NEWARK, NJ - The Devils rushed out to a 4-0 lead and the Prudential Center was rocking. However, Winnipeg mounted a comeback and tied the game at 4-4 in the third period and sent things to overtime and, eventually, a shootout. Blake Wheeler scored the winner in the skills competition to complete the Winnipeg rally.
"There's no excuse," said Blake Coleman, who had two goals. "It's a game that stings, but it's our own mistakes and something we can easily correct and I'm sure we will. Thankfully, we have a game tomorrow so we don't have to dwell on it."
Newcomer P.K. Subban got the Devils crowd going with a monster hit on Kyle Connor two minutes into the game. Later in the first period, Subban laid out to stop a pass on a 2-on-1 rush and the crowd chanted his name in appreciation.
Nikita Gusev gave the Devils a 1-0 lead, depositing a feed from Jesper Bratt at 18:00 of the opening frame. The goal was the first of the Russian winger's career. Gusev came to the Devils via trade and signing in the summer.
The Devils hit the road to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET. You can watch that game on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network.
Coleman made it 2-0 devils when he picked up and buried a loose puck in the slot at 1:42 of the second frame. Wayne Simmonds and Travis Zajac each recorded an assist.
Sam Vatanen hammered a shot in the net at 12:34 of the second to put the home team up 3-0. He was assisted by Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall.
Coleman, returning to the ice after a facial injury, scored an unreal goal to give the Devils a 4-0 lead at 13:52 of the second. Coleman battled a Jets player down the ice and as he was falling, the forward flipped the puck past the goaltender. This is one that will make several highlight reels. Subban and Pavel Zacha recorded the helpers.
"I just try to get pucks to the net however I can. Sometimes they're circusy. It's about contributing and trying to do your part for the team," Coleman said.
Things looked to be getting out of hand, until Dmitry Kulikov got the visitors on the board at 19:49 of the second period.
Winnipeg cut the Devils lead down to two at 2:41 of the third, courtesy of Jack Roslovic.
Cory Schneider had to leave the game with an injury, after playing the first 42:41, and was replaced by Mackenzie Blackwood.
The Jets comeback bid continued at 7:17 of the final frame when Mathieu Perreault capitalized on a turnover in the Devils zone and potted the visitors' third goal of the night.
Everything began going in Winnipeg's favor as Neal Pionk buried the equalizer past Blackwood at 12:35 of the final period of regulation.
"We weren't playing the way we wanted to throughout the game," said Taylor Hall. "Whether the score was 0-0 or 4-0, we had moments but we weren't dictating play. That's what happens sometimes. One goes in, two go in and then you're not making the plays that you want to."
Miles Wood nearly put the Devils back on top in the final four minutes of play but the puck just couldn't cross the line. The shot left the crowd wondering, "how the heck did that not go in?"
Chances were traded in the final minutes but the game would eventually be decided after regulation.
A wildly entertaining overtime frame ended with no goal and no decision. Gusev scored first for the Devils in the shootout. Connor responded for Winnipeg.
Jack Hughes was stopped on his try for New Jersey. Then Blackwood rose to the occasion with a save on Patrik Laine.
In the third round, Taylor Hall was denied for the Devils. And then Mark Scheifele was stopped at the other end.
Kyle Palmieri was stopped to start the next round, while Blake Wheeler potted the winner.