A goal late in the first period by Ilya Kovalchuk, followed by one early in the second was the turning point in the Jets 5-1 loss in New Jersey.
The Devils added two more early in the second and it was uphill from there for the Jets, who were coming off an impressive road win in Ottawa.
The teams were cautious but traded chances in the first as Jim Slater and Nik Antropov both had opportunities early to score the game's opening goal. Zach Parise picked off a pass and sent Kovalchuk in alone, he beat Chris Mason for his 18th of the year at 18:59 of the first. Petr Sykora scored 1:32 into the second.
Kovalchuk's second of the game came on the power play and on the heels of a 5-on-3 power play. That made it 4-0 at which time Coach Claude Noel made a goaltending change, trying to spark his team.
Tobias Enstrom scored for the second straight game, but Patrick Elias replied for the Devils for a 5-1 final. Enstrom's goal prevented Martin Brodeur from picking up his first shutout of the season. The Jets are now 0-7 in the second half of back-to-back games.
“We have not been able to find the right buttons for the back-to-backs,” commented Noel.
As for the late first period goal, defenceman Ron Hainsey said you never want to give one up late.
“On the road in this situation, you want to get out of the period tied.”
Noel felt that despite the goal, his team still should have come back.
“[It's] not an insurmountable lead," he said. "Back-to-back is a poor excuse. We weren't very good.”
He juggled lines trying to find an offensive spark, but the Devils were again sound defensively. The offense seems to have dried up for most forwards, other than Blake Wheeler who did not make the trip.
Jets play Buffalo at the MTS Centre Thursday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290), and host Florida Saturday before two road games before the all-star break. Wheeler is expected back in the lineup, and the team is hopeful that Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuyglien will resume skating with the team.