Sometimes, you don’t get the breaks. For the most part, the Devils were the better team. However, they couldn’t solve Petr Mrazek, who stopped all 22 shots in 1-0 Red Wings shutout win in Newark. The loss snapped a three-game win streak and prevented the Devils from moving ahead of the idle Rangers for third in the Metro Division.
“I thought it was a good game by both teams. Really like the way we competed. It was a close game between two good teams,” said Devils rookie coach John Hynes in the postgame press conference on MSG-Plus.
“After Dallas, there wasn’t a letdown. We gave a good effort. You have to give credit to Detroit.”
The difference was a well executed play by the Red Wings halfway thru the first period. Talented 19-year old rookie Dylan Larkin converted on a clean breakaway from Brad Richards and Riley Sheahan at 9:20. After a wide Jordin Tootoo shot that caromed off the back boards, Richards caught the Devils defense by making a perfect outlet for an open Larkin who got in behind the D and scored his rookie-leading 14th by deking Cory Schneider and finishing with a backhand tuck for the game’s only goal.
“Larkin’s a heck of a player. He made a great play,” Hynes noted.
Outside of that, the Devils had the better of the play out-shooting the Red Wings 12-9 and out-chancing them. They just couldn’t solve Mrazek who also had help from his defense. Detroit blocked 15 shots. The Devils also missed the net 11 times. This was especially true in the second when they only managed five shots on the Detroit netminder despite having a majority of the puck possession.
“I think you gotta give credit to Mrazek. We had some fantastic chances that didn’t go in,” Hynes added.
Mrazek stoned Kyle Palmieri a couple of times including once from in tight with 13:00 left in the third. Palmieri came in and went to the backhand but Mrazek got just enough of it to push it wide. Speaking of Palmieri, he continues to play well leading New Jersey with five shots while pacing all Devil forwards in ice-time (20:38).
The Devils skated without leading scorer Mike Cammalleri (upper body) for a second straight game. They could’ve used more from Adam Henrique, who was held to one shot. He had two assists in the win over Dallas. However, Henrique has gone cold with no goals in the last 11 games. He has four helpers during that span. Without Cammalleri, the Devils need him to produce.
Hynes had to like what he saw from spark plug Bobby Farnham. He put together a few strong shifts including one where he tested Mrazek during the second. Farnham also protested to refs Chris Lee and Jon McIsaac after not drawing a penalty during a stoppage. The Devils spent extensive time attacking the Wings during that shift but were unable to take advantage.
They also went empty on two power play chances including a critical one with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. That’s where the Red Wings played their best taking away time and space with strong defensive play in the neutral zone.
“We have to have a bit more poise with some of our sets. We have to be a bit more threatening with the puck,” Hynes said.
With the game still there thanks to a couple of key saves from Schneider (20 saves), the Devils were unable to get any sustained pressure. The Red Wings tightened up forcing turnovers. That included a takeaway from Tomas Tatar which forced Schneider to make a difficult stop. Luke Glendening also pushed a rebound wide.
The Wings did just enough to win by a goal, avenging a one-goal loss on home ice on Dec. 22.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Cory Schneider, Devils (stopped 20 of 21 for tough luck defeat)
2nd Star-Dylan Larkin, Wings (GW-rookie best 14th goal at 9:20 of 1st for Calder candidate)
1st Star-Petr Mrazek, Wings (22 saves for 2nd shutout this season-7th career)