Martin Brodeur returned to the crease for the New Jersey Devils last night, but his presence was not enough to lift the Devils out of their most recent funk as they fell to the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Brodeur was decent in his first game back from the elbow injury that kept him sidelined for eight games. He made 26 saves, but you could tell that Brodeur was not happy with the outcome of the game from his post-game comments.
“It’s more of the same for us,” Brodeur said. “We had some good chances, but couldn’t bury the puck and got a bad call from Toronto. We just have to deal with it.”
The bad call from Toronto that Brodeur referenced came when it appeared that David Clarkson had scored the game-tying goal for the Devils late in the third period. Clarkson corralled the puck in front of the net off a rebound, getting only a piece of the puck on his shot attempt. As the puck was bouncing in the crease, Clarkson’s momentum carried him toward the goal and his left skate made contact with the puck. Referee Brad Watson initially ruled no goal, but the play was reviewed. After the league brass in Toronto took a look at the crucial play, they sided with Watson’s judgement and upheld the ruling of no goal. Clarkson did not deny that the puck hit his skate, but was unsure what defines a ‘distinct kicking motion.’
“I guess he [Watson] felt it went off my skate, which it did,” Clarkson said. “I thought it had to be an intentional kicking motion.”
Regardless of the decision on what would have been the tying goal, the Devils are still putting themselves in position where they have to come from behind to try and salvage any points they can. Erik Karlsson opened the scoring for the Senators in the first period on a point shot that found its way through a host of bodies in front of Brodeur.
Elias tied the game at one with a power-play goal in the second period. I think I can speak for Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire when I say that this was a shot that he would like to have back. Elias’ wrist-shot was misplayed by the glove-hand of Leclaire, and the puck bounced in the crease behind him and over the goal line. Ottawa scored twice in the second to make it 3-1, getting markers from Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu in just over a two minute span. Brodeur was out of position on when Michalek found a loose puck in front of the net and sent a back-hander into the top corner of the net. Ruutu capped off a feisty shift by banking a shot in off Brodeur at the side of the net to give the Sens a two goal advantage.
The Devils responded quickly, as the power-play was successful once again when Travis Zajac found Dainius Zubrus in the slot for a one-timer that beat Leclaire. Ilya Kovalchuk assisted on both Devils goals and nearly potted one of his own, only to see his shot ring off the crossbar. Henrik Tallinder also heard the sound of the iron as his point shot in the third period beat Leclaire but hit the post. Jason Arnott had the best chance to tie the game in the third period as the puck fell to him at the right side of the crease. Leclaire sprawled out across the crease to take away the lower portion of the net, and Arnott’s attempt was denied as he was not able to elevate the puck.
The Devils had plenty of goal scoring opportunities, but they could not (legally) put their chances in the back of the net. The Devils need to start putting a string of wins together to stay in the playoff hunt, and they need to do it fast. Time is not on their side, and Jason Arnott is aware.
“It’s not looking good. We’re getting further and further away from that number 8 spot,” Arnott said. “It’s getting nearly impossible. If we don’t put a string of wins together by Christmas time, we’re going to find ourselves on a long road.”
The Devils can attempt to get back on the winning track in impressive fashion at home tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a tall task as the Red Wings are immensely talented and coming off a victory against the Montreal Canadiens, but it’s the type of win that would do wonders for the confidence of a team that is severely lacking in that department.
About the Author
Written by Matt Pellicane
I am currently pursuing a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. I graduated from Quinnipiac in May 2010 with a bachelor's degree in print journalism. While at Quinnipiac, I covered various sporting events on campus for the online newspaper The Quad News. I was born and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey and have been an avid sports fan all of my life. I am a fan of the New Jersey Devils, New York Giants, New York Yankees, and the Boston Celtics.