CHL Playoffs Begin for Devils Prospects

Two Devils prospects began the playoffs in the Canadian Hockey League. Defenseman Xavier Bernard (Charlottetown Islanders – QMJHL) and defenseman Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs – WHL) saw action tonight in their two league’s first round playoff series.

First up was Bernard and Charlottetown on the Canadian east coast. They began a series against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec League’s playoffs. The game was in Charlottetown at the Eastlink Centre. And what a way to start the playoffs, with a game that went two overtimes.

The Screaming Eagles got the scoring kicked off at the 13:22 mark of the first period when Derek Gentile scored from Gabriel Proulx and Leon Gawanke. Charlottetown followed with two goals of their own in the second and third periods.

The Islanders’ Kevin Gursoy scored late in the second at 18:56 (assist to Nikita Alexandrov). Then Daniel Hardie scored 5:55 into the third from Hunter Drew and Lukas Cormier to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. The Hardie goal came on the power play. Cape Breton was 0-for-4 on the power play for the night while Charlottetown was 1-for-5.

But Cape Breton tied things at two with just about four minutes remaining in the game. Mitchell Balmas scored from Kyle Havlena at 15:45. This would go on to force overtime as neither team could gain the advantage with time remaining.

Following a scoreless first OT, Charlottetown’s Brett Budgell scored from Thomas Casey and Drew at the 5:43 mark of the second OT. With that, the Islanders took a 1-0 lead in this opening series.

Bernard ended the game a minus-1 with two shots on goal (neither one considered a dangerous scoring chance according to the QMJHL website’s scoresheet.

The goalies for each team played well. Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton) making 39 saves on 42 shots against while Charlottetown’s Matthew Welsh made 41 saves on 43 shots. Mandolese was the game’s third star at night’s end while Welsh was the second. Budgell, with the OT winner for the Islanders, was the game’s first star.

Game two of this series takes place on Saturday, March 23 with the Islanders leading one game to none.

From here, we move out west to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena where Ty Smith and the Chiefs were taking on the Portland Winterhawks in a Western Hockey League first round playoff matchup.

After Portland got on the board first with a power play goal by Jake Gricius at 11:20 of the first, giving the Winterhawks the lead through the first intermission, it was all Spokane.

Adam Beckman scored to tie things at one 3:08 into the second period. That was a power play goal set up by Luke Toporowski and Jack Finley. Smith then set up a goal at 12:02 of the second by Riley Woods on the power play. Eli Zummack had the secondary assist.

The Chiefs struck again on the power play at 17:56 of the second when Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored from Woods and Smith. That made it 3-1 Spokane and gave Smith his second point on the night this one on the eventual game winner.

In the third, the Chiefs added two more when Kaden Hanas scored 3:34 in and when Ethan McIndoe found the back of the net at the 4:23 mark. That made it 5-1.

The Winterhawks’ Joachim Blichfeld added a late goal on the power play to make it 5-2 with less than a minute left, but the damage was done. Spokane came away with the victory and the 1-0 series lead.

Smith finished the game with the two assists for two points, an even plus/minus and three shots on goal. On the power play, Portland went 2-for-8 while Spokane was 3-for-5.

In goal, Joel Hofer made 17 saves on 22 shots for Portland while Bailey Brkin stopped 34-of-36 shots for the Chiefs. Brkin was named the game’s first star for his efforts while Woods was second star with a goal and an assist and Hanas was the third star with a goal.

Game two of this series is also later tonight.

Meanwhile, in Russia, another Devils prospect is hard at work in the KHL playoffs. Defenseman Yegor Zaitsev had a goal in Dynamo Moscow’s loss in game three of their series to CSKA. CSKA leads that series two games to one.

Dynamo had defeated Jokerit Helsinki in the first round to advance to play CSKA in the Western Conference semifinals. Zaitsev has two goals during this year’s KHL playoffs.

We will try to keep you up-to-date here with all of the goings on of the various Devils prospects playing in their league’s postseasons.

Devils Drop One to Bruins

The Devils’ homestand continued tonight with a 5-1 loss to another Stanley Cup contender, the Boston Bruins. New Jersey drops the three game season series to Boston, two games to one.

One bit of housekeeping to get to first. According to Craig Seiden on Twitter (@CraigSeiden), Joey Anderson had an assist added to Kenny Agostino’s goal on Tuesday night against Washington. So that goal was not unassisted.

Roster-wise, Kyle Palmieri left the Capitals game in the first period with an apparent upper body injury. He would not play tonight. Will Butcher was also out tonight with an illness. However, making his return from injured reserve was Pavel Zacha, who had been out with a concussion for the last 16 games. Nick Lappin was reassigned to Binghamton of the AHL and defenseman Josh Jacobs was recalled from Binghamton to replace Butcher on the roster tonight. This was his NHL debut and he wore number 40.

Another player making his debut in his home state was Long Branch, New Jersey-native Connor Clifton of the Bruins. The Boston d-man wore number 75.

And Clifton’s team would be playoff bound if the B’s won tonight in regulation and the Canadiens lost in any fashion to the Islanders in their game. The Bruins held their end of the bargain, but unfortunately for them, Montreal beat the Isles 4-0, so it was a no go for that.

In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider. He stopped 22 of 26 Boston shots for an .846 save percentage on the night. Opposing him was Bruins workhorse Tuukka Rask. He stopped 21 of 22 Devils shots for a .955 save percentage. Rask would go on to be named the game’s third star.

On special teams, Boston was 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots while the Devils were 0-for-1 with two shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot to go along with things. The Devils actually kind of got away with a play in the second period when a Steven Santini cross checking penalty was finishing up. Santini came out of the penalty box and immediately played the puck. If any part of his second foot was still on the floor of the penalty box, this would have been a penalty. The officials got together and linesman Darren Gibbs later told Devils iceside reporter Bryce Salvador that they felt that there was no penalty due to Santini’s second foot being in the air at the time he touched the puck. Good break for the Devils there.

The first goal of the game did not occur until the 18:34 mark of the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. On the play, Andy Greene’s stick broke and Bergeron was all alone on the side of the Devils’ net after a missed assignment by Damon Severson. Pastrnak made a nice pass to Bergeron and he potted it for the first goal of night. It was 1-0 Bruins.

That line of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron would give the Devils fits all night. In fact, Bergeron was named the game’s second star while Pastrnak was the first star of the night. They would factor into the second goal of the night when the Bruins won a faceoff deep in the New Jersey zone at 12:58. Bergeron won the faceoff to Marchand who feathered a nice pass to Pastrnak set up in front of the net. That made it 2-0 Boston.

The Devils finally got on the board a little less than two minutes later at 14:51 when Drew Stafford scored. Pavel Zacha sold a shot at the top of the far faceoff circle and then made a perfect pass to Stafford at the near faceoff dot. Rask was down and Stafford tapped it in to give the Devils a goal, cutting the B’s lead in half to 2-1 and ending Rask’s shutout streak that he had going at 101:49.

But that was it for the Devils’ offense on the night.

Danton Heinen scored 29 seconds into the third frame from Sean Kuraly off of a two-on-one. That made it 3-1 Bruins and largely broke the Devils’ collective backs.

Cory was pulled with about two minutes remaining in the game and Boston took advantage with Bergeron scoring into the empty net. Marchand and David Krejci had the assists on that one. That goal came at 18:42 of the third and made it 4-1 Boston to ice the game.

But the Bruins were not done. At the 19:38 mark of the third, David Backes, cutting by Schneider’s crease, redirected a Noel Acciari shot by the Devils netminder to give us our final of 5-1.

The Devils ended the night being out shot 27-22 and losing in the faceoff circle with Boston winning 53-percent of the game’s draws. New Jersey did have more hits at 26 to the Bruins’ 14 and more blocked shots at 15 to Boston’s seven. However in giveaways, the Devils had nine while the Bruins had only one.

Individually, Severson led all skaters in ice time with 23:29 (53 seconds on the power play and 4:44 on the penalty kill) while Joey Anderson led the forwards with 18:11 (2:29 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Eric Tangradi, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila and Santini who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino and McLeod with five each. Blocked shots were led by Greene with five as he hones in on the Devils single season record for that stat. Takeaways were led by Anderson with two.

Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as they take on the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday at 1 PM. I will be attending this game live and, as such, my report will be up a little bit later. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment. They are always appreciated.

Devils Fall at Home to Caps

The Devils returned home from their Western trip that was actually pretty successful, all things considered. Unfortunately, that bit of success did not continue at Prudential Center last night as the Devils lost to the Washington Capitals 4-1. With that win, Washington retook first place in the Metro Division from the Islanders.

The game was a 7:30 PM ET start due to it being an NBCSN game and the crowd in attendance at The Rock was pretty good considering it was a Tuesday night game with the Devils long since eliminated from playoff contention.

The Devils lineup stayed largely the same from Colorado. Colton White slotted out on defense while Egor Yakovlev was back in the lineup after missing some games due to injury.

In goal, the Devils continued to share duties with Mackenzie Blackwood getting the nod last night. He made 18 saves on 22 Capitals shots for an .818 save percentage on the evening. Facing him was the Caps’ backup, Pheonix Copley who stopped 20 of 21 Devils shots for a .952 save percentage. Blackwood was forced to make some spectacular saves at times, including a phenomenal one about midway through the third period where he got some help from the Devils’ defense that needs to be seen to be believed. Copley, however, would go on to be named the game’s third star.

Neither team got much time on the power play or scored. For the Devils, this was a success as they kept the powerful Capitals power play to 0-for-1 with no shots. The Devils were kept 0-for-2 with two power play shots. Neither team registered a shorthanded shot.

Andre Burkovsky got the scoring kicked off for Washington just 2:52 into the game. Nic Dowd and Brett Connolly got the assists as Connolly was on his way to a two point (one goal, one assist) night and the first star of the game. That goal made it 1-0 Caps.

But the Devils would give some hope. With exactly one second remaining in the first period, at 19:59, Kenny Agostino fired a shot through a maze of players that found the back of the net. His seeing-eye shot tied things at one going into the first intermission and came unassisted.

But things fell apart a little for the Devils in the second period. Not quite the debacle third period in Calgary, but not great either. Connolly got his 20th of the year from Christian Djoos and Carl Hagelin at 5:57 into the second frame. That proved the game winner as it gave Washington the 2-1 lead.

At 12:16, Egeny Kuznetsov would score from Jakub Vrana to make it 3-1. Kuznetsov was named the game’s second star for the goal.

The Caps would notch another one as Tom Wilson scored 1:14 later at 13:28 from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. This gave us our final of 4-1, handing the Devils their second straight loss.

The Devils were out shot in a low-shot game, 22-21 and had more giveaways to a stingy Caps team, six to Washington’s one. The Capitals also blocked more shots at eight to the Devils’ six. The Devils were pretty dominate in the faceoff circle, winning 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs, however and out hit the Caps 21-15.

Connor Carrick led all Devils skaters with 21:05 of ice time (2:31 on the power play) while Stefan Noesen led the forwards with 20:55 (nine seconds of PP time). Agostino led in shots on goal for the Devils with four while Steven Santini led in blocked shots with three. Hits were led by Kurtis Gabriel with five and takeaways by Kevin Rooney, Andy Greene and Santini with two each.

Next up, the Devils continue their recent homestand by taking on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7 PM. This will be yet another tough test against a playoff-bound foe. We will have coverage here for you. In the meantime please feel free to leave a comment below if you would like, as they are always appreciated.

Devils’ Win Streak Comes to End, Blanked by Avs

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! First off, sorry this is a little bit late. I had a family gathering to attend, but we did watch the game and so I have enough info to report on.

The Devils pregame was delayed by about ten minutes because of the Knicks-Lakers game being shown with alternate commentary on MSG+. This is kind of perplexing when you figure that MSG2 was just sitting there with nothing on it while they essentially showed the Knicks game on both MSG and MSG+. But that’s about par for the course with this network.

Anyway, that aside, the Devils were finishing up their road trip in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Devils were trying to string together three wins for the first time in the 2019 calendar year. They last did it from December 27 to 31, 2018. They just notched their tenth road win of the season on Friday in Vancouver, which just shows how bad the Devils have been on the road this season.

The Avalanche came away with the 3-0 win, further keeping them in the playoff race and continuing the Devils’ road woes.

The lineup stayed largely the same for New Jersey with John Quenneville missing a second straight game with an upper body injury. Kurtis Gabriel was out on defense with Colton White playing in his second NHL game.

It was back to Cory Schneider for the Devils. He stopped 31 of 33 Colorado shots against for a .939 save percentage on the afternoon. Philipp Grubauer was in for the Avs and he stopped all 22 Devils shots that made it through to him.

On special teams, the Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play with seven shots for. The Avalanche were 0-for-3 with four shots. They also notched three shorthanded shots, all of which Cory got.

The bulk of the scoring came in the second with Tyson Barrie scoring two for the Avs. His first came at 2:22 into the second when Nathan MacKinnon skated the puck through three Devils players and got it Barrie, who was able to fire it by Cory to make it 1-0 Colorado. Sven Andrighetto had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Avs’ second and, in fact, the Avs’ second came at the 11:05 mark of the second when Barrie’s shot bounced off of his teammate and former Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot’s leg, then rebounded off of Travis Zajac’s leg and in past Cory. This made it 2-0 Avs and Andrighetto had the lone assist.

The Devils pulled Schneider with about 2:33 left in the game and Colorado would add an empty netter off of the stick of MacKinnon (unassisted) at 18:26. That iced the game for the Avalanche and gave us our final of 3-0.

WIth that empty netter, the Devils were out shot 34-22. They won 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but were out hit (22-21) and had less blocked shots (17-15) than the Avs. They did have less giveaways at five to the Avalanche’s 14.

Individual stats saw Damon Severson lead in time on ice with 24:28 (5:01 on the power play and 4:42 shorthanded). Zajac led in forwards’ ice time with 19:01 (4:25 on the PP and 2:53 killing penalties). Severson also led in shots on goal with five, Stefan Noesen led in hits with three, Steven Santini led in blocked shots with three and Michael McLeod and Connor Carrick each led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, the Devils come back east and take on the Capitals at home on Tuesday. That game is at 7:30 PM ET as it is on NBCSN. I will be attending live and will be getting the report up a little bit later. In the meantime, I hope everyone had a very happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t forget to leave a comment if you wish to.

Charlottetown Defeats Halifax in CHL Thriller

The CHL Saturday Showcase on Sportsnet in Canada was simulcast on the NHL Network here in the US and it featured a Devils’ prospect and was just a really good game to boot. It featured Xavier Bernard (the aforementioned Devils prospect) and the Charlottetown Islanders against the Halifax Mooseheads from the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

It was the final day of the QMJHL season and Halifax had already clinched up the Maritimes Division title. They were looking to gain control of the Eastern Conference and home ice throughout the conference portion of the playoffs at least. Charlottetown was looking to play spoiler and secure their seeding in the playoffs as well. In the end, the Mooseheads clinched first place in the East even in a shootout loss due to other circumstances and the Islanders, with their win, sealed up fourth place for the playoffs.

The Mooseheads jumped out to the early first period lead when Keith Getson scored at 1:54 and Justin Barron scored at 4-on-4 at 7:30. Things stayed this way until the second period when Charlottetown’s Hunter Drew scored at 5:36 of the second and Nikita Alexandrov scored at 16:02 of the same frame. Going into the second intermission, the game was suddenly tied up at two and things were getting dramatic.

Following an overtime period that saw no scoring, we were off to a shootout. Islanders’ goalie Matthew Welsh turned aside all three Halifax shooters while the Mooseheads’ Alexis Gravel let in only one, a shot by Daniel Hardie in the first round. With that, Charlottetown was your winner, 3-2.

Welsh made 31 saves on 33 Halifax shots while Gravel stopped 32 of 34 Islander shots against.

As for Bernard, his stat line read that he was a minus-1 plus/minus, had one shot on goal (and no dangerous scoring chances) as well as four hits. He also had four penalty minutes – a roughing minor in the first period and a matching roughing minor in the third period along with Halifax’s Joel Bishop. The third period minor along with a Lukas Cormier hooking penalty had actually put the Mooseheads on the power play heading into the OT period. No harm, no foul though as Halifax obviously did not score and Charlottetown eventually won the game.

Overall, it was an exciting game and we will try to get as much coverage up of the various CHL playoff series involving Devils prospects as we can in the coming weeks.

Devils Rally Back to Beat Canucks in Shootout

If the Devils did nothing else tonight, they showed heart. The team was officially eliminated from qualifying from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs earlier today when the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Yet the Devils did not just roll over for the Vancouver Canucks. They went down early but fought back to win 3-2 in a shootout.

This was the final stop on the team’s Western Canada trip and they were looking for a winning record, having lost to Calgary and defeated Edmonton. The Devils last three games prior to the one in Vancouver have been good: they have gone 2-for-8 on the power play over those games and have scored a total of 12 goals – ten of those coming in the last two games. Their offense has really picked up a little bit and that is always a good thing.

The roster only saw one change toinght, as John Quenneville (who scored a goal in the Edmonton win) was out and Eric Tangradi slotted back in up front. He played on the fourth line centered by Michael McLeod and Kurtis Gabriel along the right wing.

The goaltending matchup saw Mackenzie Blackwood continue to go back-and-forth with Cory Schneider. He was up tonight and made 25 saves on 27 Canucks shots for a .926 save percentage. In the shootout, he only gave up one goal in seven rounds and it was a real beauty from a very talented Elias Pettersson. This was the bounce back game that Blackwood needed after the nine-goals-against debacle that was the Calgary outing.

Opposing him was Jacob Markstrom, who stopped 31 of 33 Devils shots for a .939 save percentage on the night. He seemed unbeatable early in the game, but the Devils were able to solve him eventually and ended up with the win.

On special teams, the Devils were 0-for-1 with their only chance coming early in the first period. They did, however, have three shots on that power play, but did not score. They also registered a shorthanded shot. The Canucks were 1-for-5 with three shots on the power play as well.

Vancouver would go down a defenseman early when Christopher Tanev was hurt blocking a Kyle Palmieri shot early in the game. He only played 3:07 and with him out, the Canucks were playing the majority of the game with only five d-men.

After a scoreless first period, rookie phenom Pettersson (who would end up being named the game’s first star) got the goal scoring going when he scored on the power play 3:18 into the second period. Drew Stafford was called for tripping Alexander Edler at 2:31 and Vancouver had the man advantage. Brock Boeser was able to swing the puck around to Pettersson who just snapped a shot off upstairs over Blackwood’s glove hand. Bo Horvat had the secondary assist and it was 1-0 Canucks.

A really strange one doubled up the Vancouver lead 1:42 into the third period. Tanner Pearson took a quick shot from just inside the Devils’ blue line that was headed wide of net. Blackwood tried to settle it and it redirected off of his stick blade and into the goal behind him. Horvat had the lone assist.

But from there, the Devils were on the comeback trail. First, Blake Coleman was stopped by Markstrom on a shorthanded breakaway early in the third period. That one, although Coleman could not finish, seemed to wake the Devils squad up.

At 5:41, Kenny Agostino went low-to-high to Connor Carrick at the point. He fired and Kevin Rooney tipped the shot by Markstrom to make it 2-1 Vancouver. The Devils had finally solved the Canucks’ goalie and that would set things in motion.

At the 13:34 mark of the third frame, Tangradi made a nice drop pass to Will Butcher at the point. Butcher let off a shot that Markstrom made the initial save on. Both Tangradi and Stefan Noesen were collapsing down low and Tangradi pounced on the rebound, making a nice pass to Noesen near the side of the crease. Noesen put it home and the game was tied. You could hear a pin drop at the Rogers Arena as the place was just deflated.

Noesen, who had a career-high seven shots on goal to go along with that goal, was named the game’s second star. Markstrom was the third star.

Overtime was a back-and-forth affair with Vancouver having a 3-on-1 odd man rush at one point late in the extra session. They could not get one past Blackwood and we were off to a shootout.

Pettersson scored on the Canucks’ first try, making a nice move around Blackwood and putting the puck in with a one-handed backhand shot. That put Vancouver up, but that was all Blackwood would give them.

Palmieri finished out the first round for New Jersey and he was stopped with a right pad save by Markstrom. In the second round, Boeser hit the post and Stafford banked one in off the back post past Markstrom to tie the shootout at one. In the third round, Tanner Pearson hit the post again for Vancouver and Coleman lost control of the puck. In the fourth round, Alexander Edler was stopped by Blackwood and Agostino hit the side of the net. The fifth round saw Horvat’s shot saved by Blackwood while Noesen’s shot was saved. That took us to round six where Nikolay Goldobin also hit the outside of the net for the Canucks and Travis Zajac’s shot fluttered over the net as Markstrom got his right pad on it.

Finally in the seventh round, Markus Granlund had his shot stopped by Blackwood, but Damon Severson beat Markstrom with a shot upstairs that he released while falling down. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. The Devils won 3-2 in a shootout.

New Jersey out shot the Canucks 33-27 and won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They out hit Vancouver by ten 26-16. Vancouver blocked more shots at 17-13 but the Devils had less giveaways at five to the Canucks’ eight.

Individually, Severson led in ice time with 26:15 (1:05 on the PP and 6:59 on the PK) while Zajac led the forwards with 20:51 (54 seconds on the man advantage and 5:18 shorthanded). As mentioned, Noesen had a career-high seven shots to lead in that category. He also led in hits with five. Coleman and Steven Santini led in blocked shots with three each. Takeaways were led by Zajac with three.

Next up, the Devils will come back to the States, but stay on the road. They travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, at 3 PM ET. We will have coverage for you here and do not hesitate to leave a comment if you wish, it is always appreciated.

Devils Bounce Back With Victory in Edmonton

Following yesterday’s abomination of a third period in Calgary, the Devils were looking to make a better statement a few miles north in Edmonton. And while the Flames are a team that is safely in a playoff position, the Oilers are at the other end of the spectrum: fighting for their playoff lives. The Devils came in to Rogers Place and played spoiler, defeating the Oilers 6-3. That snapped the Devils’ seven game winless streak over which they were 0-6-1.

But first, a few roster changes and a debut to note. Nick Lappin and Eric Tangradi were out up front while Egor Yakovlev was out on the blue line. Taking Yakovlev’s place on the roster tonight was 21-year-old Colton White. White was paired with Steven Santini and wore number 68. He became the second player in Devils history to wear that number following Jaromir Jagr.

In goal, Cory Schneider once again alternated with Mackenzie Blackwood. Schneider played a good game, making 36 saves on 39 Oilers shots for a .923 save percentage on the night. For Edmonton, Mikko Koskinen got the start, stopping just 14 of 18 for a .778 save percentage. He did not have what the Oilers needed tonight and was pulled midway through the second period in favor of Edison, New Jersey native Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz, a former Flyer picked up in a trade just before the deadline for Cam Talbot, grew up a Marty Brodeur and Devils fan and NBCSN actually showed a photo of him as a young child dressed in Devils gear. Anyway, he stopped 15 of 17 shots against for an .882 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils had a good night. They went 2-for-4 on the power play with five shots total and had two shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on. Edmonton was 1-for-5 on the power play with a huge nine shots and had one shorthanded shot.

To the action as the game began almost immediately with a great scrap 3:09 in. Kurtis Gabriel was chirping at Milan Lucic right from the opening faceoff and finally goaded him into a fight. If you are into the fighting, you might want to check this one out on YouTube or the NHL website. The two fought to a draw and threw some haymakers during the bout. Lucic was pretty gassed by the end, but Gabriel really held his own.

The first goal of the game was scored by Kenny Agostino and it was an odd one. Andy Greene sent the puck up the boards and Agostino grabbed the pass, cut in on Koskinen and the puck kind of rolled up the Edmonton goaltender’s shoulder, over and in to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. That goal came at 7:34, just as a penalty to White was expiring (so it was not shorthanded) off assists to Greene and Kevin Rooney.

The Oilers would tie the game up at the 9:37 mark when Sam Gagner redirected a shot in that was first redirected off the leg of Will Butcher. It was another weird goal, but it counted the same. Jujhar Khaira and Matt Benning had the assists on that one.

Edmonton would then grab the lead later in the first when Alex Chiasson scored on the power play. Drew Stafford was called for tripping Khaira and the Oilers had the man advantage. At 14:22, the Oilers won a 50/50 puck battle and Connor McDavid slipped a pass to Chiasson who tipped it by Cory to make it 2-1 Oilers. Oscar Klefbom had the other assist on the goal.

But the Devils would answer back with a PPG of their own with 19 seconds remaining in the first frame. Chiasson went off for slashing at 19:08 and at 19:41, Damon Severson made a pass from the point to Travis Zajac down low. Zajac made a nice move around Koskinen to knot things at two going into the second period.

The memory of last night’s third period fresh in their minds, the Devils had an offensive outburst of their own in the second period tonight. It began on the power play when Klefbom went off for holding the stick at 5:16. At the 6:23 mark on that man advantage, the Devils caught Edmonton in a bad change as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was unable to get on the ice while the Devils rushed up. Severson then wristed the puck by Koskinen. Stafford and Connor Carrick had the assists. The Devils now had the 3-2 lead and would not look back.

At 12:49, Edmonton-native John Quenneville beat Koskinen cleanly with a slap shot off assists from Gabriel and Butcher. It was this goal that gave New Jersey a 4-2 lead and chased Koskinen in favor of Stolarz.

A few minutes later at 16:32, Rooney would find the back of the net when Agostino recovered the puck in the neutral zone and dropped a pass for Rooney just inside the Oilers’ blue line. Rooney then wristed a shot by Stolarz that gave the Devils a 5-2 lead. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist.

The Devils were seemingly rolling until 19:19 of the second period when McDavid passed to Benning, who was camped out at the near faceoff dot. He fired a one-timer that beat Cory through a screen. Andrej Sekera had the secondary assist. For McDavid, the primary assist was his 100th point of the season. That meant that this was the third straight season the Oiler superstar had recorded at least 100 points.

But it was the Devils who got the win and possibly spoiled Edmonton’s higher hopes. The icing of the game came when the Devils were shorthanded in the third period. Will Butcher had inadvertently cleared the puck over the glass in the Devils’ defensive zone, resulting in a delay of game penalty, putting the Devils down a man at 11:39. At 12:06, Andy Greene lofted the puck up on a soft clear. He found Blake Coleman streaking up the left side and Coleman grabbed it, cut in all alone on Stolarz, beating him five-hole with a backhand. It was a nice goal and gave us our final of 6-3 Devils.

Agostino, with a goal and an assist, would be named the game’s first star. Severson, also with a goal and an assist, was the second star. McDavid, with two assists and the milestone of 100 points for the year, was the game’s third star.

The Devils were out shot on the night 39 to 35, but won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Oilers also out hit the Devils 31-25 and had more giveaways at 11 to the Devils’ seven. The Devils had more blocked shots (23-9).

Ice time-wise, Severson once again led all Devils skaters with 23:51 (2:52 on the power play and 5:11 shorthanded). Blake Pietila, benefiting from the young guys getting auditions, led the forwards with 18:37 (56 seconds on the PP/59 seconds on the PK). Severson led in shots on goal with four, Gabriel and Santini led in hits with four each, Greene led in blocks with seven and Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod, Pietila, Greene and Butcher all had one takeaway to lead in that category.

Next up for the Devils, it’s off to Vancouver on Friday. That game is a 10 PM ET puck drop and we will have that for you right here. That game is back on the MSG Networks locally. In the meantime, please feel free to leave any comments below as we always appreciate them.

Flames Explode, Blow Devils Out 9-4

The Devils traveled to the Saddledome to take on Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames and it was business as usual for Calgary. They absolutely destroyed the Devils tonight, scoring seemingly at will in the third period as they trounced New Jersey 9-4. This included a Gaudreau hat trick that helped seal the deal.

Firstly, a bit of housekeeping as I forgot to mention that Travis Zajac’s assist on Blake Coleman’s goal the other night at the Rangers was his 500th NHL point, all with the Devils. He becomes the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish this feat, joining Patrik Elias, John MacLean and Kirk Muller. Congratulations to Travis Zajac on this great milestone.

On the injury/call up front, Miles Wood (fractured ankle) joined the team on the western trip and skated with them this morning. John Quenneville also joined the team out west. Kevin Rooney returned from illness tonight and played while Kurtis Gabriel was out with an illness. Also, defenseman Colton White was recalled from AHL Binghamton. He was a healthy scratch tonight but will likely make his NHL debut sometime during the road trip.

In goal, the Devils were back with Mackenzie Blackwood. He stopped 30 of 39 shots against for a dismal .769 save percentage on the evening. Calgary countered with David Rittich who made 22 saves on 26 Devils shots against for an .846 save percentage.

Special teams did not feature many power plays (only three total in the game) but did feature a shorthanded goal by the Devils and a penalty shot goal as one of Gaudreau’s three. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play without registering a power play shot. They did have two shorthanded shots, however. The Flames were 0-for-1 on the power play with no shots either on the power play or penalty kill.

And now to the madness. Gaudreau got his first of the night just 5:05 into the game when Elias Lindholm made a nice pass to Sean Monahan through the neutral zone. He flipped it up to Gaudreau who cut in to beat Blackwood. It was 1-0 Calgary very quickly, but it would not stay that way for long. That goal extended Gaudreau’s point scoring streak against the Devils to six games (he had two goals and seven assists in the last five games against New Jersey coming into tonight).

At the 16:03 mark of the first, Blake Coleman blocked a shot inside the Devils’ blue line and was off on a 2-on-0 with Kyle Palmieri. Coleman elected to shoot, going backhand on Rittich to tie the game at one. That was Coleman’s 20th of the season.

It only took over two minutes for the Devils to grab the lead. At 18:18, Damon Severson threw a puck at the net and Palmieri was cutting by. He tipped it by Rittich with one hand on his stick, backhanded. It was a nice play and put the Devils up 2-1.

The Devils actually continued their bombardment of the Flames in the second period when Kenny Agostino scored 54 seconds into that frame. Connor Carrick went D to D with Will Butcher who then made a nice pass to Agostino. Agostino split the Calgary defense and scored. That made it 3-1 Devils.

But Calgary would rush right back. At 7:17 of the second, Mark Giordano made a nice blind backhand pass from behind the net to Sam Bennett who potted the puck to make it 3-2 Devils. Derek Ryan had the secondary assist on the goal.

Almost three minutes later, at 10:13, Elias Lindholm leveled things off at three. While battling with Sean Monahan behind the net, Andy Greene lost his stick, which allowed Monahan to make a pass to Lindholm on the doorstep. Blackwood made the initial save but could not get the rebound and the Flames had tied it. Gaudreau had the secondary assist.

But New Jersey would retake the lead again when Zajac scored shorthanded. The Devils were killing off a Stefan Noesen slashing penalty when, at 17:49 of the second, Greene made a clearing attempt/pass to Coleman who broke in with Zajac on a 2-on-1. Zajac took the pass and he sniped one short side to make it 4-3 Devils. Yes, the Devils actually had a one goal lead heading into the third period of this game.

But the third period would be a debacle from the Devils’ perspective. Calgary scored six unanswered (according to Steve Cangialosi, this was the first time the Devils had given up six in a period since a game back in 1989 when they endured a first period barrage by the Hartford Whalers). It began 41 seconds in and did not let up until there was 1:03 remaining in the game.

Derek Ryan scored that first goal when his shot was tipped by Rooney and fluttered in over Blackwood’s shoulder. Bennett and Giordano had the assists on the goal that would knot things at four.

The Flames took the lead for good at the 1:01 mark when Severson hauled down Gaudreau on a breakaway and Gaudreau was awarded a penalty shot. He snapped it by Blackwood’s stick side to make it 5-4. Calgary had scored two goals 20 seconds apart, but they were just getting warmed up.

Ryan scored his second of the game off of a 2-on-1 with Gaudreau. Blackwood came out and challenged Gaudreau, as you have to respect his shot, he passed to Ryan who was standing right behind Blackwood on the doorstep. Lindholm had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 6-4 Calgary.

At 12:01, Gaudreau finished off the hatty when Sean Monahan drew three Devils to him and he passed to Gaudreau who was all alone, cutting behind the Devils’ defense. That made it 7-4 and the rout was on. Rasmus Andersson had the secondary assist. According to a graphic put up by MSG, this was Gaudreau’s fifth hat trick of his career and his first since December 27 versus the Jets.

But he wasn’t done yet. Gaudreau would connect with Monahan all alone on the side of the Devils net and Monahan would score on the layup at 18:41. Lindholm had the secondary assist. So, for those scoring at home, that is four points (a goal and three assists) for Lindholm, four points for Monahan (a goal and three assists) and six points (three goals, three assists) for Gaudreau. According to Cangialosi on the post game show, Gaudreau became the 11th player in Flames history to collect six points in a game and the first since Al MacInnis did it in 1994. Not bad for a night’s work.

Matthew Tkachuk put the finishing touches on the Flames’ win when he scored from Oscar Fantenberg and Mikael Backlund at 18:57 to make it 9-4, our final. The nine goals surrendered by New Jersey was their highest such total of the season so far.

The Devils were out shot by Calgary, 39-26. The Flames won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but the Devils did have 27 hits to the Flames’ 14 and 19 blocked shots to the Flames’ seven. The Devils also had less giveaways at 18 to Calgary’s 20.

Individually, Connor Carrick led the skaters in ice time with 22:16 (2:13 on the PP/nine seconds on the PK) while Drew Stafford actually led the forwards with 17:56 TOI (including 2:36 on the power play). Shots were led by Coleman, Noesen and Will Butcher with three each while Noesen doled out six hits to lead that category. Greene had five blocked shots, leading in that category and takeaways were led by Palmieri, Noesen, Joey Anderson, Rooney, Steven Santini and Severson with one each.

Next up, the Devils have a quick turnaround. They travel to northern Alberta to Edmonton to take on the Oilers tomorrow in a game being televised by NBCSN on Wednesday Night Hockey. Puck drop for that one is 9:30 PM ET and we will have coverage for you right here shortly afterwards. In the meantime, please feel free to comment below.

Devils Blow Second Period Lead, Fall to Rangers

The Devils had not lost a game when leading after two periods since before John Hynes was named head coach. According to MSG Networks, the last time it happened was March 14, 2014 when it occurred against the Florida Panthers.

But there’s a first time for everything and tonight was the first time it happened in the Hynes Era. The Devils led 2-1 after two periods of play and ended up losing the game 4-2 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight.

Yet more roster turnover as we begin and the Devils take more lumps. Eric Tangradi and Brandon Gignac were recalled from AHL Binghamton as John Quenneville and Stefan Noesen were both out with upper body injuries tonight. For Tangradi, it was his Devils debut as he had last played in the NHL in the 2016-17 season. For Gignac, it was the youngster’s NHL debut. Tangradi played left wing on the third line while Gignac skated on the third line also on the left side.

The goaltending matchup featured the veterans rathers than the respective team’s young goalies. Cory Schneider went for the Devils, playing very well and stopping 37 of 40 shots against for a .925 save percentage on the night. Facing him was the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who recently joined Marty Brodeur as a NHL goalie to play 800 games for one team. He made 22 saves on 24 shots for a .917 save percentage.

A bright spot, besides Cory Schneider, for the Devils was their power play. They finally snapped their 10 game power play drought when Will Butcher had a shot from the point tipped in by Blake Coleman with 11 seconds remaining in the first period. That one was on the power play and gave the Devils a 2-0 lead at the time. That was one of five power play shots. The Devils also had four shorthanded shots. The Devils were 1-for-2 on the power play. As for the Rangers, they were 0-for-5 as the Devils’ penalty kill was on point. New York ended up with seven shots on the man advantage but could not get one by Cory.

The Devils were winless in five while the Rangers were winless in six. Something had to give. New Jersey had also been shut out in two of their last three.

But a shut out was made impossible at 16:26 when Damon Severson blasted a shot by Lundqvist after he took a pass from Kenny Agostino in the first period. Agostino had curled back along the half wall to buy time and dished to Severson at the point. That made it 1-0 Devils. Michael McLeod had the secondary assist (his first NHL point – congratulations to him).

The Devils had a rare 4-on-3 power play for 24 seconds when the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich was called for tripping Egor Yakovlev and Yakovlev was nabbed for embellishment, which made it a 4-on-4 at 17:37 of the first. New York’s Libor Hajek then took a high-sticking penalty on Agostino to put the Devils up 4-on-3 at 19:08. The first two penalties expired, making it a regular 5-on-4 power play for the Devils and that is when Coleman scored his goal to make it 2-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist on Coleman’s goal, Butcher had the primary.

But from there, the Devils would almost run out of gas, giving up four straight to the Rangers. It began late in the second frame, at 18:22, when Ryan Strome redirected a Kevin Shattenkirk shot by Cory that just trickled through his legs. Vladislav Namestnikov had the secondary assist as the game was now 2-1 Devils.

The Rangers’ second goal came just 1:29 into the third period off the stick of Hajek (his first NHL goal) and occurred when the Devils were unable to clear the puck from their own zone. Hajek then took a pass from Chris Kreider and snapped a wrist shot over Schneider’s shoulder to make it all even. Strome had the other assist on the goal.

New York took the lead for the first time at the 13:25 mark of the third when Namestnikov set up shop at the top of the near faceoff circle and scored on a one-timer off of a pass from Mika Zibanejad. Brady Skjei had the secondary.

Strome, who would go on to be named the game’s first star with three points, scored into an empty net when Schneider was pulled with about 1:15 left in regulation. Strome got assists from Namestnikov (who also had three points on the night) and emerging Devil killer Zibanejad. That made it 4-2 Rangers, which was our final.

The Devils had been 20-0-3 this season alone when leading after two periods according to Steve Cangialosi. That streak was now ended as the Rangers came away with the victory.

The Devils were out shot 41 to 24, as Cory, again, played extremely well. The Rangers won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs but the Devils out hit them 39 to 26. The Devils also led in blocked shots with 12 to New York’s nine. The Rangers also had 15 giveaways to the Devils’ 11.

Severson led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 23:45 (including 1:48 on the power play and 5:31 on the PK) while Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 21:12 (1:25 on the PP and 3:28 on the PK). Shots were led by Palmieri, Tangradi, Blake Pietila, and Severson who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino with five. Blocks by Zajac, Tangradi, Steven Santini and Yakovlev with two each. Takeaways were led by Nick Lappin, Coleman, Tangradi, Joey Anderson and Connor Carrick with one apiece.

Gignac’s stat line read: a minus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal, one block and two giveaways all in 9:04 of TOI in his debut game.

Next up, the real meat of the Devils’ road trip begins. They are off to Calgary to take on the Flames on Tuesday. Puck drop for that game is 9 PM Eastern and we will have a write-up for you then. Until then, please leave a comment if you like and have a great rest of the weekend.

Devils Blanked in Washington

The Devils traveled down to DC to take on the Stanley Cup champs and it did not go entirely as you would imagine. The largely depleted Devils, consisting of many young players from their AHL club, hung in there against the Capitals and played well. Unfortunately, they did not get the W as they were shut out 3-0.

Offensively, the Devils were overmatched. Caps’ goalie Braden Holtby was pretty good tonight and confounded the Devils all night. But on the defensive side of the puck, including at goaltender, the Devils were strong and kept the game close for most of the night.

The Devils got some reinforcements back in Kyle Palmieri and John Quenneville, who were both injured four games ago against Montreal. The bad news is that they lost Jesper Bratt and the way coach John Hynes was talking, it could be for the rest of the year. He is week-to-week and Hynes said that he does not see him playing a game again this season. As for tonight, Sami Vatanen remained out and Kevin Rooney was out tonight as a scratch.

The Devils were beginning a six-game long road trip that will take them up the East Coast and then to Western Canada and concludes in Denver. Tonight they gave Mackenzie Blackwood a shot on the first half of a back-to-back (New Jersey is at Madison Square Garden tomorrow to take on the Rangers). Blackwood stopped 33 of the 35 Washington shots that he faced for a .943 save percentage on the night. Facing him was one of the elite goalies in the NHL right now, Braden Holtby. Holtby was equal to all 25 of the Devils’ shots in getting the shutout and taking home the first star honors. Blackwood was named the third star of the night while Andre Burakovsky of the Capitals, who had the game winner for them, was the second star.

One developing story around the Devils is their lack of attack on the power play. They went 0-for-6 tonight with six shots on goal. They are now 0-for-24 over the last nine games on the PP according to Steve Cangialosi of MSG Networks. The Caps were 1-for-5 with nine shots on Blackwood. They also had two shorthanded shots to go with that.

One cool note is that the Devils top line tonight saw Travis Zajac centering two Jersey boys in Palmieri and Kenny Agostino.

The tone for the Devils’ night was set early. Stefan Noesen had a glorious chance right in front of the Washington net with tons of time. Holtby stopped both of his shots. Following that, at the 2:40 mark, Burakovsky scored his game winner on a 3-on-2 odd man rush with Michal Kempny and Travis Boyd. They went tic-tac-toe to Burakovsky backdoor and he scored. It was the Caps’ first shot of the game. The net actually became dislodged after the goal was scored as Blackwood knocked it off of its moorings.

Andy Greene, who had a fantastic game overall, would hit the post midway through the first period off of a flurry of Devils shots. Greene had a monster game defensively, helping to kill off a 5-on-3 Capitals power play in the middle part of the first frame.

Blackwood showed his stuff late in the second period when he got his right pad on an Alex Ovechkin shot point blank. Ovechkin got the puck off of a Devils defensive zone turnover and Blackwood absolutely robbed one of the game’s best players.

Washington scored their second goal at the 4:35 mark of the third period while on the power play. Agostino had gone off for tripping and John Carlson slap passed the puck to Nicklas Backstrom, who was hiding backdoor by the Devils’ net and he used his backhand to tip the puck by Blackwood and make it 2-0 Caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov had the secondary assist.

The Devils would be on the power play to finish the game when Washington’s TJ Oshie was called for tripping Connor Carrick at 18:18. New Jersey would pull Blackwood to get a 6-on-4 advantage but Lars Eller would strip the puck at the Capitals’ blue line and score unassisted into the empty net. That gave us our final of 3-0. It also gave the Caps an even strength goal, a power play goal and a shorthanded goal to notch their three in the game.

The Caps ended up out shooting the Devils 36 to 25. Both teams split the game’s faceoffs 50/50. The Devils out hit Washington 23-16. The Capitals had 20 blocked shots to the Devils’ 16 and Washington had 13 giveaways to New Jersey’s eight.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils’ skaters with 24:02 of ice time (including 7:55 on the PP and 4:31 on the PK). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 23:36 (7:23 on the power play and 3:35 shorthanded). Shots on goal were led by Blake Coleman with five, hits by Agostino with six, blocks by Blake Pietila and Greene who both had three and takeaways by Nick Lappin, Zajac, Michael McLeod, Quenneville, Pietila and Carrick who all had one.

Next up, it’s a quick turnaround as the Devils head back north to take on the Rangers in Manhattan tomorrow night at 7 PM. The Devils will try to end their five game winless streak against their fiercest rivals and we will have a write-up right here for you. Do not forget to leave a comment if you wish, as they are always appreciated.