felt like the Penguins would put another dagger in. Instead, Yegor Sharangovich scored the team’s first shorthanded goal since the middle of February. Now, it was 6-2.

The Penguins started to play a little tight when Nathan Bastian scored three minutes later to make it 6-3. It felt like something strange was happening, but it’s still a three-goal lead in the third period. Sidney Crosby scored to make it 7-3, and the comeback felt officially over.

Not so fast.

Jack Hughes scored with seven minutes left in the game. Nolan Foote scored one minute later. It’s now a two-goal game, and the Penguins are on their heels. The Devils added some chances before Andreas Johnsson got a deflection goal, ending a really bad scoring drought. Now, with 40 seconds left, the Devils are down one.

The team still lost, but it was very exciting for those who didn’t give up on the game. There was hope. Just like there was hope in the last two games the Devils went down big against the New York Rangers. This ended the same; with a loss.

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So what can the Devils take from these losses? The young players are scoring. Hughes hit double-digit goals for the first time in his career. Hischier is putting points on the board. Marian Studenic, Jesper Boqvist, and Michael McLeod were the only forwards who didn’t get a point, and they all had various chances in the period. Will Butcher put up three assists. Nick Merkley, Sharangovich, and Miles Wood also had two points.

The Devils are watching young players sneak up on teams in the third period. When there’s no pressure, they are thriving. Head coach Lindy Ruff has to find a way to take the pressure off in the first period and let this team play loose. This is a team that was without P.K. Subban, Blackwood, Ty Smith, Jesper Bratt, and Pavel Zacha. Yet, they fought until the end. If Ruff can find a way to get the players in the right mind space, especially whoever is in net, then this could be a team that makes some noise down the stretch. At least for now, they will keep making these games fun to watch. To answer the question in the headline, the Devils should take excitement for the future out of the third period. This team never quits. That’s a trait they will need when they are actually competitive.