Predators 3, Devils 1
|Brodeur robbed Nashville's Colin Wilson with just over six minutes to go in the second period.
Scoring chances came at a premium for the Devils on Friday. When opportunity did present itself, they couldn’t take advantage in a 3-1 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators.
The Devils mustered a season-low 16 shots on goal, missing the net 13 times and hitting two posts.
Nashville built a 3-0 goal lead on two power-play goals from Martin Erat and a tally from ex-Devil Steve Sullivan.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Ilya Kovalchuk
, who hit the right iron off a rush late in the second period. “That kind of effort after last game. I don’t know what happened. We can’t play like that, especially in our home building. The fans expect a lot from us, and we have to give 100, 110 percent, not the effort like we did tonight.”
had the lone goal for the Devils, who faltered after Wednesday’s shutout win over Phoenix and lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Anders Lindback needed to make only 15 saves for the Predators (17-8-6), who have won five straight and eight of nine.
"We didn’t put the puck at the net enough tonight," head coach John MacLean said. "I think we directed more than that. We missed the net a lot tonight. We had some good opportunities that we missed the net on. It makes it tough."
I don’t know what happened. We can’t play like that, especially in our home building. The fans expect a lot from us, and we have to give 100, 110 percent, not the effort like we did tonight. - Ilya Kovalchuk
The Devils (9-20-2) head to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Saturday night. MacLean's group will look to capitalize offensively against one of the highest scoring clubs in the East.
Meanwhile, Nashville topped New Jersey in regulation for the first time since 2004.
"They battled," MacLean said. "They’re a good hockey club. If we hit the net more, there would be more rebounds, too. At times, we missed the net wide. We put a couple over the net. We hit the glass a little bit too much."
Sullivan’s redirection with 16.3 seconds remaining in the first period was the first dagger. Moments earlier, Rod Pelley
had collected a pass from David Clarkson
for a shot off the post with 1:25 to go.
But it was Nashville that took a 1-0 lead as the clock ticked down. Anssi Salmela
wrapped a bouncing puck around the left boards and over Kovalchuk’s stick along the wall. Sullivan was stationed in the slot to get a piece of Shea Weber’s floater from the right point.
The puck dribbled behind Martin Brodeur
and snuck inside the right post. Brodeur finished with 17 saves, including a sprawling glove stop on Colin Wilson's backhand try with 6:19 left in the second.
“We played a pretty solid first period,” Brodeur said. “Definitely it was kind of tough to allow a goal in the last couple of seconds like that. I think we probably deserved better with the way we played, not that we had anything offensively, but we didn’t give up much either. Definitely a little tough break there off the tip.”
Instead of a scoreless tie after 20 minutes, the Devils were behind the eight ball.
“It seems like if we give up one or two goals, we stop playing, but it can’t be like that,” Kovalchuk said.
Erat’s first of the night put Nashville ahead by a pair in the second. The Devils’ PK entered the game a perfect 19-for-19 over their previous five games. Erat ended that streak at 4:56, when he placed a wrist shot from the right circle over Brodeur’s catching glove.
Once again, the Devils returned fire, only to be denied by the post.
With 2:25 left in the middle frame, Kovalchuk intercepted an Erat pass and carried the puck 2-on-2 with Jason Arnott
. Kovalchuk drove to the right circle, releasing a quick shot that clanged off the bar.
“Yeah. That was the closest I was,” Kovalchuk said. “We got a couple of good looks on the power play, but we still can be much better.”
Erat potted his second of the game at the 4:55 mark of the third period. He got a piece of Ryan Suter’s power-play blast from the point to give the visitors a three-goal advantage.
Weber and Suter each had two assists.
“We’re a good offensive team and today we didn’t show much of it,” Brodeur said. “You have to give them credit, they played really tight, they played really hard. Their big two defensemen played an awesome game. They controlled the play back there, Suter and Weber.”
Tedenby broke through on the power play in the third, snapping a wrist shot past Lindback from the right circle at 7:06. The Devils’ power play has connected in six straight games (8-for-23).
Tedenby's goal was the only shot New Jersey registered on its three chances with the man advantage.
's interference minor left the Devils shorthanded to finish out the final 1:15 of regulation. The captain was whistled for moving Lindback's stick out of the way after the goaltender had dropped it near the crease.
"I didn’t even realize it was the goalie’s stick," Langenbrunner said. "It’s sitting right in the crease, so I just pushed it away and that’s what he called."
Arnott frustrated in loss to former team
was acquired this summer from Nashville, where he'd spent the previous four seasons, including three as captain.
His first meeting with his former club was anything but memorable for the home team.
"It’s frustrating," he said. "Every game means so much. We’re just getting deeper and deeper into a hole right now. The confidence just isn’t there. You can’t just pinpoint it. We play one good game and we try and build off of it. We get down by a goal and things just don’t go right. It’s tough to come back from."
The Devils managed just nine shots through the first 40 minutes. Arnott felt as though they passed up open looks at the net.
"I think we just didn’t create enough shots," he said. "They play a solid system game. That’s the way they play. We just didn’t battle through it and create shots. We had shots, we just didn’t take them."
Arnott had high praise for Nashville's standout defensemen, Weber and Suter.
"When you have two guys back there like that it makes the game a lot easier," he said. "Two world-class defensemen. Young guys that play like that, every team wants guys like that. Can’t say enough about them. They both come to play every night. Great guys and great leaders as well, especially at a young age."
The Devils’ last regulation loss to Nashville came way back on Jan. 3, 2004, span of six meetings.
|Three star selections