Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Take 'Step in the Right Direction' with Point

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils Take 'Step in the Right Direction' with Point

Article excerpt

NEWARK – All week the Devils talked about being able to close games out in the third period. A light week with just two games on the docket, they were put in stressful situations in practices. Situations that were meant to mimic the late-game, pressure-packed moments of close games.

The biggest point of emphasis? Learning to play for a tie.

The Devils did exactly that on Thursday night at Prudential Center in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators. And while a loss is a loss and technically the Devils have now suffered three straight -- a disappointment after four straight wins to open the season -- this one wasn't lost in the same ugly manner as the other two. This loss was beneficial.

"I think we took a step in the right direction in that way and had more of a complete team effort," coach John Hynes said. "We still need a little bit more from some guys, a little bit more to find a way to win the game, but I think if you continue to play better and build on it we will."

What Hynes liked was the way the team battled and kept their structure throughout most of the contest against a Western Conference power.

They went 50 percent in the faceoff dot after a disastrously bad game in the circles last weekend against the Flyers. They did a lot of things right. They blocked shots, clogged the shooting lanes, won puck battles and used their speed to get to the net.

There were chances in the third period but Predators goalie Juuse Saros, a No. 2 who plays more like a No. 1, made some highlight-reel saves.

Hynes and his staff preached playing to their identity and they were able to find that identity once again.

"There were some turnovers and that's going to happen," captain Andy Greene said. "But I think we went back to playing the type of game that we needed to play."

Absent was the effort in the two losses prior but all involved agreed that the effort and intensity levels were there on Thursday night. …

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