By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils will play their first game of 2018 on Tuesday night in St. Louis after going 1-1-1 to close out 2017.
The Devils lost to the Capitals, 5-2, Saturday night in Washington to fall out of first place in the Metropolitan Division.
It was New Jersey’s first regulation loss in three weeks, dating back to their 5-2 defeat vs. the Rangers on Dec. 9.
Defensemen Christian Djoos, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen each scored a goal for the Capitals in their win against the Devils.
The last time three different defensemen scored goals in the same game against New Jersey was on Nov. 7, 2014, when Brendan Smith, Niklas Kronwell and Jakub Kindle each scored in a 4-2 Red Wings victory in Detroit.
It had almost been exactly 25 years since three different Capitals defensemen scored goals in the same game against New Jersey.
On Jan. 1, 1993, Al Iafrate, Kevin Hatcher and Sylvain Cote each scored in a 9-2 Washington win at Capital Centre.
Meanwhile Saturday night, Travis Zajac played in his 800th NHL regular season game.
Only seven players have appeared in more regular season games for the New Jersey Devils:
• Ken Daneyko, 1,283
• Martin Brodeur, 1,266
• Patrik Elias, 1,240
• Scott Stevens, 956
• John MacLean, 934
• Scott Niedermayer, 892
• Jay Pandolfo, 819
On Friday night, the Devils’ bid for a perfect 6-0 homestand fell short with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres at the Prudential Center.
It was just the sixth-ever Devils homestand that last six games or more:
• Oct. 24 to Nov. 8, 1985 (3-3-1)
• Feb. 17 to Feb. 26, 1988 (2-4-0)
• Jan. 2 to Jan. 15, 1992 (4-1-1)
• Feb. 6 to Feb. 17, 1999 (2-3-1)
• Feb. 3 to Feb. 16, 2007 (4-2-0)
• Dec. 15 to Dec. 29, 2017 (5-0-1)
Rasmus Ristolainen scored 2:37 into overtime to give Buffalo the victory and snap New Jersey’s winning streak at five games.
It was the first time in club history the Devils lost a regular season game vs. the Sabres in overtime.
New Jersey had been 5-0 (with 12 ties) in regular season games. Those wins:
• Nov. 11, 2016: NJD 2 at Buf 1, Andy Greene
• Nov. 30, 2013: Buf 0 at NJD 1, Steve Bernier
• Oct. 13, 2010: NJD 1 at Buf 0, Ilya Kovalchuk
• Nov. 19, 2002: Buf 3 at NJD 4, Scott Niedrmayer
• April 15, 1998: Buf 4 at NJD 5, Scott Stevens
The Devils are 0-1 in the postseason overtime games against Buffalo, losing in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Dave Hannan’s goal in the fourth OT.
Marcus Johansson scored a power-play goal in Friday night’s loss. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johansson has scored at least one goal in each of his last seven games against the Sabres, dating back to December 2015 (nine total goals), the longest current goal-scoring streak against one team by any active NHL player.
Jacob Josefson scored the first goal for Buffalo in the Sabres’ win. Josefson is the third ex-Devil to score against New Jersey this season, joining Johnny Oduya (Ottawa, Oct. 27) and Adam Henrique (Anaheim Dec. 18).
No former New Jersey Devils scored goals against their ex-club last season, although current Devils Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson and Sami Vatanen each had at least one goal vs. New Jersey in 2016-17.
On Wednesday night, the Devils returned from the NHL’s Christmas break with a 3-1 win over the Red Wings in Newark.
Nico Hischier scored twice in the win, his first goals since Nov. 27 against Florida.
It was the second two-goal game in the NHL for Hischier, who will turn 19 years old Thursday.
As Elias noted, Hischier is the third player in Devils franchise history (including the years in Kansas City and Colorado) to register two multiple-goal games at age 18. The others were:
• Paul Gagne, Colorado (Oct. 14, 1980 vs. Quebec, and Dec. 17, 1980 at Chicago)
• Kirk Muller, New Jersey (Oct. 16, 1984 at Islanders, and Dec. 26, 1984 at Hartford)
Wednesday’s contest was John Hynes’ 200th game as head coach of the Devils.
Only three coaches have more career games behind the bench for New Jersey than Hynes:
• Jacques Lemaire (1994-2011), 509
• Doug Carpenter (1985-88), 290
• Peter DeBoer (2012-15), 248
Plus: No Lack of Depth. New Jersey acquired goaltender Eddie Lack from the Calgary Flames Saturday in exchange for defenseman Dalton Prout.
Minus: Cruel Replay Rules. A Taylor Hall goal was overturned because he was barely offside in Friday night’s overtime loss to the Sabres, but a blatant too-many-men-on-the-ice call was missed during a Capitals goal. It could not be reviewed.