Top Shelf: Josefson delivers on ‘Devil’s Night’

Philadelphia, PA ( – In a fitting twist of fate, the New
Jersey Devils finally ended their NHL record run of shootout losses on Oct.
30, or as some folks call it, “Devil’s Night.”

One night before Halloween, Jacob Josefson ended the Devils’ string of 18
consecutive shootout losses, beating Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec with a head
fake for New Jersey’s first SO win since March 10, 2013, also against the

The Devils always tried to downplay the shootout skid, but it was obvious a
weight was lifted off their shoulders on Thursday. Besides, New Jersey knows
first-hand how important shootouts can be over the course of a season, even if
it pretends they’re insignificant.

After all, the club finished only five points out of a playoff spot last
season while losing all 13 of its shootouts, so it clearly had an effect on
the team.

Last season marked the Devils’ second straight spring without a playoff
appearance since making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012. New Jersey’s
first month of the 2014-15 campaign has been a mixed bag, but the club is
hoping the shootout victory is the sign of good things to come.

“It was our first home win of the season, and first shootout win in what feels
like 10 years,” said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. “So we got a couple
monkeys off our back and can move forward; it was a big two points.”

DeBoer clearly had his team ready for this season, as the Devils jumped out to
a 3-0 start. Things quickly soured, however, with New Jersey dropping five of
its next six games before coming through with the shootout triumph over the
Jets. The club also failed a big early-season test in its previous game,
losing Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh by an 8-3 score.

Although DeBoer led Jersey to its deep playoff run in his first season with
the club in 2011-12, the bench boss is hardly standing on solid ground with
the Devils after failing to qualify for the postseason in consecutive
campaigns. Josefson allowed the coach to breathe easier on Thursday, if only
for one night.

Josefson was the second shooter for New Jersey in the decisive phase of
Thursday’s game. After Damien Brunner hit the post for the Devils on their
first attempt, Josefson’s fake sent Pavelec to the ice and gave him plenty of
net to shootout. The 23-year-old Swede then calmly wristed the puck over
Winnipeg’s netminder for the lead, and Devils goaltender Cory Schneider
stopped both Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little to get Jersey an elusive shootout

“Hopefully it’s the start of something good (in the shootout) and we can get a
roll going here, but we’d rather win the games before the shootout,” Josefson

It’s possible Josefson may never had the chance to play shootout hero for the
Devils if not for teammate Patrik Elias. DeBoer said Elias has been touting
Josefson’s breakaway skills to anyone who will listen, and his head coach
finally heeded the advice.

“(Josefson) has been really good in practice and (Elias) keeps bringing up his
name whenever we’re talking about the shootout because he’s got a knack for
scoring in practice,” said DeBoer.

“It was an easy pick,” the coach added. “And with a lot of pressure on, he
made a great play.”

DeBoer’s decision helped end a scary drought in the shootout, but the
memorable “Devil’s Night” could soon be forgotten if Jersey doesn’t start
playing with more consistency.

“We just have to ride it out, find a way to win and get points,” Elias told NJ
Advance Media after Thursday’s win. “We’ve got to be better, but we’ll take
those points.”