WASHINGTON – The Devils had a chance to improve their playoff semifinal, but a regulation defeat sealed their fate.
They will enter the postseason as the second wild card in the Eastern Conference after a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday at Capital One Arena. The Devils finished the regular season 44-29-9.
As the second wild card, the Devils will win the Atlantic Division winner in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They will play in Tampa Bay Lightning or the Boston Bruins. That will be determined on Sunday, when the Bruins host the Florida Panthers. If the Bruins win in any way, the Devils will play in the first round. Any loss of Boston means that the Demons will play the Lightning.
Before the Majors scored the last two goals, the Demons managed to tie it to start the third period.
After attending the first two goals of the Devils, Patrick Maroon scored to make it a 3-3 game. He took a cross pbad from Pavel Zacha in the left circle, and his high shot found the net 2:04 in the final period.
But the capitals took the lead when Alex Ovechkin scored his second game at 5: 11.
Devil striker Stefan Noesen played a disc in the middle, but went straight to Ovechkin. He picked up the record, dropped it and shot goalkeeper Cory Schneider for his ninth NHL season.
The advantage was 5-3 when another prolonged shift for Capitals ended with Andre Burakovsky finishing a shot in front of the fold of a Michael Kempny pbad at 11:50.
The Capitals took the lead in the first period and never lost, even though the Demons tied the game twice.
The Capitals hit the first goal when Ovechkin scored his first goal of the game 2:21 in play. He set up in the left circle and one synchronized a shot from a pbad by Evgeny Kuznesov, sending a rocket past Schneider.
Nico Hischier responded by the Demons at 8:10 of the first, tying the game at 1-1 with his 20th goal of the season. After a dangerous career of Hischier and Jesper Bratt, the record found Maroon behind the net. Maroon found Hischier to the left of the slot, and hid his chance past the Caps goalkeeper Braden Holtby.
A dangerous change at the end of the first period put the Caps up 2-1 heading for the intermission. After rushing to their offensive zone, the Capitals cornered the Devils and forced a pair of turnovers before Brett Connolly found Nicklas Backstrom cut in the slot, where he scored a goal with 28 seconds left in the frame.
After the Caps obtained a 2-1 advantage in the first period, they were added to open the second. Kempny hit a shot from the point through the traffic and below the crossbar 3:44 to the second for a 3-1 lead.
That advantage remained until the Demons responded in the last minute before the intermission. Maroon picked up his second badist of the night when he dropped a pbad to Miles Wood in the crease, allowed Wood to hit on his 19th. It's from the season.
The Demons now await their postseason schedule. Game 1 of the first round will be on the road, played on Wednesday, April 11 or Thursday, April 12.
The team will be off on Sunday before returning to practice Monday in Newark.