Timo Time Strikes in Overtime as Devils Defeat Blue Jackets

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils mounted another late-game comeback at home on Wednesday night, rallying against the Columbus Blue Jackets to earn two big points in their division. Though it wasn’t a pretty win by any means, they found a way to finish the job and gain ground in a tight Metropolitan division race. The Devils improved to 18-13-2, while the Blue Jackets dropped to 11-18-7.

Game Recap

Period One

Despite some early pressure from New Jersey, the Blue Jackets opened the scoring at 6:39 when Jake Bean drove home a rebound off the Devils’ goalie, Vitek Vanecek. Brendan Gaunce and Alexandre Texier assisted on the goal.

Only a few minutes later, at 9:55, Ondrej Palat tied it up following a nifty sequence of passes from Dawson Mercer and Erik Haula. That snapped a nine-game goalless drought for Palat.

The Devils were outshot 9-8 in the period.

Period Two

In a fairly low event period, Justin Danforth tallied the only goal, redirecting a point shot from David Jiricek to give Columbus a 2-1 lead at 8:28. Adam Fantilli tacked on a secondary assist on the play as well. The Devils had ten shots on net but couldn’t beat Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins.

Period Three

The Devils were disconnected to start the third, having to kill off back-to-back penalties. Even after even-strength play resumed, they struggled to generate extended pressure.

However, at 15:51, Simon Nemec found Mercer in the high slot for a massive goal to tie the game at two. In a wild sequence of events, Yegor Chinakhov regained the lead for Columbus at 17:34. He scored five-hole on Vanecek after a whiffed pass from Jonas Siegenthaler caused a partial breakaway.

Just over one minute later, Luke Hughes put the team on his shoulders, scoring a coast-to-coast goal reminiscent of Scott Niedermayer’s from the 1995 Stanley Cup Final. Jack Hughes and Mercer added assists on the game-tying goal.

Overtime

Columbus gained early possession in overtime. Jack Hughes had a takeaway and shot on net that was saved by Merzlikins. The puck went the other way, and Vanecek made a save before Kent Johnson fanned on a second attempt, springing Timo Meier on a breakaway. At 2:12, Meier sent the Prudential Center crowd home happy for one last time in 2023, as he beat Merzlikins five-hole with his fourth goal in the last three games. The Devils outshot the Blue Jackets 35-29 in the overtime victory.

Power Play Comes Up Short

In the first few months of the season, the Devils’ power play was almost automatic. They were able to rely on the man advantage to win them games where their five-on-five play was lacking. Since then, the power play has struggled immensely. It went 0-3 against Columbus and hasn’t converted since December 19th against the Philadelphia Flyers. In that time, it also dropped from first in the league to third.

The injury to Dougie Hamilton has undoubtedly contributed to the power play struggles. Hamilton has an elite shot and a knack for getting pucks on net from the blue line. Flipping him to the top unit would generally be a good strategy to try and generate more offense. However, with Hamilton out long-term, Travis Green and the rest of the Devils’ coaching staff must try some other combinations to get the power play back into its rhythm.

Final Takeaways

The Devils managed to salvage a full two points in a game that was not their best. Sloppy passes and confusion in front of their netminder contributed to a closer score than the team would’ve liked. Slow starts also continued to be a problem for New Jersey, as they surrendered the first goal for the 24th time this season. While they may lead the league in come-from-behind victories, it is important that they also learn to establish an early lead and defend it.

Up Next

The Devils close out 2023 on the road with another set of back-to-back games. They take on the Ottawa Senators on the 29th before traveling to Boston to face the Bruins on the 30th.

This will be the first of three meetings between the Devils and Senators. Ottawa currently sits last in the Atlantic division, with a record of 13-17-0.

This is the second of three meetings for the Devils and Bruins this season. The Devils won the first game 2-1 in overtime on December 13th. Boston sits atop the Atlantic division, with 46 points and a record of 20-7-6. Puck drop for both matchups is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

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
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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