Three second-period goals, including two just over a minute apart, was the difference as the Devils dropped a 4-0 decision in Edmonton
For the second straight night in Alberta, a tough New Jersey Devils second period was the difference in the game as the Edmonton Oilers scored a trio of goals in the middle frame on their way to a 4-0 victory on Friday night.
The loss moves the Devils record to 2-2-0 on their five-game road trip with the finale this Sunday afternoon in Vancouver.
The Devils wrap up their road trip on Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 4:08 p.m. ET.
"I thought it was more a 50/50 game than the scoreboard said it was," said Devils head coach John Hynes. "When they had opportunities they put the puck in the net and we had some real good looks and opportunities but the puck didn't get in the net."
After a scoreless first period, Leon Draisaitl took a feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and skated in all alone, making no mistake with a low wrist shot past Devils starting goaltender Cory Schneider to open the scoring only 1:55 into the middle frame.
Past the midway point of the second, the teams traded power plays with both being killed off but 30 seconds after P.K. Subban's slashing minor expired, Gaetan Haas scored to double the Oilers lead.
Matt Benning's blast from the right point was tipped on its way to the net by Haas before trickling under the pad of Schneider.
Just over a minute later, the Oilers scored again to make it a three-goal affair. James Neal backhanded the puck in from the side of the net after pouncing on a rebound.
"I thought we played pretty well at that point. We kept them at bay, they had good luck with the Draisaitl breakaway. We did well not letting their top guys be too threatening but those two goals were the difference in the game," noted Schneider.
Devils captain Andy Greene agreed with the sentiment of Schneider and Hynes that the team deserved a better fate.
"We had a lot of quality chances and opportunities. We didn't cash in and they did. I thought we played a pretty solid game tonight but couldn't find a way to get that first one," said Greene.
After two periods, shots on goal were 21-19 for Edmonton.
With Blake Coleman in the box for cross-checking, the Oilers extended their lead to 4-0 when Alex Chiason tipped a Nugent-Hopkins wrist shot from the top of the right circle past Schneider for the power play marker.
The Devils had some great chances early on in the game. Six minutes in, Nico Hischier created a turnover in the Oilers zone and drove the net. His deke attempt was denied by Mikko Koskinen. The puck did find its way into the net but only after the whistle.
"It's such a fast play. It's a tough call. You'd like to get that call a few times intead of the opposite," said Greene.
With eight minutes to go in the first, Taylor Hall broke in alone and wired a shot off the post behind the Oilers netminder. Shots on goal after the first were 8-5 for New Jersey.
"You're here to win games and when you play well enough to have a chance, it's tough," Hall began. "But we lost by four. Maybe it wasn't that close, maybe it just felt like it but I thought we played much better tonight."
Sami Vatanen was injured midway through the first period, causing the Devils to have to rotate five defensement the rest of the way.
"I thought we did a good job," Greene said of the defensemen managing their play without Vatanen. "They got some deflection and rebound goals there but I thought we did a pretty good job back there. I thought we deserved better in the second but that's on us. We need to continue to improve and get better."
Schneider shared Greene's sentiment.
"A couple of their goals were tips or breakdowns like that, but it's not like they were major breakdowns over and over again. Losing Sami doesn't help on a back-to-back but they stepped up and played a lot of minutes."
Coach Hynes said after the game that there was no update on the status of Vatanen's injury. He added that he was happy with how the remaining five defensemen played.
"I thought the D-core did a great job and managed it really well. The five D that were there really stepped up and played well. I thought the team managed it well. We didn't have to defend for long periods of time and that's something you need to have when there's five D."