The New Jersey Devils were disappointed with their defensive effort in their last game. They plan to be a lot stingier against the NHL’s worst offense on Thursday.
The Devils saw a six-game point streak snapped with a 5-3 home loss to Florida on Tuesday. New Jersey had recorded shutouts over Philadelphia and Los Angeles before giving up five goals in the first two periods to the Panthers.
They will look to get back on track as they complete a three-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings.
One area upon which the Devils will attempt to improve? Interim head coach Alain Nasreddine felt his team did a poor job of preventing Florida’s forwards from camping out near the goaltender.
“They did a really good job against us (Tuesday). They just kept it simple and put pucks on net and we were soft in our net front, so they took advantage,” Nasreddine told reporters. “They went to the hard areas and for us, we were a no-show at the net front. That’s where the puck’s going to go.”
The Devils found themselves trapped in their end, allowing the Panthers to get comfortable.
“We were having trouble getting out of our zone,” forward Kyle Palmieri said to NHL.com. “We had to defend a little harder. Going into the third, we had a chance to come back. Had some good looks. Passed up a couple opportunities.
“They have a good offensive team but the best way to defend that is play in their end,” he added. “There’s not a whole lot of teams in the NHL that like to play in their end.”
Palmieri had one of the Devils’ goals on Tuesday and also scored in the first meeting with the Red Wings on Nov. 23, a 5-1 New Jersey victory. The Devils limited Detroit to 20 shots on goal. New Jersey will visit Detroit on Feb. 25 to close out the season series.
Detroit is averaging just 2.07 goals per game, by far the worst production in the league. The Wings have scored nine goals in the last six games.
Forward Anthony Mantha gave the Wings a boost in his first game since Dec. 21. Mantha assisted on a pair of Darren Helm goals in a 3-2 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday.
Mantha suffered a punctured lung and a rib injury when he was dragged to the ice by Toronto’s Jake Muzzin. He was unable to do any physical activity for the first three weeks after the injury.
“For a guy that’s gone through a lot this year — there was talk he might not even be able to play this year — he got cleared and came back and was our best player out there (Tuesday),” center Dylan Larkin told the team’s website. “We’re going to need him moving forward and it’s a great sign he was back playing that way.”
Mantha scored 12 goals the first two months of the season. He then missed three weeks due to a knee injury. He played four scoreless games (one assist) upon his return before he went on the shelf again.
“It was good to have Anthony back playing at that level,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When he plays at that level he’s one of the better players in the league. He’s really hard to handle. He’s got a really unique skill-set of size, speed, hands, shooting, passing. If he can keep playing at that level it makes us a way better hockey team.”
–Field Level Media