Devils’ Back-To-Back Woes Continue With a Loss to Anaheim

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night, the New Jersey Devils dropped the second game of a back-to-back yet again, this time a 5-1 home loss to the Anaheim Ducks. New Jersey fell to 16-12-1 while the Ducks snapped their losing skid, improving to 11-19-0.

Game Recap

Period One

The Devils came out flying in the first period, and early pressure forced Anaheim goalie John Gibson to make some stellar saves. Things got chippy at 5:58 when Kevin Bahl was called for a cross-checking minor against Max Jones. Jones headed down the tunnel but returned shortly after. Bahl went right back to the box at 8:08 after answering the bell in a fight with Ross Johnston.

The period ended 0-0, despite 14 shots on net by the Devils and only four for Anaheim.

Period Two

The Ducks struck first with a power play goal from former Devil Adam Henrique at 1:48 of the second period. Pavel Mintyukov and Alex Killorn collected assists on the tip-in.

Henrique cashed in again at 11:17, burying a net-front rebound for his second goal of the night. Mintyukov added another primary assist and Troy Terry got on the board.

Despite a much slower second, the Devils solved Gibson with a late tally.

Michael McLeod tapped the puck into the mostly open net at 19:16, thanks to a nifty backhand dish from Curtis Lazar. Nathan Bastian also tallied an assist to help the Devils pull within one before heading to the intermission.

Period Three

Netminder Lukas Dostal led the Ducks out for the third period after Gibson couldn’t continue due to illness. Regardless of the change in net, the Devils were flat out of the gate and couldn’t produce any sustained pressure.

The Ducks would add three more in the third, extinguishing any hope for another Devils comeback victory.

At 4:14, Jackson LaCombe found Killorn standing wide open in front of Devils goalie Akira Schmid for a score into the yawning cage. Cam Fowler contributed with a secondary assist.

Troy Terry then converted a few minutes later, at 9:57, with a snipe assisted by Killorn and Fowler.

Faced with a power play opportunity, the Devils’ head coach, Lindy Ruff, pulled Schmid with over six minutes remaining in the period to gain a two-man advantage.

However, Henrique scored into the empty net at 14:12, for his third goal of the game and his first career hat trick, a sight that was undoubtedly bittersweet for Devils fans everywhere. The goal was unassisted.

The Devils lost 5-1, outshooting the Ducks 29-28.

Back to Backbreakers

New Jersey has a league-leading 16 sets of back-to-back games this season. Through their first seven sets, they have a record of 1-5-1, having lost to the Arizona Coyotes (shootout loss), Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, and now the Anaheim Ducks. The only win was a 7-2 blowout against the Buffalo Sabres.

There is no denying that a schedule featuring so many games on consecutive nights is a taxing demand. However, with nine more back-to-backs remaining, the Devils can’t afford to allow this trend to fester more than it already has. The Metropolitan division is locked in a tight battle for postseason positions and two or three wins is currently the difference between sitting second in the division versus completely out of the playoffs.

The good news for the Devils is that there is a lot of hockey left to play and they are a young, highly skilled team that is more than capable of turning the tide. They are 8-3 in their last chunk of games, which is overall quite good. There have also been major improvements in their defensive zone play, an encouraging sign for the future. With a three-game home stand before the holiday break, the Devils have the opportunity to get back on track ahead of their next back-to-back on December 29 and 30.

Up Next

New Jersey will look to bounce back on Tuesday when they face their divisional rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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