It was an incredibly slow and boring game in the Big Apple, but the New Jersey Devils somehow managed to pull off a win in Game 3 of their first-round series. There were still issues that need fixing, but a win is a win. If they can figure it out, this team showed in the regular season that they can beat anyone when they get going.
Akira Schmid made a big save on the early New York Rangers powerplay and carried this team into an undeserved overtime making 27 saves in regulation. He showed composure all night and looked completely unphased in his first playoff game. He earned being this team’s starter for another night.
The effort from Michael McLeod, Kevin Bahl, Nico Hischier and Timo Meier showed a lot of character, heart, and physicality again. These guys are some of the few doing much of anything on this team and were doing everything they could other than getting on the scoresheet.
Jack Hughes has a pair of goals in three games and is doing what he can to carry the offense. His shot was a laser and perfectly placed, which is about the only thing that is going to beat Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin at this point.
The defense as a whole played a lot better and kept the Rangers from getting the grade-A chances they were scoring on in Games 1 and 2. They also did a great job on the penalty kill, making sure Kreider was tied up, and they didn’t let anything through the center of the ice for a big one-timer. They should feel very good about how the game went for them.
Ondrej Palat got outworked for the puck in the middle of the ice, and it led to a 2 on 1 and the Rangers taking the lead early. The regular season wasn’t great for him, and this team brought him here for playoff experience. He has been a passenger at best so far. Dawson Mercer and Tomas Tatar were also complete nonfactors for the third game in a row. They at least avoided the big turnover.
Jesper Bratt struggled to even stay on his feet this game, and he could barely pass the puck. The guy looks like a lost rookie on the ice and is playing himself out of some contract money with each shift. Even his assist in overtime was a flubbed pass. The Devils are incredibly lucky he messed up just the right way so that Hamilton was coming by at the right time. He needs to calm his game down and get back to playing how he normally does because this team can’t afford him being average.
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The penalty call against McLeod felt incredibly soft and he barely pushed the guy. Meier took a clear headshot in the second without it being called, and the three interference calls were something different compared to the last decade of playoff hockey. While some of the penalties were soft calls, most were avoidable plays that put the Devils at a disadvantage.