New Jersey played well for two periods, but the worst period of hockey they played all season cost the Devils two points as they fell to the Washington Capitals 4-3 Sunday afternoon.
New Jersey celebrated the 1,000 game of Travis Zajac’s career today and started the game feeding off the energy from the celebration. The Devils were all over the Capitals to start the game and were rewarded at the 9:35 mark of the first period. New Jersey, on the power play, had a nice set up as Kyle Pamieri found Andreas Johnsson to the left of goalie Craig Anderson and slotted a shot past him to give the Devils an early 1-0 lead.
As the period continued, the Capitals began to get some chances, but backup goalie Aaron Dell, who was making his first appearance as a New Jersey Devil, was able to prevent Washington from getting on the board.
In the second period, the Capitals began to show their strength, as the first three minutes consisted of a flurry of Washington shots. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin came inches away from scoring 3:20 in when he beat Dell to the right, but the post kept Ovechkin off the board.
New Jersey quickly regained control though, as only 35 second later, Johnsson found Jack Hughes cutting towards net who directed the puck past Anderson to give New Jersey a 2-0 lead.
The goal gave New Jersey a bit of momentum, but Washington had too much quality to stay down for long. Washington drew a New Jersey penalty and went to work on the league’s worst penalty kill. John Carlson took a shot that T.J Oshie was able to redirect past Dell to cut the Devils lead to 2-1. It would stay that way the rest of the period, as the Capitals would look to pounce.
The third period was an absolute nightmare for New Jersey. The puck was exclusively in the New Jersey zone for much of the period which put extreme pressure on Dell. 9:16 into the third, the Capitals evened it up. Carlson sent a rocket past Dell to get Washington even and started the onslaught for the Capitals.
Less than a minute later, Palmieri took a penalty which sent the maligned penalty kill unit back out on the ice and Washignton capitalized. Yoshie sent a shot from the point that got past Dell to make it 3-2 at the 11:53 mark of the third.
The Capitals weren’t done taking advantage of the Devils penalty kill unit yet, as a Ryan Murray penalty taken at the 3:11 mark resulted in an Ovechkin goal only four second later. Off the faceoff, Yoshie found Ovechkin wide open at the side of the net as Ovechkin easily shot the puck into the net as Dell was nowhere near the puck which gave the Capitals a 4-2 lead.
New Jersey got one back with 12 second left, as with the extra attacker Nikita Gusev was able to score his first goal of the season, but it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of this game as New Jersey fell 4-3.
New Jersey has one day off before they take on the Buffalo Sabers on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. EST.