Devils’ Playoff Hopes Take Another Blow with 5-1 Loss vs. Los Angeles Kings | 03/03/2024

Timo Meier and Drew Doughty race for puck

The New Jersey Devils fell 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. The same trends that have hindered the Devils all season were on full display as they gave up another important two points in the playoff standings. With the loss, New Jersey fell to 30-27-4, while the Kings improved to 31-19-10.

Game Recap

Period One

The Devils got the early jump in the period and found the first goal of the game, which has eluded them all season. Timo Meier was the beneficiary of a bounce on a failed pass and buried it behind Cam Talbot at 0:15. Nico Hischier collected the only assist.

At 7:56, the Kings tied the game when Phillip Danault came off the bench behind the Devils’ defense and beat Nico Daws on a breakaway. Kevin Fiala and Vladislav Gavrikov added the assists.

Then, at 14:49, Alex Laferriere scored from the top of the circle to give the Kings a 2-1 lead with a shot that Daws likely wants back. Pierre-Luc Dubois had the only assist.

The Devils outshot L.A. 11-7 but trailed 2-1 after the first frame.

Period Two

The Devils, though they generated some zone time, had trouble getting shots through to Talbot, with only one on net in the first six minutes of play.

At 12:23, the Kings extended their lead after the Devils failed to clear the puck from their net front. New Jersey recovered to eliminate a breakaway chance, but nobody could get a stick on the rebound before Danault tallied his second goal of the night. Matt Roy and Trevor Moore collected the assists.

Following the goal, the Devils were immediately called for a trip, and on the ensuing Kings powerplay, Fiala scored to make it 4-1 at 12:57. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty had the assists.

Daws was pulled for the second consecutive game after allowing four goals on 13 shots. Akira Schmid took over in net for the Devils.

New Jersey was outshot 9-6 in the period and outscored by two.

Period Three

The Devils generated some more chances in the third but still couldn’t solve Talbot to chip away at the three-goal lead.

With more than five minutes remaining in the period, New Jersey pulled Schmid in favor of the extra attacker.

However, at 17:47, Danault hit the empty net for a hat trick with assists for Moore and Fiala.

The Devils outshot the Kings 31-23 in the 5-1 loss.

Takeaways

Shot Selection

Shot totals within the game were not indicative of the quality of chances. The Devils diverted to the pass on far too many occasions where they should have been shooting. The Kings played a defensively sound game and took away the passing lanes that New Jersey was looking for. However, instead of adapting to the style of play, the Devils tried to force passes that the Kings easily broke up.

Looking at the statistics, of the 45 unblocked attempts and 31 actual shots that the Devils put on Talbot, only one was a high-danger attempt. Furthermore, only two rebound shots made it through to net. The large majority of pressure from the Devils came in the form of shots from the outside that were easily saved or centering passes into traffic that the Kings chipped out of the zone. Instead of looking for the perfect shot, New Jersey needs to establish a shooting mentality, funnel more pucks toward the goal, and work on creating second and third opportunities that hit the net.

Goaltending Decisions

The decision to start Daws in net was a head-scratcher. Coming off hip surgery and six months of recovery, he has faced a heavy workload at the NHL level. Since February 12, he has started all but one game, including seven consecutive and a back-to-back with travel in between. On Friday night in Anaheim, he was pulled after two periods for giving up four goals on 14 shots. Schmid, who came in in relief, saved all nine shots that he faced in the final period. Given his injury situation and the workload that he has faced, the Devils need to have some faith in Schmid and trust him to make saves instead of overplaying Daws until he burns out.

Up Next

The Devils return to the Rock on March 5th when they take on the red-hot Florida Panthers. The Panthers sit atop the league standings with a 41-16-4 record and 86 points.

This is the third and final meeting between the two teams in the regular season. The Panthers took the first contest 4-3 on October 16th, while the Devils won the most recent 4-1 on January 13th.

The Panthers are 9-1-0 in their last ten games but will be in the second half of a back-to-back when they face the Devils, having played the night before against the New York Rangers.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.

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