Only One Team's Killer Instinct Prevailed, As The Devils Had Their Chances To Put Down The Predators
The truth is that a back-and-forth game that, from a Devils perspective, probably saw a bit too many chances going each way when considering the skill level of their opponent can't be dumbed down to a highlight or two. However, in the interest of keeping things succinct, I can say that the following saves tell the short-form version of last night's story...
In case you have a problem taking a hint and instead need it spoon-fed to you, the point is that the Devils had their chances to put away a team that became more and more bound to tie things up with each failed opportunity. Of course, by absolutely crushing one off the tee and into the top corner of the net, Filip Forsberg did just that...
It's tough to be too upset, as New Jersey went toe-to-toe and tit-for-tat with one of the most complete rosters in the NHL, but taking one on the chin after whiffing on multiple knockout punches was a reminder of how opportunistic they need to keep pace when they aren't the more talented team. Outside of an anomaly of a first goal, Keith Kinkaid continued to give the Devils more than enough margin for error. That was especially true during an early going in which the rest of the lineup was late to get going in turning over multiple pucks at their blue-line, but even as the game worn on he was visually swerving through to traffic to gobble up pucks. Unfortunately, Juuse Saros was equal to the task in doing the same to a Devils team whose effort was of the winning variety but whose execution fell short in the one aspect that literally counts the most.
Injuries are a bullshit thing to bitch about, as everybody has them, but they are definitely felt more sharply when you're playing a team with as many weapons as the Nashville Predators. Marcus Johansson would never say as much, but he began to miss his fellow countryman in Jesper Bratt more and more with each passing 2-on-1 in which Jean-Sebastien put forth a Dea-grade attempt to score. Eric Gryba, as much as it's his role to play things a 1976-style of safe, gave the Ben Lovejoy haters a good look at what a slow, plodding defenseman with limited puck skills really looks like in being a noticeable downgrade next to Will Butcher.
All in all, despite losing in a coin flip of an extra period, there were quite a few positives throughout a game in which they Devils played their way to a point with something much closer to the brand of hockey they displayed in jumping out to a 4-0 start.
Nico Hischier looking like a wide receiver in outwitting and outworking P.K. Subban to the front of the net for his second goal on a night in which he unsurprisingly looked every bit of a #1 center was definitely one of them...
...as was Damon Severson somewhat quietly continuing his growth into the trustworthy player the Devils have been praying on the potential of by padding his stats...
I can probably think of about a dozen or so, but that's already two more than the Devils put forth in Philadelphia, so the important thing is that they are once again headed in the right direction. Hopefully that direction leads to the win column tomorrow afternoon, as another season of streaks is not something my heart (or likely John Hynes' voice box) can handle.