Blackwood Records Second Straight Shutout, Devils Beat Canucks 4-0

Two days ago, Mackenzie Blackwood got his first NHL shutout. He became the sixth Devils rookie goalie to record a shutout joining the likes of Sean Burke and Martin Brodeur (the only two younger goalies to do it, respectively). Today, he upped the ante, earning his second consecutive shutout and in doing so becoming the first Devils goalie to do so since Marty Brodeur in April of 2010 and the first ever Devils rookie to record back-to-back shutouts. He also became the first NHL rookie goalie to turn this feat since John Gibson on December 29 and 31, 2015 – three years to the exact days. His shutout streak now stands at 125:55 as the Devils notched the 4-0 win at Prudential Center over the Vancouver Canucks.

And with all of that, the Devils have won three straight for the first time since the first three games of the season.

On this New Year’s Eve, Vancouver came in having gathered 15 points in their last ten games, going 7-2-1. The Devils stopped them cold, weathering a storm in the second period where the Canucks dominated. It was a good game for New Jersey and one where ten different Devils recorded points.

The Devils were still without Taylor Hall (day-to-day, lower body) and Marcus Johansson (who is skating but remains on injured reserve). The team also made the decision to assign defenseman Egor Yakovlev to Binghamton of the AHL. Mirco Mueller was the lone healthy scratch for the Devils.

As for the goaltending matchup, Blackwood made his third consecutive start for the Devils after it was announced earlier today that he was the NHL’s third star of the week for the week ending yesterday. He was also this game’s first star come the end of the night. He saw 25 Vancouver shots and turned them all aside. Opposing him was Anders Nilsson. He made 19 saves on 23 Devils shots.

While the big story for the Devils has been goaltending, there was another aspect of their game that, not coincidentally since goaltending plays a big part in it, has been great of late. That is their penalty killing. They held the Canucks 0-for-4 on the man advantage with just three shots. The Devils themselves went 2-for-3 with five power play shots and also added two shorthanded shots.

The Devils’ goals came in bunches: two in the first period and two in the third. The first goal was scored 12:03 into the game by Brian Boyle from Drew Stafford and Brett Seney. It happened when Boyle found Stafford’s rebound on the doorstep and buried it five-hole to record his tenth of the season for the game winner. It was 1-0 Devils and that was all they needed.

It became 2-0 on the power play when Miles Wood scored on the power play at 18:12 of the first from Sami Vatanen and Jesper Bratt. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat went off for tripping Seney and the Devils had their first power play opportunity of the afternoon. Bratt passed out of the near corner to Vatanen at the far point. Vatanen gave to Wood near the top of the near circle and he rocketed a shot upstairs to double the Devils’ lead.

New Jersey had to brace themselves for an attacking Canucks team in the second period, but Blackwood was there to close the door when needed. The third goal of the game came just 1:31 into the third period also on the power play when Vatanen scored from Wood and Damon Severson. This had been setup the previous period when Markus Granlund tripped up Nico Hischier leading to a Devils power play that would commence after a period of 4-on-4 (Vancouver was already on the PP) and carry over to the third.

On this goal, Wood broke into the Canucks’ zone on the rush and dropped the puck for a trailing Vatanen. He one-timed a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Nilsson stick side. It may have been deflected by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler. It was now 3-0 Devils.

Pavel Zacha would put a bow on 2018 when he scored 2:05 later from Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini. Zacha, as per the coaching staff, has been shooting more of late and using his offensive weapons. This has translated into goals like the one he scored today when Noesen criss-crossed through the neutral zone, gained the offensive zone and dropped to Zacha just inside the Canucks’ blue line. Zacha fired the puck by Nilsson and made it 4-0 in what would be our final. That was also the final Devils goal of the 2018 calendar year.

A strange play late in the game as Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel pushed Severson into Blackwood with Severson’s skate going into Blackwood’s midsection. Blackwood was okay, but Roussel then proceeded to drop his gloves and attack Severson with Severson not being ready to fight. For his efforts, Roussel was given a two minute roughing minor that put New Jersey on the power play and a ten minute misconduct penalty.

Statistically, the Devils were out shot by Vancouver 25-23, won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had a whopping 32 hits to the Canucks’ 18, blocked ten more shots than the Canucks (18-8) and had 11 giveaways to Vancouver’s three.

Individually, Sami Vatanen, who was named the game’s third star, led the team in ice time with 22:27 (1:56 on the power play and 2:23 shorthanded) while Travis Zajac led the forwards (19:27, including 2:38 on the PP and 3:22 on the PK). Wood, who was the game’s second star, led in shots with four, Blake Coleman led in hits with five, Andy Greene led in blocked shots with four and Kyle Palmieri and Vatanen each registered a takeaway to lead there.

Next up for the Devils, they hit the road to begin 2019. They will be in Dallas to take on the Stars on January 2, Wednesday at 8:30 PM eastern. We will have coverage right here then but will also continue coverage of the 2019 World Junior Championship here tonight. Until then, Happy New Year and everybody have a safe and healthy 2019!

Swiss, Russians Put on a Show at World Juniors

The USA-Sweden game last night at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship was going to be a hard act to follow. And with only two games today, it was probably not going to be equaled. Although the drama was not quite the same as last night’s last minute heroics for the US, the Switzerland versus Russia game seemed to include a little bit of everything else.

Akira Schmid got the start in Vancouver and he made 34 saves. Russia won the game 7-4 however.

The game started off on a strange foot as Switzerland’s Marco Lehmann scored just 49 seconds into the first period. The goal was reviewed by the IIHF to check for goalie interference, but the call on the ice stood: we had a good goal. The Swiss had immediately jumped out to the 1-0 lead.

Valentin Nussbaumer would make it 2-0 at the 9:06 mark to really put the Swiss in the driver’s seat. Less than ten minutes in and the Swiss had seemingly taken control of the game. It was a good position to be in.

However, Kirill Marchenko would cut the lead in half and get Russia back into things when he scored at 14:27 of the first period. This goal seemed initially to be offsides, however while the Russian skater did enter the zone before the puck, he had firm control of it behind him, therefore there was no offsides and the goal counted.

The second period, one that will go down as one of the wildest periods I have personally ever seen in a hockey game, started innocently enough. Lehmann scored his second of the game to give the Swiss a 3-1 lead. He chipped the puck over the shoulder of Russian goaltender Danil Tarasov.

That goal was 5:46 into the period and 21 seconds after that, Dmitri Samorukov scored unassisted to make it 3-2.

Then a pretty scary moment as, on a 2-on-1, a Swiss skater went crashing skates first into Tarasov. He seemed to be clutching his left leg and the worst was thought: that he got cut by the skate blade. He was checked out by the Russian trainer, however, and was okay. He remained in the game.

A few minutes following that, Grigori Denisenko scored for the Russians to tie things up at three on the power play. Then the real weirdness began.

Switzerland’s Lehmann was hauled down on a breakaway not once, but twice. The officials got together and initially signaled that there would be a penalty shot for the first trip and a two-minute minor penalty for the second. However, it was then ruled that the Swiss would get two penalty shots instead. It was a strange call, as really only the trip where Lehmann was in the clear should have been the penalty shot, but was a moot point anyway as Switzerland missed both penalty shots.

As if that was not weird enough, with Russia still on a power play from before the penalty shots (Sandro Schmid was off for high sticking for Switzerland), Ivan Muranov was caught butt-ending a Swiss player in the midsection. He got a five minute major for butt-ending and a game misconduct and was thrown out. Now, with the Russian power play expiring, the Swiss would be on the power play for a little more than four minutes.

However, it was the Russians who took control on that penalty kill. Kirill Slepets scored unassisted and shorthanded off of a turnover in the Swiss zone to make it 4-3 Russia. From there, Russia basically opened the floodgates.

Alexander Alexeyev scored at the 6:38 mark to give the Russians a 5-3 lead. Switzerland’s Yannick Bruschweiler notched one 35 seconds after that to cut the lead to 5-4 and pull the Swiss back into it, but that was as close as they got.

Pavel Shen scored through Schmid’s five hole to make it 6-4 and Vitali Kravtsov scored 1:08 later to make it 7-4, which was our final. Switzerland pulled Schmid with about two minutes to go in the game in an attempt to get things going, but to no avail.

It was a very entertaining game and takes us into tomorrow. The Swiss are done with preliminary play, finishing with a 1-0-1-2 record and four points in four games in Group A. They had 11 goals for and 12 against for a goal differential of minus-1.

Tomorrow, the Swedes kick off the day against Kazakhstan. Then the big one as the Russians faceoff with the Canadians and then the night cap as Team USA faces the Finns. We will have coverage of all of that here for you as well as the Devils-Canucks game at 1 PM.

2019 World Juniors: Day Three

It was another busy day in British Columbia at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships with four games involving Devils prospects on the docket. Let’s get to it.

In the early game at Rogers Arena, Switzerland notched a shutout against Denmark. Akira Schmid did not play in this game as Luca Hollenstein made 21 saves on the Danes, who continue to struggle in this tournament. Philipp Kurashev had a hat trick for the Swiss and Simon le Coultre added one to give the host Swiss the 4-0 win. Switzerland will next take on the Russians on Sunday (December 30) in Group A action.

Moving over to Victoria and the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, Finland defeated Slovakia 5-1. Aarne Talvitie had an assist on the game’s second goal by Santeri Virtanen, which made it 2-0 Finland. The Finnish captain’s stat line read an assist, two penalty minutes (a tripping penalty 15:40 into the second period that resulted in the lone Slovakian goal of the game by Milos Roman less than a minute into the penalty), a shot on goal and a plus-1 rating all in 16:30 of total ice time. Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 22 saves on 23 Slovak shots in taking the win. Finland’s next opponent is the United States on New Year’s Eve in what will be the late game on that night. If you are planning to stay up, you could catch some World Junior action between Team USA and the Aarne Talvitie and the Finns if you so choose on the NHL Network here in the States. You could do worse, that’s for sure.

In the later game in Group A in Vancouver, Canada took on the Czech Republic and the Canadians just continued to roll in the tournament. They defeated the Czechs 5-1 to remain atop Group A. Ty Smith had an assist (on Brett Leason’s goal at 11:32 of the first period, the one that would go down as the game winner), two shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating in 9:48 of total ice time.

In addition to the Leason goal, Maxime Comtois, Alexis Lafreniere, MacKenzie Entwistle and Morgan Frost all had tallies for Team Canada. Ondrej Machala had the lone goal for the Czechs. Canada chased Czech goalie Jiri Patera in favor of Jakub Skarek in the third period. Next up, the Canadians look for a test on New Year’s Eve when they take on Russia in the conclusion of Group A preliminary round play.

The final game on the slate saw Sweden putting their prelim winning streak on the line against the Americans in Victoria. It was a clash of the top two teams in Group B. Both teams with six points, but the US leading on goal differential coming into the game plus-7 to Sweden’s plus-4.

Sweden took the lead early and often with Filip Westerlund, Rickard Hugg, Emil Bemstrom and Erik Brannstrom scoring over the first two periods and early into the third to give them the 4-0 lead. But the US would not die so easily. They scored three straight from Mikey Anderson on the power play, Ryan Poehling and another from Poehling with the goaltender pulled.

That set up a dramatic play with 22.8 seconds remaining where Poehling went to the net and finished off a natural hat trick to tie it at four. The Americans had miraculously come back to tie things up after being left for dead all evening. The Swedes’ streak was on the line as we headed to overtime.

US goalie Kyle Keyser made a huge save early in the OT session (which is five minutes of three-on-three for the prelim round) but the Swedes were opportunistic and Adam Boqvist won it off a 2-on-1 with 1:09 left in the OT to preserve the Swedish streak at 46 straight prelim wins.

Fabian Zetterlund ended the game with one shot on net and an even plus/minus rating in 12:54 of ice time. The Swedes also take over first place in Group B on points. The Swedes will now take on Kazakhstan on New Year’s Eve.

Overall it was an exciting day of action at the World Juniors. The USA-Sweden finish is one that has to be seen to be believed and it is just too bad that the Americans could not complete the comeback in overtime.

We will see you tomorrow here with more coverage of the 2019 World Junior Championships.

Blackwood Earns First Career Shutout; Devils Beat Hurricanes 2-0

It’s been a long time.

The Devils had not strung together back-to-back wins since November 13 and 15. Back then, they beat Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Today, they notched their second straight win after beating Boston on Thursday. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Kid’s Day at Prudential Center behind a spectacular performance from goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, a shorthanded goal from Pavel Zacha and a timely bit of luck.

The Devils are still without Taylor Hall, which makes this run of two games even more improbable to an extent. They are also missing Marcus Johansson and Cory Schneider, who according to Erika Wachter of MSG+, have started skating but remain on injured reserve. Joey Anderson remains on IR but has started off-ice workouts.

Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches for New Jersey.

One other bit of business from the Boston game on Thursday is that the Bruins’ David Backes has received supplemental discipline for his illegal check to the head of Blake Coleman. Because he is a repeat offender, he was fined over $200,000 and will be banned for three games. That will include the New Year’s Day Winter Classic game for Boston as well.

That win in Boston was the Devils’ first since October 26, 2013 according to an MSG+ graphic and the Devils were looking to build on that game. One of their stars from that contest was Mackenzie Blackwood. He made a back-to-back start in this game, going today as well. He was brilliant. He stopped all 37 shots Carolina threw his way. But he also got some luck. The Canes had seemingly tied things up at one with an extra attacker on with 1:58 to go in the game. However, the goal was immediately waved off on the ice with the explanation of incidental goalie interference by Carolina’s Justin Williams. The contact through the crease was negligible, but he did bump into Blackwood’s stick.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour used his coach’s challenge to have this one overturned but the call was upheld when Toronto looked at it. It was just too much contact (albeit, as I said, negligible) to overturn the call. The Devils would get through that “storm” and Andy Greene emphatically slapped the puck into the empty net with 32 seconds left in the game to make it 2-0 Devils, which was our final.

For the Canes, journeyman Curtis McElhinney was between the pipes. He was equally good and stopped 28 of 29 Devils shots. With the empty netter, the Devils finsihed the game being outshot by Carolina 37-30.

The game winner came shorthanded off the stick of Zacha unassisted. That was set up when John Quenneville took a penalty for tripping Trevor van Riemsdyk at 17:26. With 36 seconds to go in the second period and two on the penalty, Zacha scored when he chipped an intercepted pass up ice and chased it. He shot and McElhinney made the initial save before Zacha chipped the rebound over McElhinney’s shoulder and top shelf to make it 1-0 Devils.

Special teams-wise, the Devils kept the Hurricanes 0-for-5 on the power play with five shots. Carolina also had two shorthanded shots. On the Devils’ side of the ledger, they went 0-for-3 on the power play with seven total shots but also added three shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on, as noted.

One scary moment was early in the game when linesman Tim Nowak was hit in the elbow by a puck and seemed injured enough for the Devils’ trainer to come out and look at him. He stayed in the game and continued officiating, showing that it takes the toughest of the tough to make a hockey game go.

For the Devils, statistically, they won 52-percent of the faceoffs but got out hit 20 to 11. The Canes also had more blocked shots (16 to 13) and less giveaways (nine to three).

Greene led all Devils’ skaters in ice time (25:13) which included 8:44 killing penalties. Travis Zajac led the forwards with 21:33 total (3:39 on the PP and 5:13 on the PK). Kyle Palmieri and Zacha led in shots with four each, Miles Wood and Will Butcher led in hits with two each, Sami Vatanen led in blocked shots with four and Ben Lovejoy led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils will have a 1 PM matinee on New Year’s Eve at Prudential Center against the Vancouver Canucks. We will see you then and hope you join us later for a little bit of World Junior update. See you then!

Day Two of the 2019 World Juniors

Day two of the 2019 World Junior Championship featured three games directly related to Devils prospects. Sweden downed Slovakia 5-2, Canada edged by Switzerland 3-2 and, in the night cap, Finland got by Kazakhstan 5-0.

The Swedish game in Victoria saw Fabian Zetterlund finish with two penalty minutes (a too many men on the ice bench minor that he served) and a plus-1 plus/minus rating all in 15:26 of ice time. Zetterlund and the Swedes will next take on the US on December 29.

Back in Vancouver, the Canadians and Ty Smith were facing off with Akira Schmid and the Swiss. Schmid fended off 29 of the Canadians’ 32 shots on goal. He was able to keep the Swiss in a game that might have given them some trouble ala Denmark. Instead, it was a much closer game than the Canadians had possibly anticipated deep down.

For the Canadians, Smith had two shots on goal in 15:48 of ice time. He did not lead the Canadians in ice time tonight, but matchups and the game situations will dictate that.

Next up for Switzerland, they take on Denmark on December 29 in a battle of the two lower teams in Group A. Canada will take on the Czech Republic on Saturday as well.

In the Finland-Kazakhstan game, Aarne Talvitie scored the Finn’s second goal of the game and ended with the goal, two shots on net and a plus-2 rating in 9:54 of total ice time.

The real story of this game was the Kazakhstan goalie, however. Demid Yeremeyev made 31 saves in an onslaught from the Finns. The crowd in Victoria, though, fell in love with his effort and were thoroughly cheering for the Kazakhstan team by the end of the game. He won them over and became a pure fan favorite in one of the moments of the tournament so far.

Finland will next take on the Slovaks on Saturday. So, we have a full slate of games on Saturday including Denmark versus Switzerland, Slovakia versus Finland, Canada versus the Czech Republic and Sweden versus the United States. We will have coverage of what happened in each game right here following the Devils-Hurricanes game.

Blackwood Earns First NHL Victory as Devils Roll Over Boston, 5-2

For the first time this season (in the final road game of the 2018 calendar year, no less), someone not named Keith Kinkaid earned a win for the Devils between the pipes. That man was Mackenzie Blackwood and he had a pretty good night. The Devils beat the Bruins up in Boston 5-2.

It has not been easy for the Devils at TD Garden the last few years. The Bruins were 12-1-0 in the last 13 games between the two teams up in Beantown according to a graphic on the MSG+ pregame show, but they earned the victory tonight.

Things did not look too good for New Jersey with the announcement prior to the game that Taylor Hall would not be playing tonight. The team practiced in Newark this morning before flying up to Boston and Hall had a re-occurrence of the lower body injury that kept him out of some games a few weeks ago prior to the Christmas break. He is now day-to-day according to Erika Wachter.

Jesper Bratt moved into Hall’s spot on the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier while Stefan Noesen was back in the lineup to take his place on the roster. Noesen had not played since December 9 at Anaheim. Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches. One other transaction made was John Quenneville. He was actually sent back down to Binghamton just prior to the Christmas break and was recalled yesterday. For the B’s, Zdeno Chara was making his first appearance since November 14, as he had been out with a knee injury.

One Devil really excited for this game was Brett Seney. The former Merrimack College player had some 30 friends and family at the game. He was playing in his first game at TD Garden, something he did not get to do even in college.

The goalie matchup saw Jaroslav Halak go for the B’s as the former Islander made 28 saves on 32 Devils shots against. The Devils finished the game with 33 shots, since they added an empty netter later on in the game. As mentioned, Mackenzie Blackwood was the star of the show for the Devils. He stopped 40 of 42 Bruins shots and was named the game’s first star. As Ken Daneyko pointed out on the MSG+ post game show, it is a bit auspicious that a Devils goalie, wearing number 29 should get his first win against the Bruins. Martin Brodeur got his first win in the NHL against the Bruins back in 1992 wearing… number 29!

The Devils got the scoring started early as Damon Severson became the sixth defenseman in team history to score 30 seconds or less into a game. He did it 25 seconds in off assists from Andy Greene and Travis Zajac. It happened when Zajac got the puck to a pinching Greene. He then found Severson cutting backdoor on the Bruins’ goal and scored to make it 1-0 Devils.

The Devils would make it 2-0 before the first intermission when Palmieri scored on the power play at 15:25 from Will Butcher and Brian Boyle. It was set up when former Devil John Moore was called for tripping. On the man advantage, Palmieri took a shot in close that Halak made the initial save on. The puck then hit Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo and rolled up and over Halak, who was down in the butterfly, and in. The Devils now had a 2-0 lead to take into the first break.

On the power play, the Devils were 2-for-4 on the night with three shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on net. The Bruins were held 0-for-2 with three shots on the power play. They also accumulated three shorthanded shots.

Boston got on the board at the 15:07 mark of the second period when Chris Wagner collided with a Devils defender and the Devil went down. This left Wagner all alone to cut in behind the play and take a nice pass from Moore to score into an empty net. Danton Heinen had the secondary assist. The Bruins had cut the Devils’ lead in half. Boston out shot the Devils 19-9 in that second period but Blackwood was fantastic in net to keep the Devils on top.

In the third, at 4:15, Blake Coleman blocked a Torey Krug shot at the point in the Devils’ zone and sped off to collect the loose puck through the neutral zone. He grabbed it, went forehand, backhand on Halak and turned the goalie inside out to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. That goal was unassisted.

At the 7:51 mark, Miles Wood drove to the Boston net, knocking it off its moorings. He was tripped up on the play by Kevan Miller (for which he received a penalty on the play), and the puck ended up in the net. The call on the ice was no goal and that stood under review by Toronto. It turned out the puck had slipped under the side of the goal cage as it was jarred up as Wood bumped into it.

The Devils would get one for real at the 12:43 mark when Nico Hischier scored from Wood and Noesen. That occurred when Noesen won a puck battle along the boards in the Devils’ zone. Wood took it and he and Nico were off with numbers. Wood one-handed it to HIschier, who was cutting through the slot. Nico then was all alone on Halak and roofed it over the prone goalie to give the Devils a commanding 4-1 lead.

Patrice Bergeron would cut the Devils’ lead to two when a Jake DeBrusk shot was redirected by Blackwood off of Bergeron’s shin pad and into the net.

A strange ending to the game came when Boston’s David Backes was called for an illegal check to the head of Coleman at 18:00. This would put the Devils on the man advantage for the remainder of the game. The Bruins pulled Halak to even it up but who else but Coleman scored into an empty net to ice the game for the Devils. His goal was officially a power play goal and gave us our final of 5-2. Halak had been 8-0 at TD Garden so far this season, but that was the end of that streak. The Devils won.

The Devils were out shot 42-33 and won just 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They did out hit the Bruins 28-20 and had more blocked shots (19-4) and less giveaways at 11 for the Devils to the B’s 17.

Individually, Andy Greene led the team in ice time (21:48 – 37 seconds on the PP and 1:41 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 19:41 (3:35 on the PP and 2:30 on the PK). Shots were led by Pavel Zacha with seven, hits by Brian Boyle and Coleman with four each, blocks by Hischier with three and takeaways by Zajac with four.

Next up, the Devils will return home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. We will have that coverage for you here and will also have continuing coverage of the World Juniors later tonight.

2019 World Juniors Open

The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship got under way yesterday evening in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.

Group A featuring Canada, Denmark, Russia, Czech Republic and Switzerland, is playing at Rogers Arena (the home of the Canucks) in Vancouver. Group B which has Sweden, Finland, the United States, Slovakia and Kazakhstan, is playing in Victoria at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

The Devils have four players representing their organization in the tournament: Ty Smith (Canada), Fabian Zetterlund (Sweden), Aarne Talvitie (Finland) and Akira Schmid (Switzerland). Talvitie is serving as the captain for the Finns, the second straight year that the Devils have a prospect serving as a captain for his country in this tournament. Last season, you will recall, Joey Anderson was captain of the USA.

In addition, some other familiar Devils-related faces involved with this tournament are Tyler Madden of Team USA who is the son of former Devil John “Mad Dog” Madden and Patrik Elias, the Devils legend himself. Madden is a 5-foot, 11-inch, 18-year-old forward who players at Northeastern University. He notched an assist in the Americans’ 2-1 win over Slovakia in yesterday’s action.

Patty is serving as an assistant coach for the Czechs. His team won 2-1 over the Swiss in overtime. Schmid did not play. Switzerland will be playing Canada on December 27.

And speaking of Canada, they were the big winners on the evening, laying a total drubbing on Denmark 14-0. That may seem like running up the score, but remember that this tournament relys heavily on goal differential. You have to score when you can and the Canadians certainly did. Smith had an assist on a third period goal by Maxime Comtois. He also had one shot on goal and was a plus-4 all in 21:17 of total ice time. That led all Canadian skaters in TOI.

In the Canada-Denmark game, Canada’s Morgan Frost had a hat trick, Comtois finished with four goals and goaltender Michael DiPietro made 14 saves to preserve the shutout. Canada peppered Danish goaltending with 45 shots on the night.

In the night cap, Finland and Talvitie took on Sweden and Zetterlund in Group B action. Sweden had not lost in the preliminary round since 2006. Their streak was up to 44 games. Well, make it 45 as they defeated the Finns 2-1. Erik Brannstrom scored a pair of goals for the Swedes with Emil Bemstrom and Adam Boqvist getting the assists on both of them. Zetterlund finished with two shots on net in 8:26 of ice time.

As for the Finnish goal, that was scored by Talvitie who finished off a nice play from Kaapo Kakko. Jesse Ylonen had the other assist. Talvitie’s stat line saw him with the goal in 13:55 of time on ice. It was a timely goal too. One that got Finland going and nearly forced overtime. But the Finns were not able to complete the comeback and Sweden’s streak remains alive for another game.

Next up for these teams, Sweden puts their streak on the line against Slovakia on the 27th and Finland will match up with Kazakhstan on the same day. We will try to integrate some of tomorrow’s updates from this tournament into the Devils versus Boston post. The late game may negate that, however. We will see how coverage will go from here.

Devils Blanked by Blue Jackets Heading into Christmas Break

The Devils were looking to string together two straight wins for the first time since November as the Columbus Blue Jackets came to town in the final game before the NHL’s mandatory Christmas break. It was the second time in four days these two teams had met, with the Jackets having won 2-1 last Thursday at Nationwide Arena. Today, Columbus won 3-0, scoring goals on their first two shots of the game and adding a third in the second period.

The highlight of the day for Devils fans, at least, was that the team was wearing their white, green and red Heritage uniforms. These unis are heavily based on the jerseys the team wore from 1982 to 1992 at the Meadowlands. The last time the team wore these uniforms was actually April 29, 1992 – game six of the Patrick Division Semifinals against the Rangers at Brendan Byrne Arena. They will wear them three more times this season after this.

The Devils lineup remained largely the same as the game versus the Senators, with Mirco Mueller, Stefan Noesen and Egor Yakovlev as the healthy scratches.

The one change was between the pipes. Keith Kinkaid started for the Devils but would only last half the game. He faced 11 shots and stopped eight of them. Following the third Columbus goal 10:47 into the second period, Kinkaid was pulled in favor of Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood stopped all nine shots he saw. In goal for the Blue Jackets was Sergei Bobrovsky. The Russian two-time Vezina Trophy winner was simply lights out today. He stopped all 39 Devils shots he faced and was superb for them.

The first goal of the game (and the game winner – his second such in two games against the Devils in less than a week) came off the stick of Cam Atkinson at 4:03 into the game. It was the Jackets’ first shot of the game and came off of a nice backdoor feed from Artemi Panarin. Ryan Murray had the secondary assist. Not only was this the first shot on goal for Columbus, it was also on the Blue Jackets’ first time in the Devils’ zone. One shot, one goal for the Jackets.

One minute and twenty eight seconds later, Danish Devils killer Oliver Bjorkstrand took the Blue Jackets’ second shot on the Devils’ net… and scored. It was a play almost completely identical to Atkinson’s goal with Alexander Wennberg playing the role of Panarin. Zach Werenski had the secondary assist on this goal. Two shots, two goals for the Jackets.

Columbus would end the first period with just four shots on goal, with Kinkaid making his first save on the third shot with about a minute to go in the first period. That save garnered some sarcastic applause from the crowd on hand.

The third goal of the game came off the stick of Panarin, who would be the game’s second star with a goal and an assist (Bobrovsky was the first star with the shutout while Atkinson was the third star with the game winner). This came on a breakaway unassisted on one that should have been stopped by Kinkaid but squeezed through his arm and in instead. It was after that goal that Blackwood came on in relief. Goaltending has been shaky at best for the Devils this year, so we will see where the Devils go after the break.

Special teams was a double edged sword for the Devils this afternoon. They went 0-for-3 on the power play with six shots on goal. At the 16:09 mark of the second, Seth Jones went off for high sticking putting the Devils on the man advantage. Columbus then took a bench minor for too many men on the ice putting the Devils up 5-on-3. During this power play, one of the Jackets’ defenders lost his stick, effectively making it 5-on-2 for the Devils and they still did not score. Chalk that one up to Bobrovsky playing nearly out of his mind.

On the flip side, the Devils kept the Blue Jackets 0-for-4 on the power play with just a single shot. Both teams had a shorthanded shot. So their power play was weak, but the penalty kill was strong, a 50/50 tradeoff for the Devils.

The game would actually end at 4-on-4 when Brett Seney took a goalie interference penalty at 18:03 of the third period and Bobrovsky took a corresponding embellishment penalty.

The Devils out shot the Jackets 39 to 20 in the game while winning 54-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also out hit Columbus 17-13. Predictably for a John Tortorella-coached team, Columbus had more blocked shots at 13 to the Devils’ seven. The Devils racked up more giveaways at 11 to the Jackets’ three.

Will Butcher led the team in ice time with 22:09 (3:51 on the power play and 1:05 on the PK) while Taylor Hall led all forwards with 21:31 (3:51 of PP time). Ben Lovejoy led in shots with six, hits were led by Miles Wood with five, blocked shots by Andy Greene with two and takeaways by Hall, Brian Boyle, Blake Coleman and Greene who each had one.

Next up, the Christmas break. It will be a good time for the Devils to take some time to rest and regroup and hopefully come out of it refreshed and ready to go. They will face the Bruins up in Boston on Thursday at 7 PM. We will have coverage then for you right here. In the meantime, have a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Devils Win Big Over Sens, 5-2

The Devils played a very good game tonight. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but very, very good. They defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 in their first win in the back end of a back-to-back this season in seven tries. The game included one multi point nights for the top line of Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri and one of the wildest sequences leading to a goal that you will ever see.

The win followed some bad news as the Devils placed forward Marcus Johansson, who was just beginning to find his groove, on injured reserve with an upper body injury. He left the game at Columbus last night with the injury and now the team will be without him for some time. With that, John Hynes’ line experiment was put to an abrupt end. Taylor Hall was put back on the top line, reunited with Hischier and Palmieri. All that line did was accumulate nine total points on the evening.

The scratches for the Devils were Mirco Mueller, Egor Yakovlev and Stefan Noesen. Ottawa dressed seven D and 11 forwards.

In goal, the Devils went back to Keith Kinkaid between the pipes after Mackenzie Blackwood made his first start in Columbus. Kinkaid had been pulled in two of his last five starts, especially with the Devils giving up a cumulative 10 goals to two scored in the first period over those games. Tonight, though, he was spot on. He made 25 saves on 27 Senators shots. Facing him was Craig Anderson who made 20 saves on 25 shots. He was yanked in the third period in favor of former Devil Mike McKenna. McKenna stopped all seven of the shots he saw. The Devils finished the game with a total of 32 shots.

Things got off to a fast start as Miles Wood took a goalie interference penalty just 59 seconds into the game. The Devils, however, would strike first. It was Pavel Zacha scoring a shorthanded goal off a breakaway at 2:03 after Brian Boyle got it up to him and he chipped it by the Sens’ Thomas Chabot off the boards to himself and was off to the races. That gave the Devils the early 1-0 lead. From there, they would never look back.

Kyle Palmieri made it 2-0 from Hall and Hischier at 10:54 of the first when the Devils’ relentless forecheck kept the puck in the Senators’ zone and Hall won a puck battle in the near corner. He fed Palmieri at the top of the far faceoff circle and Palmieri sniped one by Anderson to double the New Jersey lead.

The Devils had the two goal lead heading into the first intermission, but if you will recall their debacle of a loss in Ottawa earlier in the season, they also held a two goal lead in that one before being blown out by the Sens.

And the Senators would seem to be back into things when Matt Duchene scored his first of two from Mark Stone and Chabot just 2:20 into the second period on the power play. Wood had taken a high sticking penalty on Ben Harpur at 1:52 to set that up. Overall on special teams, Ottawa was 1-for-5 with two shots on the night. The Devils were 1-for-3 with four power play shots and also four shorthanded shots, including the shorty goal.

The Devils would get that power play goal at the 4:07 mark of the second. It came when Harpur took a high sticking call on Palmieri and on the ensuing man advantage, Hall took a rink-wide pass from Palmieri and skated up the near boards in the Ottawa zone. He faked a drop pass to Will Butcher and elected to shoot, beating Anderson to make it 3-1 Devils.

Following that was one of the craziest and most unlikely goals you will ever see the Devils score. It began in the Devils’ zone. Sami Vatanen stopped a surefire Brady Tkachuk goal by coming across the crease when Kinkaid was down. Nico swept the puck out of the goal crease and it came out to Stone, who coughed the puck up to Palmieri. Palmieri then broke into the Sens’ zone on a 2-on-0 with Hall. He fed Hall the puck and Hall buried it to make it 4-1 New Jersey at the 5:19 mark of the second. Words cannot do this goal justice. If you have not seen it, check it out on YouTube or the NHL website. This was one of the craziest sequences I have ever seen in almost 30 years of following the Devils and the NHL. Just amazing.

The play was briefly reviewed by the situation room in Toronto to see if the puck did indeed cross the line before Vatanen saved it. There was also some concern that Nico had closed his hand on the puck in the crease, which would have been a penalty, but penalties cannot be reviewed by Toronto and I do not believe that Ottawa could have challenged for that. Either way, it did not seem on replay that he closed his hand on the puck anyway. The goal for the Devils stood.

Ottawa would again cut the lead down when they halved it to 4-2. Duchene scored on a delayed penalty against the Devils as the puck pinballed around the Devils zone and Duchene simply shoveled it into the open net. That goal came at 11:53 from Bobby Ryan and Christian Jaros.

The scoring would be rounded out when Nico Hischier joined his linemates in getting a goal at 18:58 of the second period. Hall and Butcher had the assists. It came just after the Devils had killed off a penalty and saw Nico shooting from a sharp angle, beating Anderson short side.

In the end, Nico was named the game’s third star with a goal and an assist, Palmieri was the second star with a goal and two assists while Hall was the first star with a pair of goals and two assists. Not a bad night for a line that would likely have been broken up had Marcus Johansson been good to go.

Statistically, the Devils out shot the Sens 32-27 but won only 48-percent of the game’s faceofffs. They out hit Ottawa 22 to 10 and blocked more shots at 10-4. They also ended up with one more giveaway with four to the Senators’ three.

Individually, Damon Severson was saddled with the big minutes tonight, playing 22:06 total (47 seconds on the power play and 2:43 killing penalties). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 19:54 (2:54 on the PP and 4:35 on the PK). Hall had the most shots of all Devils with six, while Wood (who played a feisty game – including getting a ten minute misconduct penalty at the end of the game when he and Mark Borowiecki squared off to fight but took too long before the linesmen jumped in) led in hits with five. Blocked shots were co-led by Butcher and Ben Lovejoy with two each and takeaways were led by Zajac with three.

Next up, one more before the Christmas break. It will be a home rematch against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Puck drop for that game is 12:30 PM in Newark and the Devils will be wearing their white, red and green “Heritage” uniforms for the first of four games this season. We will see you here with coverage of the game shortly after its conclusion.

Devils Edged by Columbus 2-1

In a what has been a rough patch for the Devils, tonight was a bit of a bright spot in another loss. Mackenzie Blackwood, the rookie goaltender who made a relief appearance on Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs, got his first career NHL start tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets and played very well. The difference between the Jackets and the Devils in a 2-1 Columbus victory was a penalty shot goal by one of the Blue Jackets’ best offensive threats. Otherwise, the rookie went virtually toe-to-toe with defending Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Brobrovsky.

Devils coach John Hynes called the loss to Toronto on Tuesday “unacceptable” and promised some changes. Some of those changes included defenseman Steven Santini making his return to the lineup tonight. He had not played in exactly two months, having broken his jaw getting hit by a puck in a game at Philadelphia on October 20. He was back in the lineup and Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were out on the blue line. Drew Stafford was out up front.

Santini played 12:25 total TOI – including 11 seconds on the power play and 45 seconds on the penalty kill – registering a shot on goal, four hits and a blocked shot.

The other changes were to the lines. Taylor Hall dropped down to the second line, playing with Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman while Marcus Johansson moved up to the top line in his place. Of course, hockey being as unpredictable as it is, Johansson ended up getting hurt in the second period and did not return. Hall then moved back up to the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier.

We talked about Blackwood making his debut tonight, he stopped 36 of 38 Blue Jacket shots and was named the game’s third star. He made a nice stop on Alexander Wennberg after Wennberg gathered the puck off of the end boards and Blackwood had to move side-to-side to make the save, stopping the puck just on the goal line. That play, which occurred early in the third period, would warrant a review from Toronto, but the replay showed that it did not completely cross the line and was no goal. Bobrovsky was his opponent and made 29 saves on 30 shots in being named the game’s second star.

Nick Foligno scored the opening goal of the game, putting a layup into the net after being left all alone on the side of the goal cage. He took a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones had the other assist. This goal came after Columbus just created complete chaos in the Devils’ end. Only 4:17 into the game, it was 1-0 Blue Jackets.

The Devils would not register their first shot of the game until a mid-first period breakaway by Miles Wood. It was a slow start for the Devils to say the least.

New Jersey seemed to be down 2-0 when, late in the first, the officials checked to make sure a puck did not go into Blackwood’s net before the goal was dislodged. The replay from Toronto showed that the net was knocked off of its moorings first and it was no goal.

A scrap at the 17:45 mark saw Brett Seney take on the much-larger Brandon Dubinsky. Brian Boyle stepped in to stick up for Seney at the end of the play and ended up taking a roughing penalty against David Savard. The Devils would have to kill that off and they did, keeping Columbus 0-for-4 on the man advantage with ten shots. They also had two shorthanded shots. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play with five shots. They had three shorthanded shots too.

The game winning goal came on a penalty shot just 1:15 into the second period. Cam Atkinson had his hands hooked on a clean breakaway by Andy Greene and the penalty shot had to be called. Atkinson then converted, scoring his 20th of the season and making it 2-0 Blue Jackets. Atkinson was named the game’s first star.

The Devils would finally cut the deficit in half at the 10:39 mark of the second when Hall was sprung on a breakaway by a nice pass from Palmieri. Bobrovsky went down very early as he was out of his crease and Hall scored to make it 2-1. This goal was Hall’s 200th career NHL goal, congratulations to him on that milestone.

And that would be it for the scoring. The Devils did seemingly tie things 20 seconds into the third period when Coleman one-timed a pass from Zajac that hit the crossbar and bounced out of the net. Toronto reviewed the goal to see if it did enter the net and come out very fast. Replays showed that it did not, it simply hit the post and came right out. The call on the ice of no goal stood and the Devils were back to the drawing board.

Blackwood would make a nice save to keep the Devils in the game late when he stopped Anthony Duclair with a quick left pad save. He would be pulled with about 2:04 remaining in the game. With the extra attacker (but minus an injured Johansson) the Devils had some chances, including a Palmieri one-timer that, after a scramble in front on the rebound, was reviewed by Toronto to see if it did enter the net. But much like the Coleman review, the call on the ice stood at no goal. Bobrovsky just had a fantastic game.

The Devils were out shot 38 to 30, but won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had 22 hits to the Jackets’ 15 and blocked more shots than Columbus (15 to nine). The Devils also had more giveaways than the Blue Jackets, four to three.

Individually, Will Butcher led everyone in ice time with 23:45 (including 2:01 of PP time) and Zajac led the forwards at 21:14 (2:01 on the PP and 3:39 on the PK). The shots on goal category was led by Palmieri with six, hits were led by Santini’s four, blocks were led by Hall, Ben Lovejoy and Damon Severson with two each and takeaways saw Pavel Zacha net three to lead the team there.

Next up, it’s the second half of a back-to-back as the Devils return home tomorrow to take on the Ottawa Senators. New Jersey has not won the second half of a back-to-back so far this year. Will the seventh time be the charm? That game is at 7 PM tomorrow night and we will have it for you right here.