Devils rally to take the lead but ultimately fall 4-3 in overtime to their division rivals
NEWARK, NJ - The Devils deserved a better fate, coming from behind to take the lead before allowing a goal late in the third period followed by one with 51 seconds left in overtime in a 4-3 OT loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
In overtime, Anders Lee rifled a shot past Mackenzie Blackwood from the high slot to end the game.
Both teams had great chances in the three-on-three overtime.
"It's exciting, it's nervewracking. It's why they went to three-on-three format," said Blake Coleman. "We had a few chances but unfortunately didn't bury ours. They buried theirs."
Islanders got on the board first almost four minutes into the game. Leo Komarov took the puck in behind the Devils net and out in front to Matt Martin. His shot was denied by Blackwood but Casey Cizikas was in front to backhand home the rebound.
Blackwood made a big stop as a shot from Mathew Barzal went off his mask, a common theme throughout the night.
With 11:23 to go in the first, P.K. Subban blasted a shot from the top of the right circle past Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss to get things on even terms.
One hundred seconds later, the Islanders tied things up. Taking advantage of a Damon Severson giveaway in the slot, Jordan Eberle intercepted the feed and quickly fired it past Blackwood.
After one, shots on goal were 10-9 for the Islanders.
"I really liked our work ethic for the majority of the game," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine afterwards. "I just felt we worked hard but not necessarily smart. Puck decisions that weren't good on our part. Puck decisions gave them easy offense. That's not something you want to do against a team that's stingy defensively."
Coleman agreed with his coach.
"I thought everyone played pretty hard and we had a lot of looks but maybe gave up a few too many defensively," Coleman stated. "It's something we'll correct right away and move forward."
Islanders carried the play for a lot of the period, outshooting the Devils 9-2 eight minutes in and ultimately 18-12 when all was said and done through 40 minutes. The toughest shot for Blackwood came in the final minute of the period as a blast by Ryan Pulock off his cage resulted in a bloody mouth but he stayed in the game.
"He's fighting a bit of illness and missing some teeth and comes up with a massive save at the end of the second period," Coleman said of Blackwood. "He's our glue right now and giving us a chance to win every night."
Despite being outshot, it was the Devils who scored the period's only goal. Nico Hischier circled the zone, lost the puck for a moment but recovered just enough to backhand the puck past Greiss to knot the game up at 2-2 with 1:36 to go in the period.
Islanders opened the third period with the first six shots on goal through the first seven minutes of the game.
With 8:44 to go in the third, Coleman snuck in behind the Islanders defense and was denied by Greiss.
Devils strong play continued through the latter half of the period. The only penalty of the entire game came with just over eight minutes to play and it was on the Isles. Greiss was called for hooking Nikita Gusev as the Devils forward raced behind the net.
Nineteen seconds into the man advantage, Kyle Palmieri one-timed a blast from the right circle to put the Devils in front. Nico Hischier and Damon Severson got the assists.
Tom Kuhnhackl wired a blast from the point that beat a screened Blackwood to tie the game up only 2:19 later, however.
"Our game management wasn't at its best. You take a 3-2 lead and look at the tying goal, the mistakes we made. You just have to be better when you have the lead," noted Nasreddine.
"Guys worked. We skated. We just have to be smarter."
Shots on goal in the third period ended up 13-10 for the Devils; 39-33 Islanders in the game overall through regulation.