Everything fell apart for the New Jersey Devils yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Defensive breakdowns, turnovers and sloppy play helped the Penguins dominate the Devils, 5-1. It pushed New Jersey’s losing streak to four games, and handed the Devils its first loss in regulation.
The Devils will need to figure it out quickly. New Jersey completes it’s first series of back-to-back games with an afternoon matchup with the New York Islanders today at Nassau Coliseum.
New Jersey never threatened in their loss to the Penguins. Pittsburgh used its speed to force numerous turnovers, and outshot the Devils 30-16. Three of the Penguins goals came from Devils turnovers in its own end. The loss served as a wake-up call.
“For me, if you’re going to play that way, you might as well get beat 5-1 or 6-1 rather than 2-1 and fool yourself,” DeBoer told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “So, it was a good lesson for us. We’ve only lost one game in regulation, but we’ve got to get back to work here.”
The Devils fell into a familiar pattern. They allowed Pittsburgh to control the game early, depending on Martin Brodeur to make several quality saves. When they made their push, New Jersey was already down 2-0.
“It’s got to bother you a little bit the things that we’ve done and if it wasn’t for Marty the game was over right in the first period,” Patrik Elias told Gulitti. “It’s a good team. They make plays. Some of our things didn’t work as well as against the other teams and they make plays in the offensive zone, the neutral zone, quick ups and we had trouble with that. And offensively we couldn’t get anything going.”
Brodeur stopped 25 of 30 shots, losing for the third straight game.
New Jersey ends the second game of a back-to-back weekend at Nassau Coliseum, where they won their only away game this season. That came in the season opener, a 2-1 win on January 19.
The Islanders defeated the Devils, 5-4, in overtime Thursday night at the Prudential Center. John Tavares paced New York with three points (2g, 1a). Brad Boyes and Frans Nielsen each finished with multi-point nights.
Boyes scored the overtime game-winner, giving the Islanders its second straight win. New York took advantage of a powerplay in overtime, knocking the puck of Brodeur’s stick as he went behind the net. It found Tavares just below the right circle, but Brodeur recovered to stop that attempt. From there, it was a mess of bodies in the crease. Boyes found the puck, chipping it past Brodeur and Bryce Salvador for the powerplay tally.
The Islanders went 3-for-4 on the powerplay, a problem New Jersey fixed against the Penguins. Facing the tough task of playing in its first back-to-back series, the Devils realize the importance of a good start.
“When you’re sitting on that bench it’s not fun and it’s still not fun now,” right wing David Clarkson told Gulitti. “But I think we’ll learn from it. We’ve got a veteran (group) and a great locker room in here, so I think we’ll bounce back. We’ve just got to come out tomorrow from the beginning of the game, that first shift. We can’t get down 7-2 in shots or 8-2 in shots right away. We’ve got to come out ready to play.”
Johan Hedberg will start his second game of the season. He played well in season debut Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins, stopping 27 shots in regulation and overtime. He couldn’t keep Boston off the board in the shootout, allowing two of six shooters to score.
This is the third meeting between the Islanders and Devils this season. The two teams will play a total of five games against one another. This is the second of three games between the two teams at Nassau Coliseum.