Tired Minnesota Wild overcome holiday traffic, New Jersey Devils end two-game losing streak

NEWARK, NJ – Thanksgiving Eve is a traffic nightmare in many metropolitan areas, but none is worse than New York.

The New Jersey Devils know this and reached their game on time Wednesday night. The Minnesota Savage, New Jersey’s opponent, did not and did not.

But they got a victory.

After a 24-minute delay in the first period – caused by the Wild’s obstructed trip to New Jersey from Manhattan – Minnesota escaped with a 3-2 shootout victory in which Kevin Fiala scored the only goal of the extra session.

It was much needed, as the Wild wrapped up a road trip by ending a two-game skid, staying on top of the Central Division along the way.

Cam Talbot made 42 saves and beat the home team in overtime and shootout after the Devils tied the score with two goals in the third period.

With the closure of the Holland Tunnel, the Wild had to find alternate routes to get to the Prudential Center, which isn’t the easiest thing to do on vacation. The team bus did not arrive until 6:26 p.m. and the departure was postponed to 7:33 p.m.

“We took a nice, beautiful scenic drive through New York,” said Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno noted.

While the Wild can have fun with this development, it hasn’t gone particularly well with the home team.

“My opinion is it’s a little irresponsible of them,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said.

But Minnesota looked fresh from the start, scoring two first-period goals before the Devils rallied. Dmitry Kulikov, a former Devils defenseman, helped Ryan hartmanto open the scoring at 12:10 of the first period and give the Wild a 1-0 lead. Nico Strum scored at 7:06 pm, making it 2-0 in the first intermission.

“It is what it is,” Sturm said. “At one point on the bus, we just accepted that this was how it was going to be.”

The Devils cut the lead in half at the start of the third when Pavel Zacha scored to make it 2-1 at 3:08. And New Jersey tied the score with six skaters on the ice when Yegor Sharangovich scored at 18:53 to bring the score to 2-2.

minnesota coach Dean Evason did not play the game in his post-match availability, when asked about the delay. Clearly expecting the question, he stuck to what happened on the ice.

“First of all, it doesn’t matter. It happened. When the puck is released, it doesn’t matter what happened before, and it didn’t matter, ”said Evason. “We loved our departure. We loved our departure. But we didn’t like it too much after that. Because we didn’t handle the game.”

Mackenzie blackwood made 27 saves in the loss to New Jersey. The Devils went 0 for 4 on the power play, including a two-man advantage in the third period, when Talbot made three saves.

“We loved our goalie,” said Evason. “If he wasn’t doing what he was doing, that’s another story.”

The Devils are down to 1-3 in a shootout this season, but they have points in three of their last four games and are 8-5-4 going into the holidays.

“We’ve talked about it, and we have a team that isn’t giving up,” Ruff said. “I think we all think there was one point that we missed out on tonight.”

The Wild, meanwhile, have a three-point lead over the rest of Central and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.

“The circumstances were obviously not ideal for tonight,” said Talbot. “Not a ton of time to prepare. But give our guys a ton of credit.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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