New Jersey Devils
Photo Credit: Dave Janosz

Devils playoff hopes diminished after loss to Buffalo

Friday night, the Devils took to the Buffalo Sabres' home ice at KeyBank Center for what may have been one of the most important games of the season for New Jersey. Despite the inconsistency this season, the Devils' playoff hopes remained alive. At the beginning of the game, the Devils were only five points out of a wildcard spot. They now sit six points out after a 5-2 loss against the Sabres with what may have been their last chance to make a run for the playoffs.

The Devils stepped onto the ice for the first period with high hopes of striking first and catching some momentum early. With some dominant play early on, New Jersey made an appearance on the board first as Max Willman tipped one in from Luke Hughes and Chris Tierney. This would light some fire under the Devils, and they'd perform more eagerly throughout the period. 

The smart plays and eagerness led to another goal for New Jersey, as Jesper Bratt extended the lead to 2-0 from Timo Meier and Nico Hischier. The Devils continued to dominate throughout the period with efficient plays and more scoring chances. New Jersey left the ice with a two-goal lead and momentum that would hopefully carry on into the second period.

The Devils came out for the second period hoping to extend their lead but were shut down almost instantly as Tage Thompson got Buffalo on the board, making the score 2-1. New Jersey seemed to slow down their play, and Buffalo took full advantage. The Sabres started to dominate throughout the period as Jake Allen kept the game at a 2-1 score. 

With only three minutes left in the second, the Devils had a defensive breakdown, and Thompson struck again to tie the game 2-2 from Alex Tuch. Disappointment ran through the Devils as they left the ice. New Jersey's inconsistency really showed throughout the second period. The team missed many chances that could have given them the lead. 

New Jersey entered the ice for the third period, hoping to find the back of Buffalo's net to give them the lead. The team seemed dejected throughout most of the period as Buffalo dominated in the Devils' zone. Both teams continuously fought for the lead, with many high-danger shots being taken. 

Late in the third period, the worst would happen for the Devils as Thompson would net his third goal of the night, giving him a hat trick from Rasmus Dahlin and Tuch. Travis Green would pull Jake Allen with hopes of tying the game, but his hopes would be deflated as JJ Peterka and Thompson would later score on the empty net a minute apart. New Jersey would leave the ice with a loss and their playoff hopes dwindling.

This game was a must-win for the Devils, but they could not get the desperately needed two points. The team may be unable to reach the playoffs, and some changes must be made during the offseason. Once these changes are made, the team will hopefully show the characteristics of a playoff team.

Leave a reply