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Devils Takeaways: Awful Start, Finding Ways to Lose in 4-1 Loss to Coyotes

The Coyotes three-goal first period was too much for the Devils to overcome in 4-1 loss.

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New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

This may have been the (pitch)fork in the 2023-24 season for the New Jersey Devils.

After the Devils trounced a Stanley Cup favorite in the Dallas Stars on Thursday, New Jersey invaded Mullet Arena to face the inferior Coyotes in the middle tilt of their three-game road trip.

Certainly, the Devils had to ride the wave of momentum over the dogs in the desert, right?

Wrong.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 4-1 loss to the Coyotes.

Devils Recap

For the 49th time in 67 games this season, the Devils surrendered the first goal of the game. J.J. Moser broke open the scoring giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead, and later Dylan Guenther and Logan Cooley tripled their lead heading into the first intermission. The Devils were the lone scorers in the second period as Nick DeSimone netted his first goal with New Jersey. That would be all the scoring until the Devils pulled their goaltender with three-plus minutes remaining in the third period. Clayton Keller hit the dagger, scoring on the empty net to secure Arizona’s 4-1 victory.

Kaapo Kahkonen made 12 saves on 15 shots and Nico Daws was a perfect 16/16 in relief.

Takeaways

Finding Ways to Lose

After the Detroit Red Wings got back in the win column, the Devils really needed to find a way to collect two points against one of the NHL’s worst in the Coyotes.

However, their dreadful start saw New Jersey fall behind 3-0 in the opening 20 minutes of the game.

The worst part about their start was that all three Coyotes goals were scored in different ways, highlighting the Devils’ deficits this season.

Starting with Kahkonen, unfortunately, the Devils’ newbie couldn’t come up with a big save on any three shots. However, the play in front of Kahkonen wasn’t nearly good enough. Moser’s goal was the result of a failed clearing attempt by Erik Haula that stayed in the Devils’ end of the ice. As a result, New Jersey found themselves out of position, and following some nifty passing, the Coyotes finished the play.

Later, a lazy stick play by Tomas Nosek resulted in a tripping penalty that saw the Devils play short-handed. Struggling to defend at even strength was hard enough, and after the Coyotes forced the Devils out of position, they created a shooting lane for Guenther who didn’t miss.

“Our start was disappointing today,” interim head coach Travis Green said. “I didn’t like the first 10-12 minutes of our game. One of the keys for us tonight was being ready to go. That’s a quick team over there, they play fast. I didn’t think we had our skating legs early enough. That resulted in taking a couple of penalties in the offensive zone which you never want to do, especially at this time of the year when you’re trying to win games badly. We get down two and then we start to chase the game, push the game. Obviously, we had a lot of good chances the rest of the way but we couldn’t score enough goals to catch up for us not being ready to start.”

As for the third goal, see below.

Owed ‘Em One

As much as defenseman Nick DeSimone was a hero in the Devils’ tilt against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, it didn’t take him very long to change the narrative on him on Saturday.

Granted, the Devils weren’t playing well already. They found themselves down 2-0 in the first period with the Coyotes taking advantage of their scoring chances.

However, DeSimone’s error was created all on his own which dug New Jersey into a deeper hole than they were already in.

After recovering the puck deep in their own zone, the Devils attempted to start a breakout. Chris Tierney handed the puck off to DeSimone who backtracked closer to Kahkonen’s crease. With a little pressure from Lawson Crouse, DeSimone’s breakout pass was intercepted point blank and Crouse fed the trailing Cooley who wired a shot past Kahkonen to triple the Devils’ deficit.

Fortunately, DeSimone flipped the script. The Devils defenseman buckled down after his blunder and helped New Jersey find the scoresheet for the first time on Saturday. Leading a rush up the ice, DeSimone dished the puck to Curtis Lazer in the offensive zone. Lazar promptly returned the puck to DeSimone and flipped the puck over a sprawling Karel Vejmelka and in the back of the net.

It was a solid response to the blunder by DeSimone earlier who was quite engaged for the remainder of the game.

Strong in Relief

With Jake Allen likely starting against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, he received a full day off and didn’t even dress against the Coyotes.

Daws, instead, backed Kahkonen up and his services were required quite early.

Following the first-period onslaught by Arizona, Green pulled Kahkonen after 20 minutes and played Daws.

The Devils played much better in the following 40 minutes, however, Daws was quite strong in relief. Of the 16 pucks Daws faced, the 23-year-old stopped all 16 he saw, including a breakaway chance by Michael Carcone in the second period.

Daws finished the contest making 1.13 saves above expected, according to MoneyPuck. He certainly gave the Devils a chance to win the game.

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