The New Jersey Devils lost to the Minnesota Wild in a shootout, Saturday.
The Wild entered the rink Saturday night winless in its last three games as the Devils entered confidently, winning its last two. Jack Hughes traveled with the team to Minnesota but missed his second straight game as he is week to week with an upper-body injury.
Vitek Vanecek made his 31st start of the season for New Jersey while Filip Gustavsson lined up in the other crease. Saturday night marked Gustavsson’s 20th start for the Wild. Prior to Saturday night, Vanecek had a ten-game win streak under his belt, while Gustavsson entered with a two-game losing streak under his.
Gustavsson last played on Feb. 9 when he came off the bench and took over for Marc – Andre Fleury, who let in five goals in two periods against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Gustavsson played all of the third period and gave up no goals while coming away with eight saves.
The puck dropped, and the Wild struck first less than six minutes into the contest. 26-year-old Joel Eriksson Ek tipped in a shot taken by Calen Addison. The goal marked Eriksson Ek’s 44th point of the season.
The first period ended 1-0, with Eriksson Ek having the lone goal.
After the puck dropped for period two, another early goal surfaced as Tomas Tatar got the Devils on the board. The game now tied at one, Tatar whistled a slap shot past Gustavsson scoring his 11th goal of the season. The goal earned him his 29th point.
Tatar did not stop there as he scored his second goal of the game less than four minutes later. This time Devils defenseman, Damon Severson, shot the puck from the point when it rang off the top of Tatar’s stick, finding the upstairs part of the net.
New Jersey was holding a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
Just 5:25 into the third period, Ryan Hartman evened the game at two. Defenseman Matt Dumba unloaded a shot sizzling toward the net when the puck hit Hartman’s back and trickled in.
Hartman was fighting with Devils defenseman Ryan Graves in front of the net looking to gain a better position for a tip-in. That is when he was twisted around resulting in his back being exposed to the shot, leading to the deflection.
Three periods were not enough hockey to settle the score, so the game went to overtime. Both teams raced back and forth, but the three-on-three, open-ice matchup was not enough either.
The game went to a shootout which is where the Wild pulled away. Mats Zuccarello slid the rubber through the legs of Vanecek, giving the Wild a 1-0 shootout lead.
Tatar kicked things off for New Jersey and tried to reciprocate Zuccarello’s attempt but failed as Gustavsson denied his shot.
Russian native Kiril Kaprizov, who has 62 points in 52 games, skated up next for the Wild and missed the opportunity to give his team a 2-0 shootout lead.
Devils Left Wing, Jesper Bratt, was shut down by Gustavsson, missing the tying opportunity and putting the Wild on the brink of gathering the win and two points.
The game was on Fredrick Gaurdeau’s stick as he skated down the ice, took a wide route towards the boards, skated back middle, and stapled a shot to the left of Vanecek.
The Devils look to jump back in the win column on Tuesday when they battle the last place, Columbus Blue Jackets, in Columbus, Ohio.
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