The New Jersey Devils (34-35-5) miracle run to the playoffs may be over.
New Jersey, desperate for a win, lost 1-0 in a shootout to division rival Pittsburgh Penguins (44-23-8) for their fourth loss in the past five games. With the Buffalo Sabres win, the Devils now sit a seemingly insurmountable ten points out of the playoffs with eight games left.
Ilya Kovalchuk believed this loss ended their dreams of a playoff berth.
"I don't know how Buffalo played, but if they win I think we're done," Kovalchuk told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "But still we've got to play for pride and our fans and just make a push and do better next year."
Offense was hard to come by all game. The teams combined for just four shots in the first period, the first time since the early 1980s that happened to the Devils. That trend continued throughout the game, with teams trading few scoring chances throughout regulation and overtime.
James Neal finally found the back of the net in the final round of the shootout. The left-winger moved in on Martin Brodeur, dekeing around the Devils goalie and putting the puck top shelf. Patrik Elias had a chance to continue the shootout, but Marc-Andre Fleury made a glove stop to deny the Devils a critical second point.
Fleury finished with 21 saves for his third shutout of the season and 19th of his career. Brodeur stopped 26 shots and recorded his 116th career shutout.
The Devils once again continued to struggle offensively, a hallmark of their disastrous first half of the season. In their past five games, New Jersey is 1-3-1 and have scored just four goals. The Devils, who had four powerplays, weren't able to generate any offense with their special teams.
"I don't think we got a chance on the power play to score," Kovalchuk told Gulitti.
While the situation went from slim to bleak, some players tried to hold out hope that the Devils can still make the playoffs.
"Theoretically, we have a chance, so you've got to believe," Henrik Tallinder told Brodeur.
Both Anton Volchenkov and Colin White left the game with lower body injuries. They were listed as day-to-day...The Penguins victory moved them within one point of the top seed in the Eastern Conference.