Cape Breton Eliminates Charlottetown From Playoffs

The Charlottetown Islanders and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles squared off in a do-or-die game six tonight for Charlottetown. The Islanders were looking to force a game seven, but Cape Breton won 4-3 in overtime, taking the series four games to two.

The visiting Islanders got on the board first, breaking the ice with a Zachary Beauregard goal 5:21 into the game. But before the first period was out, Cape Breton would take a 2-1 lead.

It began at the 10:13 mark of the first when Gabriel Proulx found twine. Egor Sokolov would then add another one less than a minute later to make it 2-1 Screaming Eagles going into the first intermission.

From there, momentum shifted Charlottetown’s way. Xaiver Fortin scored at 9:19 of the second to tie things at two. Then, 1:16 into the third, Thomas Casey scored to give the Islanders the 3-2 lead.

But that would be the final goal scored this season by the Islanders. With goaltender Kevin Mandolese pulled for the extra attacker, the Screaming Eagles tied the game with just under two minutes to go in regulation. Mitchell Balmas would be the hero, knotting the game at three.

To that point in the game, the power play had not played much of a part in the game. Charlottetown was 0-for-1 in regulation and Cape Breton did not have a power play opportunity.

But in OT, both teams began to get in a little bit of penalty trouble, with one being fatal. The Islanders went on the man advantage first when Sokovlov was caught for delay of game 3:49 in to the extra session. That was then canceled out when Charlottetown’s Jordan Maher was called for interference at 4:26, making it a 4-on-4 situation for almost 1:30. Those penalties were killed off with no problem. But at the 10:20 mark, the Islanders took a bench minor for too many men on the ice that they would not recover from.

Sokolov scored on the power play at 11:00 of OT to give Cape Breton the game and the series. They will now move on in the QMJHL playoffs while Xavier Bernard and the Islanders go home.

Speaking of Bernard, he finished the game with a shot and a hit. He also had two penalty minutes – a matching roughing call with Cape Breton’s Nathan Larose at 2:17 of the second period.

Sokolov was the game’s first star while Balmas was the second and Mandolese the third.

The Islanders were 0-for-2 on the power play to finish the night while the Screaming Eagles were 1-for-2. In goal, Mandolese stopped 33 of 36 Charlottetown shots while Matthew Welsh turned aside 25 of 29 Cape Breton shots.

And then there was one. Ty Smith remains the only Devils prospect in North America still vying for a championship. His Spokane Chiefs will begin their second round WHL series with the Everett Silvertips in Everett, Washington on Saturday, April 6 at 10 PM ET.

Just to tie up one other loose end. I quoted Steve Cangialosi as saying on the Devils broadcast last night that NHL referee Tim Peel was retiring at the end of the season. This is apparently not true as Cangialosi tweeted out today that he got that wrong and Peel will be refereeing games next season.

NCAA Tournament, WHL Playoffs Continue

Devils prospects continued to ply their trade with both the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament plugging along towards the Frozen Four and the WHL playoffs continuing on towards the Memorial Cup.

First up today was Jeremy Davies and Northwestern taking on Cornell in the east regional at Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. Northeastern lost this one 5-1 to get eliminated from the NCAA tournament.

Cornell got goals from Morgan Barron, Brenden Locke, Michael Regush, Beau Starrett and Mitch Vanderlaan. Northeastern’s goal was scored by Liam Pecararo with Brandon Hawkins and Davies getting the assist.

Davies’ stat line had his assist for a point, a minus-2 plus/minus rating and three shots on goal.

Northeastern’s lone goal came on the power play, making them 1-for-5 on the afternoon while Cornell was 1-for-1. In goal, Cayden Primeau made 14 saves on 19 Cornell shots. Cornell’s Austin McGrath turned aside 20 of 21 Northeastern shot attempts.

With Davies and Northeastern out of the tournament, the lone Devils hope for an NCAA national championship laid with Matt Hellickson and Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish did not have the luck and lost 4-0 as UMass advanced to the 2019 Frozen Four in Buffalo.

Massachusetts got goals from Oliver Chau, Jake Gaudet, Cale Makar and John Leonard. while goaltender Filip Lindberg stopped all 13 shots he saw.

For the Irish, Hellickson was a minus-1 plus/minus and goalie Cale Morris made 30 saves on a huge 34 shots against.

UMass converted on one of their three power plays while Notre Dame was 0-for-2.

The Minutemen will now advance out of Manchester, New Hampshire to represent the northeastern region in the 2019 Frozen Four. They will play the winner of Denver versus American International in the national semifinals. American International is a great story as they upset the number one seeded St. Cloud State in the first round. Denver – Will Butcher’s alma mater – defeated Ohio State to move on.

Moving over to the Western Hockey League where Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs were looking to eliminate the visiting Portland Winterhawks in game five.

And eliminate they did. The Chiefs won the series four games to one with a convincing 4-1 win in game five. Luke Toporowski and Riley Woods each had two goals for Spokane while netminder Bailey Brkin made 26 saves on 27 shots.

Portland actually took the early 1-0 lead when Cody Glass scored 4:04 into the game. But Spokane scored the next four unanswered, including Toporowski’s first, which came on the power play at 4:52 to give the Chiefs the win and the series.

Ty Smith was a minus-1 plus/minus and had a shot on goal in helping lead his team to the win.

The Winterhawks’ Joel Hofer faced 35 shots and turned aside 31 of them. The Chiefs went 1-for-2 on the power play while Portland was 0-for-4. Toporowski was the first star of the night. Woods took home the second star honors and Brikin was the third star.

Next up, the Chiefs will take on the winnters of the Victoria Royals versus Kamloops Blazers series (currently led by Victoria at three games to two) or the winners of the Everett Silvertips versus Tri-City Americans series (Everett is up three games to one in that one).

We will be back here tomorrow with coverage of the QMJHL series between Charlottetown and Cape Breton.

Devils Lose in OT to Blues

The last time the Devils faced the St. Louis Blues was during St. Louis’ hot stretch in February and they lost 8-3. This time out it was a little bit closer, but still the same result: a 3-2 overtime loss at Prudential Center. The Devils still have not beaten the Blues since 2014.

St. Louis is playing for playoff positioning now having backed into a playoff spot last night due to an Arizona loss, despite the Blues losing to the Rangers and not gaining the point they needed to get in on their own.

The Devils roster was largely the same as last night in Detroit. Sami Vatanen missed a third straight game due to illness. Kurtis Gabriel and Egor Yakovlev were the scratches.

The difference in the lineup was in goal. Cory Schneider got the start tonight as he continues to alternate starts with Mackenzie Blackwood. Speaking of Cory, he was named the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. He mentioned that it is strange to him due to not having to fight a life-threatening illness or anything like last year’s winner Brian Boyle went through. However, his fighting back through injury with grace and dignity to get back to his normal form was enough for him to truly deserve the nomination.

Tonight, Cory made 24 saves on 27 St. Louis shots for an .889 save percentage on the evening. The Blues countered with Jake Allen who made 25 saves on 27 New Jersey shots for a .926 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play with a single shot while the Blues were 0-for-1 with no shots on the power play. They did, however, have three shorthanded shots. The Devils had a big kill late in regulation that preserved the 2-2 tie and sent things to overtime.

One interesting note about one of the game’s referees that Steve Cangialosi mentioned on the MSG+ broadcast was that Tim Peel will be retiring at the end of the season as an NHL official. Also of note is that the Devils have brought in Patrik Elias as an assistant coach during the final run of games during the season. Coach John Hynes mentioned in the pregame that Elias is looking to get more into coaching in the Czech Republic and he will be learning as well as teaching with the Devils down the home stretch here.

The game began with the Devils getting a nice scoring chance early on. Allen misplayed a puck in front of his net and Nico Hischier jumped on it, but Allen got a piece of his shot and it sailed up over the crossbar.

St. Louis got on the board first with a goal at 15:09 of the first. Robert Thomas shook off Devils defenseman Connor Carrick behind the Devils’ net and cut back in front, beating Cory on the backhand. Former Devil Pat Maroon and Tyler Bozak had the assists on the goal.

The Blues escaped a power play to start the second period when they cleared the puck over the glass just as time was expiring. No delay of game penalty was assessed as the officials got together and felt that the puck left play after time had expired in the first period.

It would remain 1-0 Blues until just 4:57 into the second period. The Devils were on the power play set up when Jay Bouwmeester took a tripping call against Kyle Palmieri. Off the rush up the left wing, Kenny Agostino dished to Pavel Zacha. Zacha went to the corner and centered to Drew Stafford. Stafford’s initial shot was stopped by Allen, but Allen could not get the rebound and the Devils had tied the game up at one.

The Devils were looking at going down 2-1 late in the second when Jaden Schwartz was looking at an empty net and Kevin Rooney got his stick on the puck, keeping it out of the net and keeping it 1-1.

But St. Louis would get their 2-1 lead anyway. At 15:56 of the second, on a delayed penalty, Bozak shot through a screen and beat Cory with Maroon stationed in front of the Devils’ net. Bouwmeester and Thomas had the assists on the goal.

But, despite the Devils situation, they did not just lie down for the Blues. Joey Anderson scored his third goal of the year when he redirected a Steven Santini shot from the point by Allen. That goal came at 16:52 of the second and the secondary assist went to Travis Zajac.

Following a scoreless third period that included the Devils kill of a Santini hooking penalty late, the game was still tied up at two and headed for OT.

OT was a back-and-forth affair that saw the teams trade 2-on-1s a few times. The game seemed to be headed to a shootout until, with 2.8 seconds remaining, Vince Dunn made a great individual effort to win it for the Blues. He burst through the New Jersey defense and crashed the net, putting it by Cory to give St. Louis the 3-2 victory and the two points.

Dunn would go on to be named the game’s first star while Bozak was the second and Anderson the third.

Both teams finished the game with 27 shots on goal while the Blues won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils finished with more hits (20-13) and blocked shots (24-16) as well as more giveaways (11-6).

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 24:29 of ice time (including 2:57 on the PP and 1:20 on the PK). Leading the forwards was Blake Coleman with 19:25 (2:24 on the power play and 1:12 shorthanded). Shots were led by Anderson with five, hits by Santini with four, blocks by Severson with five and takeaways by Anderson and Rooney with two each.

Next up, the Devils take on their rivals the Rangers on Monday. The Rangers have dominated the season series so far, so a win would be nice against New York. We will, of course, have coverage here for you as well as a post later on tonight regarding the NCAA tournament and WHL playoffs featuring Devils prospects.

Devils Fall to Red Wings in Busy Day of Hockey

It was a big day for hockey in Devils-land with the NCAA Men’s Division I tournament getting underway, the QMJHL playoffs continuing and the Devils themselves taking on the Red Wings in the Motor City.

We begin in Detroit where the Devils got shut out by the Wings, 4-0. This game was more interesting in the battle between the two teams trying to “Lose for Hughes.” This game would have a good impact on the rights to the loser getting better odds in the upcoming Draft Lottery.

On the roster front, the Devils were still without Sami Vatanen and also had Kurtis Gabriel and Egor Yakovlev out as scratches. One note for the Wings was young Jake Chelios – son of former Red Wing Chris – making his NHL debut tonight.

The goaltending situation was a weird one for Detroit. Jonathan Bernier began the game for the Wings, stopping all 21 shots he saw and getting the W (being the goalie of record). He would, however, leave after the second period due to what the team is calling an upper body injury. Jimmy Howard came in for the third period and stopped seven shots as the two goaltenders combined for the shut out. Mackenzie Blackwood went for the Devils, stopping 29-of-32 Detroit shots for a .906 save percentage on the night.

On special teams, both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play. Detroit had a pair of shots on the power play while the Devils had three (all against Bernier) and two shorthanded shots (both against Howard).

The Red Wings got the goal scoring kicked off when Danny DeKeyser scored at the 13:38 mark of the first from Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. That gave Detroit the 1-0 lead in the first period.

Larkin would put them up 2-0 at 2:21 of the second when he scored his 31st of the season from Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha. Larkin was named the game’s first star with the goal and the assist.

The Devils pulled Blackwood with a little bit more than two minutes remaining in regulation in an effort to get the game tied up and the Red Wings took advantage when Bertuzzi scored unassisted into the empty net at 17:25 to make it 3-0. Bertuzzi was named the game’s second star with that goal and two assists on the evening.

But the Wings were not done, as Andreas Athanasiou scored his 30th of the season with 18:33 gone in the third to make it 4-0. Martin Frk and DeKeyser had the assists. Athanasiou was the game’s third star as he continued to battle late for his goal even when the game was over.

The Devils got out shot 33-28 and lost 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They out hit the Red Wings 44-24 and had more blocks at 13-9. That was also the margin of Devils giveaways to Detroit giveaways (13 for the Devils to the Wings’ nine).

Shots on goal were led by Miles Wood with four. Hits were led by Blake Coleman with eight. Nico Hischier, Connor Carrick and Andy Greene all blocked two shots to lead in that category. Takeaways were led by Kenny Agostino, Coleman, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod and Carrick each with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils fly back to Newark tonight to take on the St. Louis Blues at home tomorrow. St. Louis (in part due their loss at the Rangers tonight) are still looking to clinch a playoff spot and the Devils will be looking for some revenge from their visit to St. Louis earlier in the season. That game is at 7 PM tomorrow and we will have coverage of the Devils’ penultimate home game for you right here.

Now off to the Quebec League where the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles stormed back to take a 3-2 series lead in game five by beating the Charlottetown Islanders 4-3 at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.

Nikita Alexandrov scored the first goal of the game from Daniel Hardie and Lukaas Cormier on the power play 12:43 into the first period to give the Islanders the early 1-0 lead.

But Cape Breton would get four unanswered (all in the second period) from Shawn Boudrias, Shaun Miller, Derek Gentile and Mitchell Balmas to take the 4-1 lead.

Charlottetown tried to fight back, with Kevin Gursoy scoring at 5:07 of the third (with assists to Hardie and Xavier Bernard) to make it 4-2. Alexandrov scored again less than thirty seconds after that to make it 4-3, but that was as close as the Islanders got.

Alexandrov was named the game’s number one star with two goals while Declan Smith of Cape Breton (two assists) was the second star and Hardie (who assisted on all three Islanders goals) was the third star.

Bernard finished the game with the assist for one point, a minus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal and two penalty minutes – a holding penalty 4:12 into the first that also drew an embellishment minor from the Screaming Eagles’ Miller.

Charlottetown finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and Cape Breton was 0-for-3. In nets, Kevin Mandolese made 33 saves on 36 shots for Cape Breton while Charlottetown’s Matthew Welsh stopped 21 of 25 shots.

Game six of this series is Sunday, March 31 and takes place at 7 PM ET at Cape Breton with the Screaming Eagles looking to close things out. We will have continuing coverage of that series for you then.

Finally, our tour of the continent takes us to Manchester, New Hampshire for two games featuring Devils prospects in the NCAA Men’s Tournament first round. FIrst up was Reilly Walsh and Harvard taking on UMass.

The Crimson fell in this one, 4-0 with UMass advancing to the next round of the tournament.

UMass got goals from Anthony Del Gaizo, John Leonard and a pair from Brett Boeing to notch the shut out win. Walsh was a minus-1 and had a shot on net in the loss.

Massachusetts was 0-for-3 on the power play while Harvard was 0-for-2. Michael Lackey made 32 saves on 36 shots against while UMass’s Filip Lindberg had a relatively easy night, stopping all 17 Harvard shots he saw in getting the shut out.

UMass will now go on to face another Devils prospect in the quarterfinals as Notre Dame took out Clarkson, 3-2 in overtime to advance.

The Fighting Irish got goals from Cam Morrison, Bobby Nardella and Colin Theisen while Clarkson could only muster one from Haralds Egle and Marly Quince.

Matt Hellickson was a minus-2 with one shot in the game.

In goal, Notre Dame’s Cale Morris made 20 saves on 22 shots by Clarkson. Clarkson’s Jake Kielly was 35-for-39 in net. Clarkson was 0-for-4 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-3.

As mentioned, Notre Dame will now face off with UMass in the quarterfinals. This game is tomorrow night at 6:30 PM ET. We will have coverage of that one plus Jeremy Davies and Northeastern taking on Cornell tomorrow at 4:30 PM as well. Also tomorrow is game five of the Portland Winterhawks-Spokane Chiefs series in the WHL. In the meantime, have a great weekend everyone!

Screaming Eagles Tie Up Series With Islanders; Chiefs Take Commanding Lead

The playoffs for the Quebec and the Western Hockey Leagues continued tonight with game four of the two series featuring Devils prospects.

In the earlier game, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles trounced the Charlottetown Islanders 6-2 to even up their series at two games apiece. The home team has won each game in this series so far.

Leon Gawanke scored 4:01 into the first to give Cape Breton the early 1-0 lead. This goal came on the power play. Gawanke would go on to record this goal and an assist later on in the game on his way to being named the game’s second star.

The game’s first star, Mitchell Balmas, scored at 9:40 of the first to make it 2-0 Screaming Eagles. He would finish the night with that goal plus two assists for three points.

Charlottetown fought back to tie it with a goal from Jordan Maher midway through the first and one by Nikita Alexandrov midway through the second on the power play. But from here on out, it was all Cape Breton.

Egor Sokolov, the hero from last night, scored the game winner at 13:05 of the second and Derek Gentile (14:38 of the second), Mathias Laferiere (7:34 of the third on the power play) and Brooklyn Kalmikov (13:21 of the third also on the power play) scored insurance goals to make the final score 6-2 Cape Breton.

Laferriere was named the game’s third star with the goal mentioned above and an assist.

In contrast to the WHL series we have been following which has been played extremely clean, this one featured 17 minor penalties and eight misconducts between both teams. Charlottetown was 1-for-3 on the man advantage while Cape Breton was 3-for-8.

Xavier Bernard’s stat line read an even plus/minus, one shot on goal and 2 penalty minutes (a slashing penalty at 3:38 of the first period that led to the first Cape Breton goal of the night) as well as two hits.

Matthew Welsh for the Islanders made 30 saves on 36 shots while Kevin Mandolese for the Screaming Eagles turned aside 23 of the 25 that he faced.

Game five shifts back to Charlottetown on Friday the 29th with a crucial game for both sides.

Meanwhile in the WHL, the Chiefs and the Winterhawks went at it in game four of their series. This was a good one that went to overtime just like game three with the Chiefs winning 4-3 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Ty Smith kicked off the scoring just 31 seconds into the game, giving Spokane a very quick 1-0 lead. But before the second period would begin, the Winterhawks would take the lead.

This started at 9:51 of the first when Brendan De Jong scored to tie and then at 18:30 when Josh Paterson scored to give Portland the 2-1 lead. The Winterhawks would add one more in at the 7:46 mark of the second off the stick of Paterson to take a pretty good 3-1 lead in the game.

But Spokane would fight back. At 3:25 of the third period, they got one from Luke Toporowski to make it 3-2. They would pull goaltender Bailey Brkin for the extra attacker with about two minutes remaining in regulation and it would pay off. Zummack scored with one minute to go in the game to level the contest at three.

In the overtime period, it would only take four minutes and thirty-nine seconds to get a winner. Portland’s Seth Jarvis took a delay of game penalty at the 3:05 mark of OT, putting Spokane on the PP for the third time on the evening. They would find success on this one when Adam Beckman scored to give them the 4-3 victory.

Smith finished the game with the goal (he was originally credited with the secondary assist on the opening goal given to Zummack, but that was later changed), a plus-2 rating and a team-leading five shots on goal (co-leading with Beckman, who also had five shots).

In goal, Brkin made 35 saves on 38 Winterhawk shots while Joel Hofer made 33 saves on 37 Spokane shots. Zummack was named the game’s first star while Paterson of Portland was the second star with the two goals in the losing effort. Clay Hanus, of the Winterhawks, was the third star, registering assists on both of Paterson’s goals.

Spokane finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play, with their crucial game winner coming on the PP. Portland did not have a power play opportunity in the game.

Game five takes place on Saturday, March 30 back in Spokane.

CHL Playoff Series Move to Game Three

The QMJHL and WHL playoffs continued with game threes tonight across both league’s playoff series.

First to to Cape Breton where the Screaming Eagles won a goaltenders’ duel to cut the Charlottetown Islanders’ series lead to 2-1. They won game three tonight 1-0.

Egor Sokolov scored the only goal of the game at 16:26 of the second period with assists to Wilson Forest and Mitchell Balmas. He beat goalie Matthew Welsh to net the game winner. Sokolov would be named the game’s third star while the two goalies (Kevin Mandolese of Cape Breton and Welsh of Charlottetown) took one and two respectively. Mandolese stopped all 26 Charlottetown shots thrown his way while Welsh was equal to 22 of 23 Cape Breton shots.

The Islanders went 0-for-2 on the power play while the Screaming Eagles were 0-for-3.

Devils’ prospect Xavier Bernard’s stat line consisted on an even plus/minus and one shot on goal in the Charlottetown loss.

Charlottetown had pulled Welsh with about two and a half minutes remaining in the game, but to no avail. They were not able to tie things and Cape Breton got the 1-0 win. These two teams will meet again at Centre 200 in Cape Breton for game four tomorrow night (6 PM ET).

Now off to the Western Hockey League where there was also a game three to be played between the Spokane Chiefs and the Portland Winterhawks.

(These series are largely running concurrent to each other between the leagues, so we are at game three in both series.)

This game was from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland and was a real nailbiter, going into overtime before Spokane won it on a Riley Woods goal 9:35 into the extra session to give the 5-4 win to the Chiefs.

The Winterhawks’ Robbie Fromm-Delorme (who would score two goals on the evening and go on to be named the game’s first star in a losing effort) got the scoring started when he gave Portland the 1-0 lead just 1:39 into the game. The Winterhawks would double that at the 6:57 mark of the first when Joachim Blichfeld scored to make it 2-0.

Spokane began their climb back into things at the 16:37 mark of the first period when Luke Toporowski scored to cut the lead in half at 2-1.

They would tie things in the second period on the power play when Luc Smith scored at 5:03. That tied it at two. Coincidentally, after playing a penalty-free game in game two, each team only took one penalty each in this game, with both occurring in the second frame. Spokane was 1-for-1 with the man advantage while Portland was 0-for-1.

With things knotted up at two, the see-saw began to tilt back and forth. First, the Chiefs took their first lead of the night when Ethan McIndoe scored at 5:42 of the second. Portland then scored two unanswered to take back the lead. It began when Jared Freadrich tied it at three at 10:06 of the second. Freadrich was named the game’s third star with that goal and an assist on Blichfeld’s goal back in the first. Portland then retook the lead just 1:44 into the third when Fromm-Delorme potted his second of the night. It was now 4-3 Winterhawks.

But things would shift in the other direction very quickly. At 7:48 of the third period, Jack Finley scored to tie things up at four. Then, when things could not be settled in regulation, we were off to OT.

It only took halfway through that extra session to get our winner. Woods scored at 9:35 and just like that, Spokane had scored two unanswered to win the game and take a 2-1 series edge. Woods would be named the game’s second star.

Ty Smith’s stat line read a plus-1 plus/minus rating and whopping seven shots on net.

Bailey Brkin, the Chiefs goalie, made 28 saves on 32 shots against while Joel Hofer of Portland stopped 38 of 43 Spokane shots.

These teams will get back at it on Wednesday, March 27 in game four as Spokane looks to go up 3-1 in the series. That game is at 10 PM ET from Portland.

In one final note, I neglected to mention my post a few days ago is that the Northeastern University game featuring Jeremy Davies from Providence is on Saturday, March 30 at 4:30 PM. We will try to get coverage up here as soon as we can.

Devils Reel Off Second Straight With W Over Sabres

With six games remaining in the season (including this one) the Devils have little to play for except for pride, jobs and to go out on a high note. After the great win over Arizona on Saturday, they came back tonight and defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 at Prudential Center.

With the win, the Sabres remain winless on the road since January 29 – they came into the night 0-9-2 in that 11 game span – and the Devils take the season series for the fifth straight year against Buffalo.

On the injury front, Nathan Bastian (upper body) skated with the team this morning, but remains out. The Devils got Will Butcher back (he missed two games with a stomach virus), but were missing Sami Vatanen, who was out with illness. Blake Coleman was also a game-time decision with Joey Anderson being recalled from Binghamton as an emergency, but Coleman would end up playing tonight. Egor Yakovlev was a healthy scratch for the Devils.

In goal for Buffalo, Linus Ullmark made 18 saves on 20 shots against for a .900 save percentage on the night. Cory Schneider was between the pipes for New Jersey and faced a season high 46 shots, making an also-season-high 45 saves for a .978 save percentage. Cory would be named the game’s first star at the end of the night.

The power play was a big part of the win for the Devils tonight, as they went 2-for-3. scoring on both power play shots that they had. The Sabres were 0-for-3 with a huge six shots. They also had a shorthanded shot to go along with that.

The two goals the Devils scored with Ullmark in the net both came on the power play, in fact. Coleman had the first one just 1:55 into the game. Rasmus Dahlin was serving a holding penalty that Coleman had drawn. On the ensuing man advantage, Nico Hischier worked the puck along the near wall, getting it to Coleman down low. Coleman then skated out of the near corner, made a power move on Ullmark and beat him to make it 1-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the other assist. Coleman would go on to be named the game’s third star of the night. This goal also broke a five-game Devils power play drought.

Then a weird one. At 7:23, the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart tied the game when he fired a shot from center ice and it kind of short hopped Cory to beat him. It was a kind of embarrassing play for Schneider, but one that he would shake off to come back for the win. It was the only one he surrendered all night off of a barrage of Buffalo shots.

After a scoreless second period, Pavel Zacha would give the Devils back the lead at the 4:30 mark of the third on the power play. Vladimir Sobotka was sent off for hooking Kurtis Gabriel and after the Devils worked the puck around up top, it finally got to Zacha at the far faceoff circle. He fired a shot and it beat Ullmark cleanly with Miles Wood providing the screen in front. Butcher and Kenny Agostino, both working at the point, got the assists on the goal. This made it 2-1 Devils.

A few minutes later, with 13:36 on the clock, Reinhart had seemingly tied it for Buffalo. But the Devils challenged for goalie interference. The replay showed that Evan Rodrigues in front of Cory had bumped him, not allowing him to get set for the shot. Although it seemed that Andy Greene had bumped Rodrigues into Cory, the contact with Cory came before Greene made contact with Rodrigues, if you can follow that. Either way, the goal was waved off after a review and it remained 2-1 Devils.

The Sabres pulled Ullmark with about 1:30 remaining in regulation and Wood scored into the empty net. He kind of blindly threw the puck down the ice into the net with his back turned to the goal. But it counted and made it 3-1. Greene and Zacha, who was named the game’s second star, got the assists.

Buffalo pulled their goaltender again after that and Agostino took a hooking penalty at 19:35 to put the Sabres on the power play to essentially end the game. With about two seconds remaining, the Sabres seemed to have scored again, but the goal was immediately waved off on the ice due to Conor Sheary batting the puck in with a high stick. With that, the faceoff came outside the zone, the puck was dropped and the final buzzer sounded with the Devils gaining the 3-1 win.

The Devils were out shot 46 to 21. They also won the faceoff battle, winning 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had more hits (22-12) and more blocked shots (10-4). They also had more giveaways at 11 to the Sabres’ six.

Individually, a New Jersey Devils single season record was set tonight. Andy Greene had two blocks, which gave him 200 on the season, good to pass Colin White (199) for most blocked shots in a single season. He also leads the NHL in blocked shots as well right now. Those two shots also led the Devils on the night.

Damon Severson led the Devils in ice time (23:04, including 2:13 on the PP and 2:26 on the PK). Zacha led the forwards with 17:23 (1:42 on the PP and 1:11 shorthanded). Shots were led by Coleman with three. Agostino led in hits with four and takeaways were led by Agostino and Kurtis Gabriel with one each.

Next up, the Devils head off to Motown to take on the Red Wings. That game is a 7:30 PM start on Friday. I have a previous engagement and will not be able to watch the game live. I am recording it and will get a write up up as soon as possible.

Also beginning this Friday is the NCAA Men’s Division 1 tournament. The Devils will have three prospects taking part in the festivities. Reilly Walsh and Harvard will take on UMass while Matt Hellickson and Notre Dame will faceoff with JC MacLean (John’s son – who is not a Devils prospect) and Clarkson in the Northeast Regional at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. Those games are on Friday with Harvard’s game at 3 PM and Notre Dame’s at 6:30 PM. Meanwhile, in the East Regional from Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, Jeremy Davies and Northeastern will face Cornell.

We will have all of the information for you right here as those games get underway. In the meantime, have a good week everyone!

CHL Playoffs Continue; Dynamo Moscow Eliminated in KHL

The playoffs continued for a handful of Devils prospects as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Kontinental Hockey League resumed series.

First to the “Q” as Xavier Bernard and the Charlottetown Islanders extended their series lead over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to 2-0 in the first round. This one was a goal-fest as Charlottetown won the game 6-4.

Kevin Gursoy got the game started when he scored at 9:40 of the first period off an assist from Daniel Hardie. The two would reverse roles at 18:16 when Hardie scored with Gursoy getting the primary assist and Lukas Cormier with the secondary.

The second period in this game saw the game get tied up before the Islanders retook the lead. Cape Breton scored 1:06 into the second frame on a goal from Mathias Laferriere to make it 2-1. Mitchell Balmas (who would be named the game’s third star of the night) then evened the game on the power play at 9:22 of the second.

But the Islanders would come roaring back when Hardie (en route to being named the second star) scored his second of the game at 10:59 of the second and Nikita Alexandrov doubled up the Screaming Eagles once again to make it 4-2 at 17:26.

The third period continued the see-saw nature of this game when Leon Gawanke scored for Cape Breton on the power play at 2:06 of that period and then Kyle Havlena scored at 6:30 to once again knot the game, this time at four.

However, with just about six minutes to go in regulation, Cormier (the game’s number one star) notched his second point of the night when he scored the game winner to put Charlottetown up 5-4. Zachary Beauregard added an empty netter at 19:14 and that gave us our final of 6-4.

Bernard had a hit and served a delay of game penalty 23 seconds into the third period to round out his stat line.

For the goaltenders, it was a busy night as Cape Breton’s Kevin Mandolese stopped 28 of 33 shots against. Charlottetown’s Matthew Welsh made 30 saves on 34 shots.

The Islanders ended the night 0-for-2 on the power play while Cape Breton was 2-for-5.

Game three will shift to the Centre 200 in Cape Breton for game three on Tuesday the 26th.

Shifting westward to Spokane, Washington, the Chiefs and Ty Smith and the Portland Winterhawks faced off in game two in Spokane. This one was won by Portland 5-3, evening that series at a game apiece.

The Chiefs jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead at 6:19 of the first period when Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored unassisted. Spokane would double their lead at the 13:19 mark of the second period to 2-0 off the stick of Luc Smith.

From there, however, the Winterhawks took over, scoring four unanswered. Josh Paterson got them to within one at the 15:25 mark of the second and Lane Gilliss tied it at 8:11 of the third.

Paterson then scored his second of the night 1:40 later to put Portland up for good, making it 3-2. Mason Mannek added the game-winner at 12:37 to make it 4-2.

Adam Beckman got the Chiefs back to within one with the goaltender pulled at 17:26. But Matthew Quigley iced it for the Winterhawks when he scored an empty netter 19 seconds after that, giving us our final of 5-3.

Ty Smith finished with an even plus/minus and a shot on net as his stat line.

Amazingly, referees Steve Papp and Ward Pateman put their whistles away for this one. The game was played completely penalty free, giving neither team a power play opportunity.

In net, Joel Hofer stopped 23 of 26 shots against for Portland while Bailey Brkin was on point for 30 of the 34 shots peppering him on the night for Spokane.

The series is now tied and headed to Oregon for game three on Tuesday at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Now off to Russia where Yegor Zaitsev and Dynamo Moscow were eliminated from the KHL playoffs with an overtime loss in game five. With that, Zaitsev and Dynamo will go home and CSKA will move on to the Western Conference Finals to play SKA St. Petersburg. This is a perennial matchup in the KHL playoffs and should be interesting for those following.

As for us, we will have more from the CHL on Tuesday plus the Devils game on Monday against the Sabres. We will also try to gather some information on the NCAA conference tournaments featuring various Devils prospects if we can. Until then, have a nice weekend!

Devils Outlast Coyotes in Shootout

The Devils were home this afternoon to take on the Arizona Coyotes and it was a really close one. New Jersey prevailed in the shootout 2-1 following a nailbiter of an overtime.

The Devils got several crucial parts back in the lineup with Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Mirco Mueller and Sami Vatanen all returning from injury. Will Butcher remained out and Kurtis Gabriel, Blake Pietila (who was actually placed on waivers yesterday) and Egor Yakovlev were all scratched.

In goal, the Devils continued going back-and-forth between Mackenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider to finish off the season with Blackwood going today. He stopped 23 of 24 shots in regulation and OT for a .958 save percentage. He also made four stops in the shootout to lead the Devils to victory. Facing him was Darcy Kuemper for Arizona. He stopped 31 of 32 Devils shots for a .969 save percentage and was named the game’s third star of the afternoon.

Special teams was a sticking point for the Devils today. They were 0-for-5 on the power play with 12 shots as they just peppered Kuemper all afternoon with the man advantage but could not solve the Coyotes penalty kill. Arizona was 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots, which included an overtime 4-on-3 power play when Palmieri was called for cross-checking early in the extra session. Obviously the Devils killed that off to survive. The Devils also added two shorthanded shots on the afternoon.

The first goal of the game was scored by Oliver Ekman-Larsson just 2:31 into the game. He beat Blackwood clean over his glovehand off assists from Alex Galchenyuk and Conor Garland. That made it 1-0 Arizona and things looked bad again for the Devils. The Yotes are fighting for their playoff lives and most in the mostly packed Prudential Center figured this was the beginning of the end for the Devils.

But late in the first the Devils struck back. At the 17:01 mark, Drew Stafford fired a shot that beat Kuemper five hole. Pavel Zacha and Wood had the assists on the goal that leveled the game off at one. Stafford would be named the game’s second star for this goal.

And then we settled in. As mentioned above, the Devils spent five power play opportunities opening up a firing gallery at Kuemper, but he was equal to each task. After a scoreless second and third, we headed off to overtime. It was there that Palmieri took a rough cross-checking call 55 seconds in and things again seemed bleak for New Jersey. But Blackwood rose to the challenge and the Devils’ PK was up to the job as well. The OT ended with both teams playing 4-on-4 due to there being no stoppage of play to get the fourth men off of the ice. Once they killed that off and when OT ended scoreless, we were going to a shootout. These two teams last went to a shootout earlier this calendar year when they were in Arizona.

True to the game’s form, the shootout also came down to the wire. Palmieri went first for the Devils and he was stopped by Kuemper. Nick Cousins finished off the first round for the Coyotes and was stopped by Blackwood. In the second round, Stafford was stopped and so was Galchenyuk for Arizona. The third round saw Damon Severson for New Jersey who was stopped and Vinnie Hinostroza for the Yotes who was also stopped. Next up, the fourth round and Hischier and Clayton Keller were each turned aside.

The Devils finally broke through in the sixth round when Blake Coleman scored to put the Devils ahead. But Garland also connected in the bottom of the sixth for Arizona and we were back to square one. In the top of the seventh, Zacha scored for the Devils and when the Coyotes’ Richard Panik hit the crossbar in the bottom half of the round, the Devils had scored the 2-1 win. Zacha was named the game’s first star with the game-winner in the shootout and an assist on Stafford’s first period goal.

The Devils had the upper hand in shots at 32-24, but lost 60-percent of the game’s faceoffs as the Coyotes just dominated in the circle. The Devils also led in hits (18-13) and blocked shots (14-11) and had more giveaways at six to the Yotes’ five.

Individual stats saw Coleman lead in shots with five, Kenny Agostino lead in hits with three, Mueller lead in blocks with three and Agostino, Stafford, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod, Steven Santini, Mueller, Severson and Vatanen all lead in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils will continue at Prudential Center on Monday when they take on the visiting Buffalo Sabres. We will have coverage of that for you here then. Later tonight we will also have a post up on the CHL playoffs featuring Devils prospects. Have a great weekend everyone!

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.