Sometimes all it takes is one highlight to help explain how a team has played all year long. Tonight’s Devils-Wild game in New Jersey provided one such moment for the NHL’s worst team, the New Jersey Devils.
With the game tied at 1-1 early in the third period, the Wild just turned away a brief offensive flurry by the Devils. As the Wild headed the other way down the ice, Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner was merely doing his job by gaining the center line and dumping the puck in deep with a slap shot.
A funny thing happened along the way down the ice as the puck took a funny hop somewhere near the Devils bench. Rather than the puck sailing cleanly down the glass and boards on the way to a waiting Johan Hedberg. it bounced out quickly on its way towards an open net. Hedberg, already out behind his net to stop the approaching puck, was horribly out of position and couldn’t get back in the net fast enough to prevent the tumbling puck from going in the net.
For Stoner the goal was his first career NHL goal and turned into the game-winning goal as the Wild took out New Jersey 2-1 in Newark. For the terrible Devils, this one highlight seems to encapsulate their season perfectly. Despite best intentions, the bounces just didn’t go their way and a loss was earned.