I can’t even describe my emotions right now. Despite a killer blizzard, the old saying goes, “The show must go on.” Well, it did and that game was a beauty. Two teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils, both came into this game on big win streaks and high spirits. The winner would enjoy the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference lead for the next 28 hours. Though it was a very shaky and uncertain start, the Devils overcame any obstacles that were thrown at them by the Penguins and delivered a masterful performance.
The first period was a struggle for New Jersey. Pittsburgh’s Brandon Sutter opened the scoring a minute and a half into the game on the power play. From that point, the majority of the period (and match too) was themed with penalties. Unfortunately when the Devils had the power play, they were very mediocre. At one point, I was wondering whether it was worth declining those Penguins penalties. The second period also featured more Pittsburgh penalties but I was happy to see a massive improvement from the Devils. They were passing and shooting the puck very skillfully and though there were no goals, I felt that it would only be time before they get one past Marc-Andre Fleury. On the other end, Marty Brodeur was having one hell of a game (no pun intended) and made some great saves on players, such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Regardless, my patience was thinning but with three and a half minutes left in the 2nd, Stefan Matteau, out of all others, freed my anxiety. After taking a great slap pass from Andy Greene, Matteau was left all alone on Fleury’s left side and wristed the puck into the goal. It was a great goal for Matteau and what a better time for him to get his first ever in the NHL? With the game tied, suddenly now the momentum was all belonging to New Jersey and I felt very confident about a breakout 3rd period. The only blemish the Devils had in that 2nd period was when Marty left his crease to retrieve his stick and Malkin shot the puck at the net from across the ice. The puck was sliding on Marty’s crease but the refs blew the play dead due to an offside. That was a funny moment for Brodeur but a big sigh of relief for Devils fans. The Penguins killed themselves in the 3rd with penalties. They took so many that I’m sure most fans lost count (5 penalties). On one of those NJ power plays, Bobby Butler shot a puck that rang off the crossbar and Adam Henrique found the puck on his stick and an open net in front of him. He took full advantage of that and the Devils now had a 2-1 lead with about 9 minutes left to play. I’m sure Butler thought he had a goal on that but no worries, because he found the back of the net too on another NJ power play, just a couple of minutes after Henrique’s goal! I couldn’t believe that the Devils had a 3-1 lead over Pittsburgh based on what was happening in the early stages of the match. Brodeur silenced the final Penguins chance by making a highlight save on Malkin from the side of the net (that will definitely make SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays). The Devils held on for the 3-1 victory and with that, first place in the Atlantic Division and first place in the Eastern Conference! In addition, this is their 4th straight victory. I’d also like to thank Winter Storm Nemo for postponing tonight’s match between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning because a Bruins win would have put them in first place. New Jersey will have a huge rematch with these heartbroken Penguins tomorrow in Pittsburgh. The game will not be easy but I have faith so bring it on and let’s go Devils! A win would be golden. Puck drop is set for 7:30 P.M. and the game will be broadcasted on the NBC Sports Network.