The Devils defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-1, tonight at Prudential Center to close out a four-game homestand with goals by Adam Henrique, Damon Severson and Devante Smith-Pelly. They are now 4-2-2 and 4-0-1 at home. Here's what we learned:
1) Strong starts help you win hockey games and quick goals always put the opposition on their heels. That's why what happens next can either swing momentum for or against you. We saw that on display tonight when Henrique scored the 100th goal of his NHL career just shy of four minutes into the game. Tampa tried to push back, but the Devils wouldn't have it, stayed on the attack and got another one late in the period. We'll stamp that one "Hynes Approved."
2) The defense deserves more credit. At first glance, their stat lines aren't flashy, but take a closer look and you'll see why they should get high-fives all around. Andy Greene had three blocked shots. Ben Lovejoy played 6:10 of 8 total minutes on the penalty kill. Damon Severson had three shots, a goal and an assist. You may not always notice the little things they do to be effective, but that doesn't make them any less significant.
3) Stats don't tell the whole story. The Devils had three shots in the third period compared to the Lightning's 10 and were outshot 33-23. Logic would say that they took their foot off the gas and gave Tampa the opportunity to get back into this game, but that's not what happened. Unlike last night, where Chicago maintained puck possession for the better part of the third period as they tried to get the equalizer, the Devils did a much better job pushing for the next goal rather than simply defending the lead. The lopsided shots are simply an indication of accuracy, not possession.
The Devils have the day off tomorrow (might be a good idea to keep your eyes glued to social media for Halloween party pictures) and will be back on the ice for practice on Monday before leaving for a three-game road trip on Tuesday.