NEWARK, N.J. — The night before Thanksgiving is a traffic nightmare in many metropolitan areas, but none may be worse than New York City.
The New Jersey Devils know that, and made it to their game in plenty of time Wednesday night. The Minnesota Wild, New Jersey’s opponent, didn’t and didn’t.
But they did get a win.
After a 24-minute delay to the first period — caused by the Wild’s clogged travel into New Jersey from Manhattan — Minnesota escaped with a 3-2 shootout victory in which Kevin Fiala scored the lone goal in the extra session.
It was much needed, as the Wild closed a road trip by ending a two-game skid, remaining atop the Central Division along the way.
Cam Talbot made 42 saves and thwarted the home team in overtime and the shootout after the Devils tied the score with two third-period goals.
With the Holland Tunnel closed, the Wild had to find alternative roads to get to the Prudential Center, not the easiest thing to do the night before a holiday. The team bus did not arrive until 6:26 p.m. and the start was pushed back to 7:33 p.m.
“We took a nice beautiful, scenic route in New York City,” Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno said.
While the Wild may have some fun with this moving forward, it didn’t particularly sit well with the home team.
“My opinion is it’s a little bit irresponsible on their part,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said.
But Minnesota appeared fresh in the early going, scoring two first-period goals before the Devils rallied. Dmitry Kulikov, a former Devils defenseman, assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal to open the scoring 12:10 into the first and give the Wild a 1-0 lead. Nico Strum scored at 19:06, making it 2-0 at the first intermission.
“It is what it is,” Sturm said. “At some point on the bus, we just accepted the fact that that’s how it was going to be.”
The Devils cut the lead in half early in 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 make it 2-2.
Minnesota coach Dean Evason didn’t play along in his postgame availability, when asked about the delay. Clearly expecting the question, he stuck to what happened on the ice.
“First off, it doesn’t matter. It happened. When the puck is dropped, it doesn’t matter what the hell happened before, and it didn’t,” Evason said. “We loved our start. Loved our start. But we didn’t love too much after that. Because we didn’t manage the game.”
Mackenzie Blackwood made 27 saves in the loss for New Jersey. The Devils were 0-for-4 on the power play, including a two-man advantage in the third period, when Talbot had three saves.
“We loved our goaltender,” Evason said. “If he wasn’t doing what he was doing, it’s a different story out there.”
The Devils fell to 1-3 in shootouts this season, but they have points in three of their past four games, and are 8-5-4 headed into the holiday.
“We’ve talked about this, and we’ve got a team that doesn’t quit,” Ruff said. “I think we all feel there was a point that got away from us tonight.”
The Wild, meanwhile, have a three-point lead on the rest of the Central and are 6-3-1 in their past 10 contests.
“The circumstances weren’t ideal coming into tonight obviously,” Talbot said. “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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