The New Jersey Devils finished their California trip strong as they played one of their best games of the season in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Fourth Line Rebound
Considering the harsh defeat courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks, along with having to go into the SAP Center, also known as the Shark Tank and one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, The Devils handled themselves with class. They played a solid road game, and even with San Jose scoring early in the first period off a giveaway from Scott Gomez, which was finished by Joe Pavelski, the Devils still came back and scored two goals in the span of 35 seconds to retake the lead.
They took the crowd out of the game, and by the end of the first period had a 17-6 advantage in shots. The Devils had more shots in the first period than they had in the entire matchup against Anaheim.
New Jersey’s fourth line, which consisted of Jordan Tootoo, Tim Sestito, and Jacob Josefson, were dynamite throughout the game. They contributed at the perfect times to give the Devils a much-needed boost with Tootoo scoring the first goal, and Josefson scoring a shorthanded goal late in the third period to put the game out of reach.
Games like these for Josefson are what will keep him in the lineup. It was his first game since December 27th, and his first two-point game of the season.
Jordan Tootoo also had a solid game as he picked up his fourth goal of the season on a goal that fits a fourth line mentality. Tootoo put himself in great position to put home the rebound, after Sestito was originally denied on the wrap-around try.
Tim Sestito, who’s still looking for his first NHL goal had a great game as well with picking up an assist on the Tootoo goal. He also took a nasty hit from Brent Burns, which sent Burns to the box for contact to the head. Sestito looked a bit groggy heading to the bench but came right back out for his next shift a few minutes later.
Converting on their Opportunities
On the ensuing power play, New Jersey was able to capitalize on their opportunity with Cammalleri converting for the game-winning goal. Originally the goal was credited to Steve Bernier which was later changed in the third period; it would have been his second two-goal game of this trip as he scored two against Los Angeles back on Wednesday. Even still, it must have been nice for Bernier to score against the team that drafted him back in the infamous 2003 draft at 16th overall.
Speaking of the Devils making good on their opportunities, the same couldn’t be said with the San Jose Sharks. San Jose went 0-4 on the power play, including giving up the shorthanded goal to Jacob Josefson. It was pretty clear it just wasn’t their night after Brent Burns had a wide open net late in the third period and the puck flipped over his stick as he attempted to shoot.
The main reason for San Jose’s inability to convert is most notably due to the play of Cory Schneider. Schneider for the most part didn’t look very good early on as he allowed 2 goals on the first 10 shots be faced. However after that point, Schneider closed the door while making a couple of highlight reel saves to keep the surging Sharks off the board, and earning the game’s first star.
More specifically, San Jose had 18 shots compared to the Devils five, including three of their four power plays in the third period. The Sharks even had a 12 second five on three, however the Travis Zajac was able to win the faceoff, which resulted in the Devils clearing the zone.
Larsson Looking Strong
Adam Larsson played 23:42 of ice time, registered an assist on Travis Zajac’s 8th goal of the season, and earned the games third star. It was probably one of the best games of his career to be frank. This stretch of games has become sort of a lightening rod for his development as with ex-head coach Pete DeBoer, Larsson couldn’t find his way into the lineup, and even when he did, he barely played. Scott Stevens coming back has obviously sprung his development back in the right direction. He is playing top-pair minutes, and making excellent decision across the ice.
As seemingly inconsistent as the Devils play has been, coming off a performance like this is a bit disheartening. New Jersey will have to wait eight days before play resumes back at the Prudential Center against the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs due to the NHL All-Star weekend.
New Jersey sits 12 points out of a playoff spot at the current moment. They have had many games over the past couple of weeks that could have been a starting point for this team to go on a streak. As unlikely their chances may be to make the playoffs, a complete team effort of this magnitude could be a potential starting point. Every team has bright spots in their season, and with this victory possibly being the brightest in recent weeks, New Jersey will need to capitalize on their remaining opportunities if they want any chance of getting back in the hunt.