Last night’s win away in Belfast was more significant than this Cup game, so there was a certain indifference to the result tonight. Which was just as well as the Devils performance was lacklustre. A freak goal from Richardson out by the boards, which was intended as a pass to front of net and, much to his surprise, ended up squeezing past Pacl, was all that the Devils had to show. And that follows on from a shutout up in Nottingham a couple of weeks ago. One lucky goal in 120 minutes suggests that the Panthers have worked out how to thwart the Devils attack. And this was without the impressive Wilkman in net, and the rather uncertain Pacl in his place.
The Devils had a good period of pressure in the first period, but then a sudden 4 on 1 break from Panthers saw Lawrence fire home. A Haddad penalty saw the Devils struggle to gain momentum until the final few minutes. With 30 seconds remaining Doucet blazed wide with a near empty net in front of him. The second period started with Richie’s fluke goal to level the game. On a PP Doucet again missed a very clear chance. The Devils seemed to be working hard to get him his first goal of the season. The 3rd period saw a revenge fluke goal from Carter when a straightforward shot at Bowns bounced out of his glove and rolled over his shoulder into the net. There was some scrapping from the Devils and they tried shooting on sight at Pacl, but the Panthers defence was effective in closing them down and causing easy errors. A slapshot from Moran out by the blue line went through Bowns, who didn’t have a good game. Towards the end of the period there was the now obligatory Doucet miss. It ended 3-1, without a Devils comeback ever looking likely.
It’s not a big deal, flying back from an OT game in Belfast last night the team looked tired. The inability to score against the Panthers may be an issue later in the season. Doucet typified the frustration tonight. He scored 35 goals last season, although suffered from being shuffled around lines. He has yet to score this season, and the confidence is fraying. Doucet is a sniper, so tonight’s line with Ulmer and Benti should suit him. He has been on different lines this season, including one game on the 4th line, which is akin to serving a light, airy souffle with a massive side of fried liver. He’s not the Devils key man, but over the season he is one of those players who will need to contribute a decent points total. The Doucet Situation is not a crisis, but it’s an early season head scratcher so far.