On the brink.
The New Jersey Devils are on the brink of elimination from their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning after a 3-1 loss in Game 4 on Wednesday night. The Lightning scored twice in the first period and added an empty net goal in the third, taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Here are 10 takeaways from Game 4:
1. Cory Schneider started his second consecutive game in net. Coach John Hynes decided to stick with the same lineup that earned a Game 3 victory on Monday. Schneider started consecutive games for the first time since Jan 22-23.
In Game 4, Schneider stopped 32 of 34 shots in the loss.
2. The Devils opened the scoring tonight for the first time in the series. Kyle Palmieri lit the lamp at 8:23 of the first period, which also was his first goal of the postseason. The tally came off of a 5-on-3 power play and was assisted by Will Butcher and Taylor Hall.
3. Whether it's the regular or postseason, Taylor Hall continues to put points on the board. In Game 4 he played 19:01 and registered an assist on the Devils opening goal. Hall has points in each of the four games played so far this series and leads the Devils with six points (3g-3a). Hall is making his first-career playoff series a good one.
4. The Devils went down to five defensemen with 3:53 remaining in the first period when Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov landed a big body check on Sami Vatanen. Vatanen was slow to recover and eventually skated to the bench and down the tunnel to the Devils locker room, accompanied by team athletic trainer Kevin Morley. Vatanen did not return to the game, his night ended after just 6:46 of ice time (all in the first period).
5. With Vatanen out of the lineup for the majority of the game, New Jersey's remaining defensemen were forced to have busier nights than usual. Will Butcher led the way in ice time, playing 21:32, and was followed by Andy Greene (21:14 TOI).
6. The first period tonight quickly became a very physical and feisty affair. Seven penalties were distributed between the two teams. The Devils went 1-for-3 on their power play in the first while the Lightning went 0-for-2. Damon Severson led the Devils after 20 minutes with three of the Devils 13 shots on net. After 20 minutes of play, New Jersey trailed 2-1.
7. The Devils offense struggled in the second period, firing just five shots at the Tampa net.
8. In a penalty filled contest, the Devils had multiple opportunities on the power play but only capitalized on their 5-on-3 opportunity in the first period. The Devils were 1-for-6 on the power play, while their penalty killers went 5-for-5.
9. The Devils threw 26 shots at Tampa netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. Damon Severson led the way with five shots, followed by Blake Coleman's four SOG.
10. The first-round series shifts back to Tampa Bay, where the Lightning host the Devils on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.