In a season that has gone astray just 37 games in, the New Jersey Devils have already fired their coach and traded their best player. They added another low moment Friday when they lost in overtime by putting the puck into their own net.
After their latest setback, the Devils visit the Ottawa Senators on Sunday for their final road game of 2019.
New Jersey’s 30 points are the second fewest in the NHL and its combined 25 losses in regulation and overtime are the second most. The Devils fired coach John Hynes on Dec. 3 and are 3-6-2 since Alain Nasreddine took over. They are 2-2-1 since dealing left wing Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 16.
On Friday, New Jersey fell 5-4 at home in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Devils allowed the game-winning goal when defenseman Damon Severson’s errant clearing attempt went past goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood with 2:22 left in overtime and the goal was credited to Toronto’s William Nylander.
“Just a bad bounce,” Severson said. “I wasn’t trying to shoot it by any means. Their guy cut into the net and I just tried to protect the puck away from him. Just ended up going off my stick and into the net. Just bad luck, I guess. Can’t do that.”
Severson’s bad bounce occurred after the Devils allowed a power-play goal to John Tavares with 11:45 left in the third period, continuing a season-long problem with third periods. The Devils have allowed 47 third-period goals and are 7-3-3 when leading or tied entering the third.
Besides avoiding another bad bounce and another third-period meltdown, the Devils are hoping to get continued production from their top line of Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt, who all scored Friday. Hischier and Bratt had a season-high three points Friday while Palmieri has four goals in his last six games.
Ottawa is 5-2-3 in its last 10 games since a five-game losing streak from Nov. 25-Dec. 3. The Senators have gained a point in a season-high four straight games (2-0-2) and headed into the Christmas break with a 3-1 home victory over Buffalo on Monday.
“We found a way and I think in a lot of our wins we find a way,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “I thought it was a good team win.”
Goaltender Craig Anderson made a season-high 43 saves in his first game since Dec. 7 due to a knee injury while Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice.
Pageau is second on the Senators with 18 goals and 28 points behind Anthony Duclair’s 21 goals and 30 points. Pageau’s next goal will match the career high he set in 2015-16, and he has 15 of those goals since Nov. 1.
Three of Pageau’s goals occurred Nov. 13 in a 4-2 win at New Jersey when he recorded his first career hat trick. He scored late in the first period and then added two goals in the final 2:01 as Ottawa scored three times in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
Ottawa is 6-2-2 in the past 10 meetings with the Devils.
–Field Level Media