In accordance with the prophecies, there was extra time.
The New Jersey Devils are at a nerve-wracking part of the season, desperately needing points to claw back into playoff position, buoyed by a bushel of overtime victories that help tie-breakers, but haunted by an 0-9 shootout record (with just one converted attempt) coming into this game.
Tonight that breakaway drill nightmare continued for the Devils, who lost in another shootout after matching the New York Islanders 1-1 through 65 minutes. The Devils missed on both attempts while the Islanders converted both of theirs (Frans Nielsen with his new speed backhand move, Brock Nelson with a slick five-hole backhand) to give the Isles the victory via shootout.
At least this one didn't go 13 rounds, like the Isles' last game in Tampa went. Rather, the shootout ended as mercifully quickly as possible.
Unsurprisingly, it was a carefully played, not very inventive game. The Isles outshot the Devils 9-2 in the first period, while New Jersey outshot them 7-3 in the conservative third. The Islanders' lone regulation goal was credited to Frans Nielsen and his good pressure but ultimately was a Devils own goal.
But the fans had fun, overtime featured at least the appearance of shots, and this metro rivalry added a chapter with some impact on the playoff race.
- Wounded demons: John Merrill took a Travis Hamonic shot in the face in the third period. Much blood. Separately, looked like Stephen Gionta left the game hurt as well.
- Timeout etc.: Jack Capuano called a timeout, which is cause for celebration in some circles. It came after the Isles struggled in their own zone and iced it, which of course meant they couldn't change personnel like Matt Carkner and Matt Donovan. Crisis averted.
- We can all get along: The traditional warring chants of "Let's Go Islanders -- Let's Go Devils" eventually merged into one at the organist's prompting, for if you know the Rangers suck clap your hands.
- That's better: Big game for Anders Nilsson, even though 24 shots is roughly the minimum test in the NHL. Still, conceding just one real goal through 65 minutes is a big step for him, as he'd managed that only once in his 12 other full games this season. His two shootout saves were nice too.
The Isles are back at it Tuesday at home to the Panthers, another lottery land lovefest.