If Cory Schneider was over his stomach bug that forced him to play backup the last two games, it might have returned after the first period on Tuesday night.
For the sixth time in their last eight games at home, the Devils lost in regulation, suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Kings. Los Angeles goaltender Peter Budaj entered the contest 2-0-0 in his career versus New Jersey and looked to maintain that and end the team’s four-game skid in the process.
The Kings, playing their third game of a four-game road trip before hosting this weekend’s All-Star game, controlled the first period from the start. Anze Kopitar converted on the power play 50 seconds into the period to break the ice. Tanner Pearson added another to go ahead by a pair. Alec Martinez would add the exclamation point on the period at 16:15, making it 3-0. Prior to Tuesday, Los Angeles entered as one of the lowest scoring first period teams in the league.
That would be all for Schneider, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 13 shots in the first.
The Devils managed to hold off the Kings for the rest of the night, but did little to help themselves get on the board. A second P.A. Parenteau pushed the puck into a net that had just come off the mooring in the second period. There was no goal on the play and the ensuing power play was just one of four uneventful ones, going 0-4 on the night.
Former King Kyle Quincey ended Budaj’s shutout bid 7:19 into the third with a point shot, but New Jersey’s 10-shot push in the third was too late to try and erase their slow start.
Keith Kinkaid appeared in his third-straight game after relieving Schneider to start the second period stopping all 13 shots faced.
“Not the way I wanted to go,” Schneider said following the loss. “I didn’t feel like any were really bad goals necessarily. As a goalie you want to find a way to save, you want to make those saves to give your team a chance.”
Despite the score, Devils’ Travis Zajac called the 25-shot outing one of the teams better games that just didn’t end with the reward of a victory.
“Against a team that usually controls play and territory, I thought we were the team that dictated that tonight,” he said. “The score didn’t dictate the way we played. We were on pucks, we made smart decisions.”
Head coach John Hynes had no issue with the teams effort on Tuesday, a game that was as much a game of bounces than anything else.
“We came ready to play,” Hynes said. “We could have had two goals in the first shift, we didn’t do it.”
“We had ample opportunity to put the puck in the net and get ourselves back in there and unfortunately tonight we didn’t have any puck luck to get it back in the net but we had plenty of chances.”
The Devils will look to right themselves at home, a surprisingly tough place to play as of late, when they host one of the hottest teams in the Washington Capitals on Thursday.