The Devils picked up a point in what was a wild loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center tonight. They fell in a shootout 6-5.
Coming into the game, the Devils were the ones who were riding high, as they had broken a previous six game losing streak, winning in Los Angeles on Thursday. The Ducks had just had a five game winning streak snapped by the Hurricanes the other night, so the Devils were coming in with some momentum.
Anaheim is having some injury problems of late. Among the wounded Ducks are Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell. All important pieces for them. The Devils are largely healthy and had Mirco Mueller, Steven Santini and Drew Stafford as the scratches while keeping their lineup mostly the same as the game in LA on Thursday.
In goal, well, that was where the strangeness really began tonight. First the Ducks. Ryan Miller started for them, making 23 saves on 27 shots against. He currently stands at one win from overtaking former Devil John Vanbiesbrouck as the all-time winningest US-born goaltender in NHL history. That would have to wait as he would be injured in the third period when Taylor Hall crashed the net and took Miller out with him. Hall quickly called for the Ducks’ trainer on the play but Miller was lost for the remainder of the tilt. John Gibson came on in relief and stopped seven of the eight shots he faced. The Devils had 35 shots in total. Gibson also stopped both shots he faced in the shootout.
Then there was the Devils. Cory Schneider, trying to get his first regular season win of the calendar year of 2018 and having not won in Honda Center as a Devil, got the nod for New Jersey in the first half of their California back-to-back. His bad luck would continue as the Devils scored not one, not two, but three own goals on him, which helped to put him at quite the handicap. We will get to those in a moment. Cory made 33 saves on 38 Anaheim shots and stopped one of the three he faced in the shootout.
The game kicked off in crazy fashion. Former Duck Kyle Palmieri scored just 1:38 into the game from Egor Yakovlev to give the Devils the very early lead. That one came when Yakovlev took a slapper from the slot which rebounded off of the end boards and came right to Palmieri, who chipped it by Miller. That one just got the ball rolling.
Less than a minute later, at 2:12, the Devils could not clear the zone and Jakob Silfverberg shot through a Ryan Kesler screen in front to tie it up at one. Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano had the assists on that one.
It would only take the Ducks about 35 seconds to take their first lead of the night at 2:47 when a Kiefer Sherwood shot bounced in off of Stefan Noesen in front. Carter Rowney and Brandon Montour had the assists on that one. This was the first of the three Devils own goals on the night and gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead.
But the Devils would show their resiliency all night. Palmieri, on his way to being named the game’s third star, would score his second goal of the night at 10:45 from Hall. This game-tying goal came when on the forecheck, Hall read a Ducks’ reverse behind the net perfectly and passed to Palmieri at the far faceoff dot. He launched a one-timer by Miller to tie the game at two.
The first period goals would keep on coming at 13:08 when Damon Severson scored from Marcus Johansson and Jesper Bratt on the power play. At 11:46, Montour took a hooking penalty and the Devils were on the man advantage. The Severson goal came when the Devils worked the perimeter on the power play and eventually Johansson found Severson backdoor. He fired a shot that beat Miller stick side. That one gave the Devils a 3-2 lead.
The Devils went 1-for-3 on the power play with four shots on net. And although Anaheim was 0-for-1 with the extra attacker (without a shot), they would actually tie the game up on a delayed penalty off the stick of Montour at 13:39 of the first period. Ondrej Kase and Ryan Getzlaf had the assists on the goal which saw Montour score backdoor all alone on Schneider while the Ducks had the extra skater on the ice.
And with that, we were tied at three and the first period came to a close. It was a crazy one with six goals scored and most of them coming in small bunches.
In the second period, the Devils would retake the lead, 4-3, when Brett Seney scored his second goal from Bratt at the 9:00 mark. It came when Ben Lovejoy forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Seney and Bratt criss-crossed into the Ducks’ zone. Bratt took a shot from along the near wall and the rebound came right to Seney, who buried it and gave the Devils back the lead. New Jersey would be stopped on two partial breakaways late in the period and would not be able to grab that elusive insurance goal.
The third frame would see an exciting finish to the game. The Ducks tied things up when the Devils could not get the extra goal. Pontus Aberg scored at 8:35 from Kase and Getzlaf on a Kase shot that deflected in when Lovejoy tried to glove the puck out of the air in front of Cory. Things were now 4-4 as the Devils had scored on their own goalie a second time.
It would happen a third time just as the Ducks’ lone power play had expired at 13:58. Kase got credited for an unassisted goal that Andy Greene batted out of the air above the crossbar and behind Cory. The Ducks had the lead 5-4 on the Devils unbelievable third own goal of the game.
But the Devils would come back, Schneider was pulled with a little over two minutes remaining in the game and Mister Clutch, Marcus Johansson would score on a mad scramble in front of Gibson, who by now had come in for the injured Miller. Nico Hischier had the only assist on the goal, as Brian Boyle was originally credited with one, but later had it taken away.
That tied things up at five and, when the final horn sounded, we were off to overtime. Overtime has been a bit of a daunting task for Devils fans this season and it nearly seemed like that trend would continue. Midway through the OT period, Johansson’s stick broke and Anaheim was off on a three-on-one. But Cory came up big, making the save and allowing the Devils to continue to fight on.
When things were still not settled, we were on to a shootout. Aberg went first for the Ducks and was stopped by Schneider. Palmieri was up for the Devils and he was stopped by Gibson. Daniel Sprong scored for the Ducks and Hall hit the post on the Devils’ second attempt. Finally, Getzlaf finished things off when he beat Cory on his attempt. The Ducks came away with the 6-5 victory.
New Jersey won only 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also being out hit 31-28. But the Devils blocked more shots (15-13) and had less giveaways at 16 to the Ducks’ 18.
Individually, former Duck Sami Vatanen, making his first trip back to Anaheim, led the Devils in time on ice at 25:01 (including 2:49 on the PP) while Hall led forwards with 23:55 (2:36 on the power play). Palmieri, another former Duck-turned-Devil, led New Jersey in shots on goal with five and Miles Wood had the most hits for the Devils with five of those as well. Greene led in blocked shots with five and takeaways were led by Hall with three.
Next up, the Devils head up the California coast to Northern California to take on the San Jose Sharks. That game is at 10:30 PM Eastern time on Monday night/Tuesday morning and we will have that for you right here then.