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Devils Takeaways: Defensive Lapses Cost New Jersey Again in 6-3 Loss to Jets

Morrissey collects four points, Connor & Ehlers score twice as Winnipeg downs New Jersey.

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New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The New Jersey Devils flew into Winnipeg to take on the Jets hoping to break their two-game losing streak. However, the Devils hit a bit of turbulence, as the hometown team routed them to a 6-3 loss. Josh Morrissey collected four assists and Kyle Connor’s two-goal, three-point night sent New Jersey packing on their way to Pittsburgh.

New Jersey is now on a three-game losing streak. Let’s dive into how it happened.

Devils Quick Wrap

The Devils and Jets exited the first-period scoreless thanks to Akira Schmid. Winnipeg outshot New Jersey 9-7 in the opening frame, however, Schmid stopped all that Winnipeg threw his way. However, five goals were exchanged in the second period. The Jets took a 2-0 lead late into the second period on the sticks of Kyle Connor and Cole Perfetti. New Jersey scored a pair of their own, however, as Timo Meier and John Marino each beat Connor Hellebuyck just over a minute apart. Just as quickly as the Devils tied the game, they surrendered the lead as Nikolaj Ehlers scored to make it a 3-2 game by the end of the middle frame. Three goals by the Jets in the third period blew the game wide open. Connor and Ehlers reached scored their second and Morgan Barron notched a single tally.

Schmid ended the night making 25 saves on 30 shots. Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves on 34 shots.

Takeaways

Caught Puck Watching

Both the Jets’ first and third goals of the game were preventable had New Jersey’s blue line just moved their feet.

Connor opened the scoring as a result of taking advantage of a stagnant Devils defense. The Jets forward started with the puck at the far left wall, throwing it on net at Schmid. The Devils’ goaltender was able to fight off the shot, however, Winnipeg recovered in the offensive zone at the blue line. Both John Marino and Jonas Siegenthaler followed the puck with their eyes which allowed Connor to slip away uncovered. Morrissey found the streaking, uncovered Connor who then put another shot on goal, and recovered his own rebound for a goal, all while Marino and Siegenthaler watched the play unfold applying no defensive pressure.

Luke Hughes and Dougie Hamilton, a new defensive duo, became caught up in a similar situation. Both Hughes and Hamilton attempted to defend Ehlers with the puck below the Devils goal line. Ehlers won the puck battle as both Hughes and Hamilton lost their footing, spilling over each other. As the Jets cycled the puck around the offensive zone, Ehlers slipped away from defensive zone coverage via Hughes and Hamilton who wound up puck-watching as Winnipeg cycled the puck. With the net wide-open at the right circle, Ehlers scored an easy goal to regain the Jets’ lead.

Despite shaking things up on the blue line, defensive lapses continue to cost New Jersey this season.

Strong Showing from Palat

Ondrej Palat was one of New Jersey’s best players on Tuesday night. The Devils are going to need more out of their $6 million forward, especially in the absence of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.

The 32-year-old forward was demoted to the third line at morning skate in the previous two skates. However, in search of more offense, head coach Lindy Ruff shook up the lines and Palat made his way back up to the top six.

Down 2-0 in the second period, the Devils went to the power play. With Jack missing on the first unit, Palat helped New Jersey control the pace on the man advantage. Cycling the puck, Palat found Meier in the slot and he wouldn’t hesitate to put the puck on goal, which eventually found the back of the net and swung momentum New Jersey’s way.

Palat’s primary assist registered his 300th career NHL assist. He ended the night on the positive side of the chance differential 10-6 and accrued an 88.75 xGF%, all at 5-on-5.

It wasn’t the result New Jersey wanted, but Palat was one of a few of the higher-paid Devils to play well on Tuesday.

Lacking Finish

The interesting thing about Tuesday night’s contest is that the fancies say New Jersey controlled the majority of the play. Through the 60-minute effort, the Devils accrued a 60.00 CF% and 58.42 xGF% at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick.

In the third period specifically, New Jersey dominated the chance share 21-6 and created nine scoring chances as opposed to Winnipeg’s two.

Unfortunately, New Jersey was only able to muster up one goal despite the plethora of chances, whereas Winnipeg’s finishers were able to convert.

The Devils controlled the chance share in both the first and third periods. They didn’t even play a bad second period despite Winnipeg controlling the chance share 18-19.

The pucks just didn’t fall in New Jersey’s favor on Tuesday night. The good news? Jack Hughes’ return could be imminent.

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