Back to Reality, Uninspired Devils Fall to Predators

Nashville 3                      Devils 1

All the good feelings and the good vibes that the New Jersey Devils had, coming off a 3-0 shutout of Phoenix on Wednesday, vanished on Friday night when they could only muster 16 shots on goal during a lifeless 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators  at the Prudential Center. “It’s unacceptable,” lamented Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk after the game. “I don’t know what happened; we can’t play like that. Especially in our home building.” The Preds won their fifth game in a row behind the two power play goals scored by Martin Erat and the 15-save performance of rookie netminder Anders Lindback.

New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur only faced 20 shots himself, but he surrendered a goal in each period, each seeming to come at the most crucial of times; his record is now a very unBrodeurlike 5-13-1. Ex-Devil Steve Sullivan started the scoring late in the first period when deflected Shea Weber’s shot off of Brodeur and into the net for his ninth goal of the season with 16.3 seconds left in the period.

Erat beat Brodeur with a laser-like wrist shot 4:56 into the second period and then made it 3-0 in favor of Nashville when he scored on a deflection 4:55 into the third period. Devils rookie Mattias Tedenby, the only player on the team that played with energy, spoiled the shutout for Lindback just over two minutes later when he scored a power play marker. Travis Zajac nearly cut the Predators’ lead to one two minutes after Tedenby’s goal, but Lindback made the save, extinguishing any comeback thoughts the Devils might’ve had. “Nine shots through two periods is not enough,” said New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner after their sixth loss in seven games.

Game Notes: Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter led all skaters in ice-time with 28:19 and he had two assists; Kovalchuk led New Jersey in ice-time with 25:33 and had an assist. The Predators now have points in ten straight games (8-0-2). Erat scored on his only two shots and won all four face-offs he took; Weber registered two assists. Both teams are back in action on Saturday night — New Jersey (9-20-2) plays at Atlanta (17-11-5) and Nashville (17-8-6) returns home to play Los Angeles (17-11-1).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:
#1 — Martin Erat (Nsh) — 2 pp goals (5)
#2 — Shea Weber (Nsh) — 2 assists (10)
#3 — Ryan Suter (Nsh) — 2 assists (11)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

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