Devils trade goals back and forth with Nashville but ultimately fall 6-5 in the shootout in a high-scoring affair
NEWARK, NJ - It was a wild offensive display that saw the Devils rally from two deficits but then give up three leads of their own before ultimately falling in a shootout to the Nashville Predators and former head coach John Hynes.
Nikita Gusev scored in the shootout for the Devils but Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene tallied for the Predators to clinch the outcome.
The Devils celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 2000 Stanley Cup on Saturday when the Dallas Stars are in town. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET.
With Hynes going up against his former team, the game had an interesting feel to it right from the start.
"It's a unique situation and we wanted to play hard and win for Nas. And I'm sure they wanted to play hard and get the win for Hynesy too. It was an emotional game and a fun atmosphere out there, too," said Devils captain Andy Greene.
"I was looking forward to it all day, what I would feel like when I saw him on the other bench," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. "At the anthem we looked at each other and that was it. You then have to focus and help your team win."
Only 42 seconds into the game, Nashville's Mattias Ekholm blasted a shot from the point that beat Devils starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.
Two minutes later, Colton Sissons got a stick up, resulting in the Devils receiving the first power play of the game but Damon Severson was called for tripping, negating the final 36 seconds of the Devils man advantage.
Two seconds after Sissons stepped out of the box, the Devils scored what was technically a shorthanded goal. Pavel Zacha roofed a shot under the crossbar for his first of two goals on the night after a fine stickhandling display to knot the game up.
"I felt good before the game. The first goal, Nico won a great battle along the wall," Zacha stated. "I think he saw me because I saw him looking up and he had the puck on his stick and made a perfect pass."
Nashville regained the lead near the midway point of the first. On the rush, Filip Forsberg picked up the puck after it went off the skate of Kyle Turris in front and quickly fired it in for the goal.
After one, shots on goal were even at 8-8.
Seven minutes into the second, Ryan Johansen was called for high-sticking, putting the Devils on the man advantage and they connected to tie the game.
Zacha's shot from the point found its way by a screened Pekka Rinne after going off the stick of Dante Fabbro to tie the game at 2-2 with 14 seconds left in the Johansen penalty.
Devils scored on the power play again 1:40 later. Matt Duchene was in the box after taking a penalty 9:59 into the second and 35 seconds into the man advantage, Nikita Gusev wired the puck from a wide angle and it found its way in to give the Devils their first lead of the night.
"The power play's pretty simple," said Nasreddine, noting the success of the power play tonight with a pair of goals. "You have to recover pucks when you don't have possession and you need a shooter mentality. You look at the addition of (Wood) for every goal, he's been in the blue paint and that's a reason why that unit has been successful lately."
Nick Bonino roofed a rebound past Blackwood after a missed shot went off the end boards, tying the game once again 3-3 later in the period.
With just over two minutes to go in the second, Kyle Palmieri from behind the net spotted Jesper Bratt in front who quickly tapped it past Rinne to put the Devils back in the lead.
Shots on goal in the second period were 14-6 for the Devils as they scored three times to take command of the game.
Thirty-three seconds into the third, Matt Duchene's shot beat Blackwood short side to tie the game once again but Devils responded.
Kevin Rooney won the draw back to John Hayden, who flicked a wrist shot from the left circle past Rinne to put the Devils back in front 5-4.
With Wayne Simmonds in the box, the Predators tied the game with 10:03 to play in the third. Thirty-seven seconds into the man advantage, Forsberg ripped a shot from the right circle high on Blackwood to make it a 5-5 game.
At the end of regulation, shots were 29-23 for the Devils but the Predators outshot the Devils 6-3 in overtime.
"A couple of goals off our sticks, it didn't feel like a 6-5 game," Nasreddine said. "With the chances and bounces, the pucks were going in. That happens and its unfortunate we came out on the wrong side."