Things have been tough and challenging for the New Jersey Devils the last couple weeks or so. However, this week the Devils had their best week in a while. They picked up three wins as they faced off against the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins for three straight games (twice at home, once on the road). Each game was decided by one or two goals and were really close. Let’s take a look back at the week that was:
Devils down the Sabres 3-2 (3/16/21)
The game opened up with the Devils wearing their popular reverse retro jerseys and played a very solid first period. Late in the first period, Yegor Sharangovich would rip a shot from the slot to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Buffalo would take the lead with back to back goals as Tobias Rieder and Jeff Skinner would score for the Sabres. Moments later at the 10:39 mark, Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen would release a shot the would get behind the screened goaltender to tie the game 2-2.
Early on in the third period, Miles Wood would score his ninth goal of the season and the game winner to give the Devils a victory by a final score of 3-2. MacKenzie Blackwood played very solid in net for New Jersey making 35 saves and is starting to regain his form.
First of 3 versus the Pens (3/18/21)
This game began a three game set against the Penguins and the first of two at the Prudential Center. Jack Hughes would get the Devils on the board first in period one as he found enough space upstairs to beat Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry short side. Hughes’ goal would stand all the way through the end of period one.
PK Subban would blast a one timer from the point on the power play to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt would get the assists on the play. Moments later, Travis Zajac would deflect a shot from Damon Severson to make the score 3-0. Late in the second period. Jake Guentzel got the Penguins on the board as he tipped in a shot from Kris Letang to get the score within two.
Despite a late third period goal by Bryan Rust, it would be too late for a comeback and the New Jersey Devils would hang on to win by a final score of 3-2 yet again.
Penguins win the rematch (3/20/21)
While the New Jersey Devils got off to a good start getting a goal in the first period from Kyle Palmieri, they weren’t able to keep up the good play like they did against the Penguins the previous night. Zach Aston-Reese and Bryan Rust gave the Penguins the lead in the second period.
Jake Guentzel sealed the victory for the Penguins at the 14:25 mark of the third period as he tipped in a shot from Sidney Crosby scoring his thirteenth goal of the season. The Penguins defeated the Devils by a final score of 3-1.
Overtime victory in Pittsburgh (3/21/21)
This game was a very close game between the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins as there were only two goals throughout regulation. Pens captain Sidney Crosby scored his twelfth of the season in the first and only goal of the first period. Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen evened the scored in the second period as he blasted a one timer behind goalie Tristan Jarry.
After a very close game in regulation, this game would require overtime. Jesper Bratt would be the overtime hero for the Devils as he took a pass from Pavel Zacha and wrapped the puck around the net and put it in to give the Devils an overtime victory by a final score of 2-1.
How they doin’? My thoughts on the week:
This was a much better week in comparison to the last 2-3 weeks. New Jersey played a much better all around game this week. Team defense was better and special teams improved as well. They beat a team that should be beatable in the awful Buffalo Sabres and then a playoff caliber team in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Each game this week was close as they were decided by one or two goals. Instead of folding up and blowing games, the Devils found ways this week to win and handled adversity well. This was a good week for the Devils for sure and should enjoy it. However, next week will be tough as they face off on the road against teams with playoff aspirations in the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals (who’ve won every matchup this season), and the Boston Bruins. Can the Devils play spoilers? We’ll have to wait and see.
3/23/21: New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers
3/25/21 & 3/26/21: New Jersey Devils @ Washington Capitals
3/28/21: New Jersey Devils @ Boston Bruins