Plain and simple, I hate the New Jersey Devils. It goes back to 2003 and the Stanley Cup Finals. No neutral journalistic policy here. I can manage that with every other team in the league, including the Red Wings and Kings. New Jersey? I just hate them. Including smirky Martin Brodeur, who played like 2003 Martin Brodeur against the Ducks on Friday evening.
Needless to say, all I want is the Ducks to beat New Jersey. Every single time that they meet up.
That did not happen on Friday night, but Anaheim did manage to pull out a point (and almost two of them) in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Devils.
The Ducks certainly played well the whole game. And they outshot the Devils 38 - 27, so they had their chances. However, Brodeur played exceptionally well for a guy who might retire at the end of this season. He stopped virtually everything he saw and was deservedly the first star of the game.
Jonas Hiller was equally up to the task and kept the Ducks in the game, even though they were behind for most of it.
Rookie standout, Adam Henrique, put the Devils on the board at 1:25 of the second period. His 15th goal of the year was batting in a rebound from Ilya Kovalchuk. Mentions of Henrique and Calder Trophy have a lot of merit.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was a dud for the Kings organization, put a puck through Hiller's five hole at 10:56. If you turn over a puck, most of the time, the other team is going to take advantage, and they did. 2-0 New Jersey and things did not look good for Anaheim, who still needs every precious point in the standings.
"There's been no quit in this team since the beginning of January," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "They just keep battling. There are a lot of guys with star power and there's an awful lot of no-names who are working their tail off and doing a heck of a job."
Never fear, Corey Perry is here! As is Sheldon Brookbank, but more on him later.
Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, doing what they do best, finally got one behind Brodeur at 16:08. Getzlaf had a wicked shot on net, one of the rare times he shoots instead of passes, and Perry finished off the rebound. Perhaps all was not lost for the Ducks after all.
Before the middle frame ended, Bobby Ryan was went down awkwardly into the boards while tangled with Anton Volchenkov. He was clearly in pain and hobbled to the locker room at the end of the period. Initially not on the bench to start the third, he joined his teammates shortly thereafter, although still clearly hurting. Ryan gritted it out for the remainder of the game, although he did admit he would likely be quite sore the next day.
The Ducks were unable to take advantage of three power play opportunities in the game. In fact, it seemed as if New Jersey had more chances while shorthanded than the Ducks did with the extra man. Perry had his own breakaway chance while shorthanded midway through the third period, but was denied by Brodeur, who stacked the pads old school.
As time was winding down, the Ducks refused to give up and Brookbank, as non-offensive a defenseman as you can get, tied up the game at 17:47. How rare is it for Brookbank to score?
Brookbank, a former Devil, scored for only the second time in his career. His first goal was on March 31, 2009, nearly three years ago. 167 games later, he figured he would do it again. It could not have come at a better time. And it gave the Ducks even more determination.
It appeared that the Ducks had gotten the extra point in overtime with a goal from Getzlaf at 1:10. Not so fast. Because it went off his foot, it had to be reviewed and it was a long review. Ruled a goal by the officials, it had to be overwhelming evidence that it was not. Toronto finally found the evidence they needed to determine it was indeed put in by a kicking motion and therefore, play would continue.
"I understand how difficult a job it is and I can understand they had an awful lot of criteria to look at," Boudreau said. "I bet they anguished over it for a minute. My belief is that if it was called no goal, that I wouldn't have overturned it. If it was called a goal, I wouldn't have overturned it either."
But overturn it they did and play went on. Dull was not an adjective that could be used to describe the remainder of overtime.
Shootout was required to make the final determination of the outcome. Brodeur could not stop Teemu Selanne, who has not scored a goal in the Devils new building, one of only a handful that he has not. Does it count if it is a shootout goal?
Hiller could not stop Kovalchuk nor Patrick Elias and with Brodeur denying Perry and Getzlaf, the win was New Jersey's.
Having eight points out of 10 earned in five road games is still respectable. The Ducks now head to Florida for a little sunshine and the hopes of earning more points in three remaining games before they land back in California.