NEWARK, NJ (AP) –Juuse Saros made 29 saves and the Nashville Predators defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Friday night.
The start was Saros’ first after missing the last two games with an undisclosed illness the team stressed was not COVID-19. Roman Josi and Eeli Tolvanen scored in the second period, and Yakov Trenin added a goal in the third for Nashville, who have won four in a row.
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“The competitive nature of the group is at a high level,” said Nashville coach John Hynes. “We have a lot of guys who are natural competitors, which we talked about, and we’re finding ways to win different games.”
New Jersey lost five of seven and seven of ten overall. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 24 shots and Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich scored for the Devils. The Devils dominated Nashville 31-27.
âWhen you get these opportunities – and we will grow to learn not to take advantage of them or not to perform at a higher level. Part of that is the youth, part of that is a certain confidence that you can do it, âNew Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “We just haven’t been able to do it tonight.”
The first period ended in a stalemate at 0-0, with New Jersey having a slight 6-3 advantage in shots on goal in part thanks to three power plays.
The Devils broke through just midway through the second period on Zacha’s ninth goal of the season. Nico Hischier won a plank fight behind the net before pushing the puck to Jesper Bratt, who whipped a pass into the lunge that Zacha laser etched into Saros’ glove.
The lead lasted 2:23, when Josi scored his ninth of the season. New Jersey’s earlier power-play failure came back to haunt the Devils when Tolvanen’s goal two minutes to go sent Nashville into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.
âI was kinda on my own in the lunge,â Josi said of his goal. “(I) tried to be a low blocker but I think he got through his hands a bit.”
Trenin extended Nashville’s lead to 3-1 just six minutes into the third with his fifth of the season, and Sharangovich’s fourth of the season with 1:05 remaining ended the scoring.
“Send more pucks to the net” was how Hischier diagnosed what caused the Devils’ latest loss. âIn the first half, we were skating well, but we still weren’t enough in front of the net. I feel like the goalie saw all the pucks. Clean this area. We’ve got to get those lucky bounces and he’s going to bounce right in front of your stick, so you just need to be more in net.
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BERNIER IN IR
During his pre-game availability, Ruff announced that goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier had been placed in the injured reserve due to a lingering hip injury.
Ruff said the injury had “worried and very worried” him, for Bernier, who signed a two-year, $ 8.25 million contract.
Ruff said Bernier “will meet with our doctors and medical staff to try to determine what the next steps may be.”
New Jersey called up AHL Utica’s Akira Schmid as part of the related transfer.
Nashville has recalled AHL Milwaukee’s Matt Luff to replace Matt Duchene in the roster. The team announced during warm-ups that the star center would miss the game with an upper body injury and called his condition “day to day”. â¦ Goalkeeper Connor Ingram has been reassigned to Milwaukee due to Saros’ return to the lineup.
Predators: Visit the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Devils: Visit New York Islanders on Saturday night.
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