Devils Demolished by Leafs, 7-2

The gap between the Devils and some of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference has never been more apparent than the games between them and Tampa Bay and against Toronto. Tonight they fell 7-2 to the Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center.

The Devils had one subtraction from their lineup and two additions. The team put goaltender Cory Schneider on injured reserve with an abdominal strain. In his place, Mackenzie Blackwood was recalled from AHL Binghamton. He would see action tonight following a potential injury to Keith Kinkaid that bears keeping an eye on. The other addition was Taylor Hall returning to the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower body injury.

Toronto was coming in with two faces the Devils did not see in their trip there on November 9. Auston Matthews was injured when New Jersey visited the Leafs last and William Nylander was still holding out as a restricted free agent. Matthews is now healthy and Nylander signed a contract on December 1. They would both be in the lineup tonight for Toronto. Lucky Devils.

For the Devils, with Hall slotting back in up front, Drew Stafford was back as a healthy scratch joining d-men Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev.

In goal, the Danish goalie Frederik Andersen went for the Maple Leafs, making 27 saves on 29 shots against. For the Devils, Keith Kinkaid started and played the first two periods, making 16 saves on 21 shots. He collided with Ben Lovejoy midway through the second and, though he made the save on the play, seemed a bit shaken up. That might not have been the reason he gave the net up to Blackwood, but it could have contributed. Blackwood, as mentioned, came on in the third period, making his NHL debut. He stopped eight of the ten shots he faced, including his first NHL save: a save on a breakaway by Zach Hyman. Not a bad start. He also became the first Devils goalie since Martin Brodeur to wear the number 29 in a game.

The Devils fell behind early, at 6:01 when John Tavares scored from Nazem Kadri and Matthews. Nico Hischier opted not to shoot on a 2-on-1 just prior to the play and had the pass broken up by the Leafs. Toronto then went down the ice with a 3-on-1 when Tavares scored. It was 1-0 Toronto.

The lead would double to 2-0 1:57 later when Matthews scored a controversial goal unassisted. He pushed Damon Severson into Kinkaid and, when Kinkaid was unable to hold on to a puck, Matthews was right there on the doorstep, all alone to sweep it in. Severson had tried to clear the puck from the crease with his hand, but only served to give it directly to Matthews. The Devils used their coach’s challenge, alleging goalie interference. The call on the ice of good goal stood. The explanation was that because Severson could play the puck, incidental contact with the goalie was allowed and it was a good goal.

One thing that Ken Daneyko brought up on the MSG+ broadcast was that Matthews pushing Severson in the first place could have been interference on Severson since he did not have the puck. But that went uncalled and the goal stood, it was now 2-0 Leafs.

The ageless Patrick Marleau would make it 3-0 at 13:38 when he scored from Kadri (who ended the game with three assists and was named the game’s third star) and Travis Dermott. The Devils could not clear the puck from the zone and Kadri centered the puck to Marleau. His initial shot was saved by Kinkaid but Marleau put the rebound by to triple their lead.

The Devils would get on the board late in the first period when Sami Vatanen scored from Brian Boyle to make it 3-1 at 18:44. Vatanen let a shot go from the point that just cleanly beat Andersen under the crossbar and down. It was a cannon of a shot and seemed to give the Devils some hope as the game was following a similar pattern to Friday’s comeback versus the Golden Knights.

The pattern looked to followed even closer when Mitch Marner scored just 1:45 into the second period. He scored when Tavares hit the crossbar and the rebound came right to him. The disappointing thing about this goal is that the Devils had spent the first 1:30 or so of the second period applying pressure in the Toronto zone but could not score. This goal put the Devils down by three again at 4-1.

With that assist, Tavares had his second point of the night, a goal and that assist. He was named the game’s second star. Auston Matthews, also with a goal and an assist, was the game’s first star.

Morgan Rielly made it 5-1 with 0.8 seconds remaining in the period when he scored on a nice shot from the point that beat Kinkaid clean. Kadri and Connor Brown had the assists on that goal. The blowout was on.

The Devils would gain a bit of retribution when Nico Hischier scored at the 14:47 mark of the third. Hall won a puck battle behind the Leafs’ net, came out from behind and whipped a pass to Nico. Hischier did not miss on this one, burying it to make the score 5-2. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist. There was little celebration on the Devils side of things, however.

Tyler Ennis would add two goals to cap things off for the Leafs, scoring at 16:28 from Brown and Par Lindholm and at 18:30 from Jake Gardiner and Brown to make it 6-2 and then 7-2, which was our final. Those were the first two goals let up by Blackwood in his NHL career.

So for the Devils, it was not a good night to say the least. On special teams, both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play as the Devils did not register a shot with the extra skater. The Leafs had one shot on the power play and one shorthanded. New Jersey actually finished the game on the power play as Toronto was called for delay of game with just about a minute to go in the game.

Statistically, the Maple Leafs out shot the Devils 31-29 while the Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also out hit Toronto 14-6. The Leafs had more blocked shots (nine to the Devils’ six) and the Devils had twice as many giveaways at 12 to the Leafs’ six.

Individually, Vatanen led all Devils skaters with 22:13 TOI (including 2:42 of power play time and 1:32 of PK time). Travis Zajac led all forwards with 19:05 of time on ice (2:12 on the PP/ 3:23 killing penalties). Shots on goal were led by Miles Wood with five, hits were led by Blake Coleman with four, blocked shots by Severson with two and takeaways by Hall with two.

Next up, the Devils will travel to Ohio on Thursday to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils have now lost ten of their last 12 games and will look to right the ship in Columbus. That will be a tough hill to climb as the Jackets are one of the better teams in the Metropolitan Division. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM and we will have coverage for you right here.

Devils Fall in Shootout in Nashville

Well, that was some kind of hockey game!

The Devils and the Nashville Predators put on a show of tight-checking defensive hockey with spurts of end-to-end action that was just incredible. In the end, the Devils came back to gather a point only to fall in a shootout, 2-1.

About 24 hours after Nico Hischier became the youngest player in Devils history to score an overtime goal (at 19 years and 344 days according to MSG’s Erika Wachter) in the comeback win yesterday over Vegas, the Devils were right back at it at Bridgestone Arena. This was the sixth back-to-back of the season for the Devils and they have yet to win the second game of one this year.

For the second game in a row, the Devils would be without Taylor Hall. He is still suffering from lower body soreness. Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches for New Jersey as they went with largely the exact lineup from last night against the Golden Knights.

But if the Devils had no Taylor Hall, they would get no sympathy from the Predators. Nashville is still missing some good firepower: Viktor Arvidsson, PK Subban and Filip Forsberg to name a few.

In goal, after Cory Schneider’s debacle in his first home start yesterday, the Devils went back to Keith KInkaid tonight and he was largely brilliant. He made 27 saves on 28 Preds shots and four saves in six rounds of the shootout. Opposing him was “the best backup in the business” in Juuse Saros. He stopped 33 of 34 Devils shots and made a further four saves in the shootout (the Devils had one miss).

Nashville was hot early. They hit the post on their first power play of the night at about the midway point of the first period. On the night, the Preds were 0-for-2 with no shots on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-4 with four shots. Both teams also had a shorthanded shot as well on the special teams.

The Predators finally broke the seal on the game at the 18:43 mark of the first period when Frederick Gaudreau scored from Mikka Salomaki and Mattias Ekholm. On that goal, Kinkaid made the initial save but kicked the rebound into the slot for Gaudreau all alone. The initial shot from Salomaki was from an impossible angle that somehow made its way towards Kinkaid. It was now 1-0 Nashville and in a building like the Bridgestone Arena, where the fans can get loud and really affect the game, that was not a good thing.

The Devils would have about 1:30 of power play time on fresh ice in the second period when Kevin Fiala took a high sticking penalty on Brett Seney. They obviously did not score but it was not just the Devils’ power play that struggled today.

At 10:37 of the second, Ben Lovejoy took a hooking penalty and the Predators seemingly tied it on a Roman Josi goal. Kinkaid immediately went to captain Andy Greene and told him to tell the bench that he was interfered with. Coach John Hynes decided to use the team’s coach’s challenge to see if goaltender interference did occur. The replay showed that Colton Sissons was cutting through the crease and did, in fact, bump into Kinkaid’s glove hand, not allowing the goalie to get set for the shot. The call on the ice of a good goal was reversed and the goal was called back. The game was still 1-0 Nashville.

And that is how it would stay until late in the third. There were some great chances, including midway through through the third period when Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier broke in on a 2-on-0 on Saros. Johansson tried to pass to Nico only to have the play broken up by a backchecking Nick Bonino. That led to a partial breakaway at the other end that Kinkaid had to stop.

Kinkaid was pulled with about 2:15 left in regulation and the Devils were in for some late minute magic again. This time off the stick of Brian Boyle. It happened when Jesper Bratt made a nice one-handed effort to get the puck over the Nashville blue line to Johansson. Johansson then skated it up the right wing. He fired on net and the rebound came right to Boyle in the slot. Much like Gaudreau’s goal earlier, he made no mistake and buried it behind Saros to tie it up at one with about 1:31 remaining in the game.

When the buzzer sounded on regulation, we were off to overtime for a second consecutive night. And at three-on-three, both teams just let it all hang out. Back-and-forth, end-to-end action that decided nothing thanks to some stellar goaltending and defensive play by both teams. And when OT could not decide things, it was off to the skills competition. The Predators have not lost a game to an Eastern Conference opponent so far this year and things would not change here.

Kinkaid began the shootout with a save on Kyle Turris. Kyle Palmieri went first for the Devils in the bottom of the first and scored. Ryan Ellis evened things out in the top of the next round when he beat Kinkaid. Drew Stafford was then stopped by Saros. In the next round, Calle Jarnkrok was stopped by Kinkaid and Boyle by Saros. Fiala was stopped by Kinkaid next and Bratt missed the net. In the fifth round, Kinkaid saved a shot by Craig Smith and Saros stoned Hischier. Ryan Johansen finally broke through in the sixth round for the Predators and the game was on John Quenneville’s stick. He could not score and that was that, as Nashville pulled out the extra point.

In the game overall, the Devils won 48-percent of the faceoffs, were out hit 34-12 and the Preds had more blocked shots at 15 to 10. Nashville also finished with more giveaways (15 to 12). The three stars were all from the Predators: Saros was the first star while Johansen was the second and Gaudreau was the third.

Individually for the Devils, Sami Vatanen was back to being the workhorse with 25:28 of total ice time (including 4:02 on the power play and 1:43 on the penalty kill). Hischier led the forwards with 21:47 total time (logging 3:33 on the PP and nine seconds on the PK). Vatanen also led in shots on goal with five while hits were led by Vatanen and Brett Seney, who each had two apiece. Greene led in blocked shots with five and takeaways were led at one by Stafford, Blake Coleman and Lovejoy.

Next up, the Devils come back home on Tuesday for an early week tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That game is another stiff challenge and puck drop is at 7 PM on the 18th. We will, of course, have that for you right here.

Devils Complete Comeback, Defeat Golden Knights in OT

In what was a wild game at The Rock last night, the Devils finally won a game in extra time, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in the team’s second meeting ever in Newark.

It was a crazy game that involved the Devils starting goalie being chased before the first period was even over and an overtime goal that would be reviewed before the game was finally ruled over.

The Devils would be without their biggest star for the game. Taylor Hall missed due to “lower body soreness” as he left practice early yesterday and this morning with the injury. Stefan Noesen was also placed on injured reserve. In the MSG+ pregame, it was said that he was suffering from an illness. Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches. Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense while John Quenneville was recalled from Binghamton to fill in up front.

The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider start for the Devils against Marc-Andre Fleury. Schneider faced seven shots, letting in three of them. Keith Kinkaid came in in relief with about ten minutes to play in the first period. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots that he saw. Vegas ended the game with a total of 22 shots on goal. Fleury stopped 37 of the Devils’ 42 shots. You read that right. The Devils peppered Fleury with almost twice as many shots as the Knights fired at Devils goaltending.

But, as mentioned, early on, the Golden Knights scored early and often. Alex Tuch scored at 1:19 of the first from Oscar Lindberg and Nate Schmidt. That gave Vegas a 1-0 lead on just two shots on goal. William Karlsson found the back of the net a few minutes later at 7:45 from Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden McNabb. That made it 2-0. William Carrier would put Vegas up 3-0 at the 9:23 mark of the first from Ryan Reaves on a goal that kind of handcuffed Cory from a few feet out and that he ended up knocking into his own net with his catching glove. That was the goal that chased Schneider back to the locker room.

Vegas nearly scored on Kinkaid late in the first when the puck was ruled to not have crossed the goal line completely. Credit Kyle Palmieri with clearing the puck out from behind Kinkaid. The play was reviewed, but the call on the ice stood as no goal.

It was an almost insurmountable 3-0 Vegas lead heading into the second. But the Devils would begin to chip away. It began when New Jersey got on the board. Just 2:28 into the new period, Colin Miller took an interference call against Quenneville. That set up a Devils power play and Travis Zajac would connect at 2:59. It came when Jesper Bratt found Marcus Johansson down low below the Vegas goal line. He tic-tac-toed it to Zajac, set up in the slot, and Zajac scored. That made it 3-1.

But just after that goal was scored, Palmieri was nabbed for slashing Reilly Smith at 3:24. It was a somewhat weak call to say the least, but it stood and the Devils were going to have to kill a penalty off. It would only take 33 seconds on the ensuing man advantage for Karlsson to make it 4-1. As the Devils’ goal was being announced over the PA system, Karlsson scored his 13th from Smith and Marchessault.

Overall, on the power play, the Devils were 1-for-5 with seven shots while the Golden Knights were 1-for-3 with three shots (all on Kinkaid). The Devils were down by three in the game again. But amazingly, the comeback was about to begin.

At the 10:21 mark of the second, Miles Wood cut the Vegas lead in half when he scored from Blake Coleman and Zajac. It happened when the puck pin-balled around the Knights’ goal mouth before finally ending up on the stick of Wood in the slot. He snapped off a shot that beat Fleury glove side to make it 4-2 Vegas.

In the third period, Kyle Palmieri would draw the Devils to within one when he scored unassisted at the 6:24 mark. That one came when Vegas won the draw deep in their defensive zone, but could not corral the puck. Palmieri single-handedly then jumped on the loose puck and, with Deryk Engelland draped all over him, scored on a wraparound. That one made it 4-3.

The Devils would tie things up at the 14:55 mark when Brett Seney picked a great time to score his third career NHL goal, unassisted to tie things up at four apiece. This one occurred when the Devils collapsed down low, forcing a scramble in front of the Vegas net before the puck was accidentally swept behind Fleury by Knights defenseman Nick Holden. Amazingly and against all odds, the Devils had tied it up.

But overtime has been no sure thing for New Jersey as they had yet to win one this season once regulation ended.

They would waste no time tonight, however. Just 41 seconds into the OT, Nico Hischier scored from Johansson to give the Devils their first overtime win of the 2018-19 season. It happened when Nico and Johansson criss-crossed into the Vegas zone, Johansson fed Hischier on a cut towards the net and Nico shot, but the rebound was accidentially put into his own net by Karlsson as he was trying to clear. The Devils had done it and without one of their best overtime performers too, in Hall.

It was a seemingly hard-earned two points that were in jeopardy of being taken away. The goal was reviewed by Toronto to see if the Devils had gone in offside. The call on the ice – good goal – ended up standing and the Devils were given the victory. It was a good thing too, since the Golden Knights had completely left the ice just after the goal was scored. Should they have had to have been called back out of the locker room, it would have been a strange sight.

Hischier was named the game’s first star, Zajac the second and Vegas’ Karlsson the third.

So, in getting the win, the Devils outshot the Knights 42-22, won 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at nine to the Knights’ four. Vegas out hit the Devils 15-12 and blocked more shots at 11-8.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:08 of ice time (4:42 on the power play, 48 seconds shorthanded) as his role continues to grow more and more. Hischier led the forwards with 19:47 (4:24 on the PP and 31 seconds on the PK). Palmieri led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with four, Andy Greene led in blocks with two and takeaways were led by Zajac, Ben Lovejoy and Sami Vatanen, who each had one.

Next up, it is the back half of another back-to-back as the team travels to Nashville to take on the Predators in less than 24 hours after I post this. That game is at 8 PM tomorrow and we will, of course, have the recap for you right here.

Devils Fall to Sharks in California Finale

Coach John Hynes felt that a good trip for the Devils on their three game West Coast swing would be accruing between four and six points. They fell one short of that goal by gaining only three. New Jersey fell last night to the Sharks in San Jose, 5-2.

The Devils had scored 11 goals on 70 shots combined in the games in Los Angeles and Anaheim. Tonight they just did not have it. They only mustered two goals on just 24 shots on net. They Devils had beaten San Jose 3-2 at Prudential Center back on October 14, but that seems a season ago now.

The only two changes to the roster tonight, on the second half of a back-to-back, were Drew Stafford slotting in at forward for Stefan Noesen and Keith Kinkaid starting between the pipes in place of Cory Schneider. Former Shark Mirco Mueller and Steven Santini were the other New Jersey scratches.

Kinkaid made 29 saves on 34 Sharks shots. Going for San Jose was Martin Jones who stopped 22 of the aforementioned 24 Devils shots.

For the Devils, the change of putting Stafford in the lineup paid immediate dividends. He scored the game’s first goal at the 12:05 mark of the first period. Damon Severson and Andy Greene had the assists. The goal came when Stafford rushed the puck up the right wing boards. He shot from a tight angle and the puck squibbed between the post and Jones’ left arm. It was Stafford’s first goal of the season and it made it 1-0 Devils.

But once again, the Devils jumped out to an early lead only to squander it a few minutes later. This time Timo Meier scored his first of two on the night at 15:51 of the first to tie it up at one. This was a tough one as Sami Vatanen gave the puck away at the Sharks’ blue line, having his pocket picked by Tomas Hertl and Meier scored off of the rush.

Joe Pavelski would give the Sharks their first lead of the evening a little less than three minutes later at 18:03. Brenden Dillon shot from the point and Pavelski shoveled the rebound by Kinkaid to make it 2-1 San Jose. Erik Karlsson had the secondary assist on the goal and the Sharks would not look back.

The second period started positively for the Devils when Kinkaid stopped an odd man rush by the Sharks, but at the 7:19 mark, Radim Simek found the back of the net for his first NHL goal. He took a shot from the point that had eyes and beat Kinkaid cleanly on his short side. Lukas Radil and Brent Burns had the assists on the goal that would make Simek the game’s third star (Pavelski was the second and Timo Meier with his two goals was the first).

The Devils seemed to be back in things when Andy Greene scored from Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier at 8:59 of the second to cut the San Jose lead to one at 3-2. It occurred when Palmieri made a nice power move towards the net off the rush. He muscled the puck back to a trailing Greene who put the pass by Jones to score his first of the season, his first goal in 66 games as a matter of fact.

But one goal was as close as the Devils would get in this game. At 14:52 of the second, Meier scored his second of the game from Joonas Donskoi. A Devils power play had just ended and Meier was given a lot of time and space on a 2-on-2, which according to MSG+ analyst Ken Daneyko, was played more like a 2-on-1 by the Devils. This goal once again doubled the Sharks lead to 4-2.

The game was put away by San Jose when, at 14:14, the Devils were assessed a rough delay of game penalty and the Sharks wasted no time on the power play. Hertl scored from former New Jersey Rockets youth player and Brooklyn native, Kevin Labanc and Pavelski. Labanc took a shot from the point and Kinkaid made the initial save, but Hertl was able to put the rebound past the diving goalie to make it 5-2. On the power play, the Sharks went 1-for-2 with a total of two shots. The Devils were 0-for-2 with two shots as well.

New Jersey finished the game winning a paltry 37-percent of the game’s faceoffs and were outshot by ten (34 to 24). The Devils narrowly out hit the Sharks 14-13, had more blocked shots at 14 to 10 and less giveaways at 10 to San Jose’s 13.

Individually, time on ice was led by Will Butcher, playing 22:40 (including 2:04 on the power play). The red hot Kyle Palmieri – he had two goals in each of the first two games in California – led all forwards with 17:29 of ice time (including 1:37 on power play and six seconds while the team was down a man). Shots on goal were led by Marcus Johansson with five, hits were led by Blake Coleman with three, blocked shots were led by Brian Boyle and Miles Wood with two each and takeaways were led by Damon Severson with three.

And with that, the Devils will return home to the East Coast and have a few days to get their house in order before the Vegas Golden Knights come calling on Friday at 7 PM. I will be attending this game at The Rock, so my write up on it will be a little bit late, but I will try to get it up on the site as soon as possible.

Devils Drop First Shootout of Season in Anaheim

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.

Devils Double Up Kings, Win 6-3

California has not been kind to the Devils over the last few years. They are 1-5-0 against the state’s three NHL clubs in the last two years on the road. The only team they have beaten in that span was the Los Angeles Kings. That continued tonight as the Devils defeated LA, 6-3 at Staples Center.

Firstly, I would like to get some house cleaning out of the way. Some news I did not mention here on the blog in the last few days saw Chuck Fletcher, who was serving as a special assistant to Ray Shero since this past summer, has left the team. He is the new general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, moving down the Turnpike to take over the job last held by Ron Hextall who was abruptly fired last week.

Now to the topic at hand. The Devils were looking forward to this California trip as a change of scenery. They had not won a road game since November 15 and needed this trip to regroup. The Kings have been on a downward trend this year, currently standing in last overall in the NHL. They fired coach John Stevens last month and are trying to move forward. The Devils let them hang in there, but were able to put them away when they needed to and won the game.

For the Devils, roster-wise, Mirco Mueller was out as a healthy scratch on defense while Egor Yakovlev got to play another game (he scored his first career NHL goal against Tampa in the last game). Steven Santini and Drew Stafford were the other scratches. LA was missing our old friend Ilya Kovalchuk, out on injured reserve with ankle surgery.

In goal, it was right back to Keith Kinkaid for the Devils following a rough outing against the Lightning. He made 29 saves on 32 Kings shots. Keith was good tonight, stopping Tyler Toffoli on a breakaway late in the second period, shutting the door when Toffoli tried to go five hole. Facing him was Jonathan Quick, who made 29 saves on 34 shots against. The Devils also had an empty net goal and thus finished with 35 shots total.

The Devils got the scoring going at the 13:49 mark of the first period on the power play. Kyle Palmieri scored his first of two on the night en route to being named the game’s second star. It came when Dion Phaneuf was called for high sticking Nico Hischier at 12:01. While on the man advantage, Taylor Hall faked a shot at the top of the far faceoff circle before passing to Palmieri at the near faceoff dot. Palmieri then roofed one over Quick to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. Will Butcher had the secondary assist.

With that power play goal, the Devils had just two goals in 21 power play attempts. On the night they were 1-for-2 with five shots. LA was 0-for-1 with no PP shots but did register a shorthanded shot.

The Kings would not wait long to tie things up. At the 15:41 mark of the first, Brendan Leipsic scored off a shot that he just snapped by Kinkaid. Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez had the assists on that one. That goal came just moments after a non-call on an Anze Kopitar high stick on Kyle Palmieri. With that, we finished the first period where we began it: tied.

But it would only take the Devils 25 seconds into the second to retake the lead. In what would become a wild second frame, Travis Zajac scored unassisted to make it 2-1. It came when Blake Coleman had a couple of swipes at scoring before the puck trickled to Zajac in the slot. He fired and beat Quick and New Jersey had retaken the lead.

However, that would not last long either. At the 6:59 mark of the second, Drew Doughty, Austin Wagner and Adrian Kempe broke in to the Devils’ zone on an odd man rush. Kempe would tip a Doughty pass by Kinkaid to make it 2-2. Wagner had the secondary assist and we were tied up once again.

Then, at the 10:57 mark, Palmieri notched his second of the night from Hall when, on the rush and with the puck wobbling on his stick, Palmieri used Muzzin as a screen and shot through him to beat Quick and make it 3-2 Devils.

The Devils would double up their lead less than two minutes later at 12:28 when Butcher scored from Miles Wood and Zajac. This was a weird one as Butcher’s shot was actually redirected by a Kings player – Phaneuf – changing direction on Quick and clearly handcuffing him.

The Devils now had a two goal lead and that would seem to be in jeopardy with 6:23 remaining in the period when Muzzin had seemingly scored. He shot from a strange angle along the far part of the goal line and the puck seemed to go under the crossbar and in drop down in. Play continued for a few seconds until the Devils touched the puck and a review was initiated by Toronto. The call on the ice was no goal and replays showed that the puck hit the crossbar without entirely crossing the line, hit the far post and came out. The result was that the call on the ice stood: no goal. It was still 4-2 New Jersey.

However, that would not last much longer after the non goal. At 17:37, Kyle Clifford scored unassisted after Kinkaid made a save, then poked the rebound directly to Clifford, who fired one behind him. Kinkaid was trying to get the puck over to Damon Severson, but some miscommunication led to Clifford scoring. The Kings were back within one at 4-3.

That is where it was heading into the third period, where the Devils would finally break away. At 11:06, Nico Hischier scored from Sami Vatanen and Hall to add an insurance goal and make it 5-3. Nico redirected a Vatanen shot by Quick to score this one. This sort of made up for earlier in the first period when Nico had an empty net to shoot on and Kings defenseman Derek Forbort blocked his shot and made a remarkable save for Quick, who was out of position.

Quick would be pulled with about 1:50 left in the game for the extra attacker and, after a few icings and missed opportunities, Blake Coleman would finally bury a shot from long distance into the empty net to give us our final of 6-3. Andy Greene and Severson had the assists on the empty netter.

In the end, four Devils players had multiple point nights: Palmieri (two goals), Zajac (one goal, one assist), Hall (three assists) and Butcher (one goal and one assist). Hall was named the game’s first star. Los Angeles’ Kempe was the third star.

The Devils had a better night in the faceoff circle, winning 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Kings 23 to 18 and had less giveaways at 12 for LA and eight for the Devils. The Kings had more blocked shots at 17-12.

Sami Vatanen led all skaters in time on ice with 24:39 (1:28 on the power play and 16 seconds of shorthanded time) while Hall led the forwards with 19:34 (2:29 of PP time). Vatanen also led in shots on goal with six while Coleman led in hits with seven. Blocks were led by Greene and Severson who each had two and takeaways were led by Hall with one.

Next up, the Devils continue on in California by traveling to Anaheim. The Ducks have been hot of late, winning five straight. That game is an earlier start at 8 PM Eastern and we will have it for you right here.

Devils Fall to Lightning, 5-1

The Devils have finished up their season series with the Tampa Bay Lightning and to that, I say good riddance. The Devils ended the 2018-19 season 0 and 3 against Tampa, losing last night 5-1 at Prudential Center.

The Devils slotted Will Butcher back into the lineup on defense. Steven Santini remained the defenseman to be out. Drew Stafford and Jesper Bratt were the healthy scratches up front while Stefan Noesen drew back in.

The goaltending matchup saw Keith Kinkaid start for the Devils, making 16 saves on 20 shots faced. He was pulled before the start of the third period in favor of Cory Schneider, who continues to suffer some struggles. He let in the first shot he saw from Tampa, making five saves on six shots. The Lightning finished the game with a total of 26 shots. Opposing them was Louis Domingue, who would go on to be named the game’s third star. He stopped 26 of 27 shots from the Devils.

New Jersey got behind the eight ball early, conceding a goal 13:31 into the first period to Nikita Kucherov off assists to Brayden Point and Ryan McDonagh. That made it 1-0 and the Lightning train just rolled on from there.

Point scored a little over six minutes later at 19:34 from Kucherov and Victor Hedman on the power play. This was set up when Egor Yakovlev took a slashing penalty at 18:49. On the power play Tampa was 2-for-3 on the night with three shots. The Devils were a very sluggish 0-for-4 on the man advantage with seven shots. They also had one shorthanded shot.

The second period was another rough one for the Devils. Tyler Johnson scored 8:20 in from McDonagh and Kucherov. It was now 3-0 and the Devils seemed to be reeling.

But they would get one back to cut the Bolts’ lead to just two when Yakovlev scored at 11:26 from Sami Vatanen and Noesen. It came when Noesen won the faceoff deep in the offensive zone directly to Vatanen. He quickly found a seam for Yakovlev backdoor and Yakovlev snapped a shot by the right-catching Domingue’s glove hand. That made it 3-1 and was also the 27-year-old rookie’s first NHL goal. He played a few years in the KHL before coming over to North America, but has now notched a goal in the NHL.

Unfortunately for the Devils, as the Yakovlev goal was being announced to the crowd, Tampa’s Yanni Gourde was making it 4-1 at 12:39. He got assists from Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.

Late in the second period, at 19:52, Blake Coleman was called for slashing Erik Cernak. That penalty would have almost 1:50 of carry over time to the third period, on fresh ice. Also, the Devils decided to switch goalies going into the third with Schneider coming in. All of this was a bit of a recipe for disaster for the Devils.

And sure enough, just 20 seconds into the third frame, Stamkos scored from Point and Kucherov on the power play to make it 5-1. Point would go on to be named the game’s second star with a goal and two assists. Kucherov was the first star with a goal and three assists.

And that was it. While Tampa essentially played keep away from the Devils the rest of the game, they quickly rolled to two more points while New Jersey suffered just their second regulation loss on home ice this season.

In terms of the overall game, the Devils won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Bolts 23-19, had one more blocked shot then them at eight to seven and had less giveaways at four for the Devils to Tampa’s eight.

The Devils looked to Damon Severson to be a minutes eater, as he logged 19:24 of ice time to lead all New Jersey skaters (including 3:37 on the power play and 14 seconds on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 19:07 (4:05 on the PP, 2:35 on the PK). Marcus Johansson led the team in shots on goal with four while hits were led by Noesen with four as well. Blocked shots were co-led by Taylor Hall and Yakovlev who each had two and takeaways were led by Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Noesen and Andy Greene who all had one.

Next up, the Devils get out of Dodge and head for California. They will face the Los Angeles Kings in LA on Thursday to begin a three game road trip against the California teams. That game is at 10:30 PM Eastern on Thursday night/Friday morning and we will have that for you right here.

Devils Lose Heartbreaker in OT to Jets

The Devils have lost a good amount of overtime games this season, but somehow this one hurt more than any of the others. They fought valiantly but ended up losing in the extra period 4-3 at Prudential Center. The Devils fought back from a 3-1 deficit late in the third period to force OT but were not able to get the two full points.

The Devils were happy to see November go as they had only picked up 11 points in the month and just had a dreadful time of things. In addition to that, they came into this game having scored only one power play goal in 23 chances over their last ten games. That would reverse itself tonight, but they will still be glad to see the calendar turn.

Will Butcher was a healthy scratch for the first time this season as the coaching staff decided that it would be a good for him to see things from up top for a game, just to refresh his outlook. He joined Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini as scratches while Drew Stafford slotted in up front and Egor Yakovlev was in on the blue line. Mikey McLeod was sent back to Binghamton after making his NHL debut last night in Washington.

One guy scratched for the other team was forward Brendan Lemieux. He is the son of 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Devils, Claude Lemieux. Claude was on hand to do commentary on MSG+ with Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko – a nice treat for fans watching at home.

One guy that the Devils would have to deal who was in the lineup for Winnipeg was Patrik Laine. Laine was named the NHL’s first star for the month of November. He had a five-goal game against St. Louis on November 24 and would be someone the Devils would need to contain. The Devils would not need to worry about big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who missed his second straight game with a concussion.

In nets, Keith Kinkaid played both games of the back-to-back for the first time this season. He would be really good, especially in the OT period as he stopped 34 of the Jets’ 38 shots. Across the rink was Laurent Brossoit, the Jets backup who made 36 saves on 39 Devils shots against. He was starting the first of a back-to-back for the Jets, who play tomorrow against the Rangers at the Garden.

This game would finish up the season series between the two teams, the first such series conclusion for the Devils. Pregame saw the Devils hold a tribute and moment of silence for former President George HW Bush, who passed away yesterday, just prior to the national anthems.

One other note before we get to the game details. Last night, Taylor Hall was credited with an assist on Nico Hischier’s goal. The assist was given after the game by the NHL, but it was the 500th point of his NHL career. Congratulations to Hall on hitting that milestone.

The Devils would strike first on the big board, as they really spent a lot of time in the offensive zone during the opening period. Marcus Johansson hit the back of the net from Jesper Bratt at the 6:45 mark of the first period. It occurred when Bratt rushed up the right wing boards following a big save at the other end by Kinkaid and dropped to Johansson just inside the Winnipeg blue line. Johansson shot and had his initial output blocked in front by a Jets defender. He grabbed the puck right back and buried it behind Brossoit stick side. That gave the Devils the quick 1-0 lead.

It would stay that way for almost a full period. At the 4:25 mark of the second, Mark Scheifele scored his first of two on the night when, just like the Devils’ first goal, Brossoit made a big save for the Jets at one end and Blake Wheeler grabbed it and fed Scheifele at the other. He scored and the game was tied up at one.

The third period began with Winnipeg hitting a crossbar and a post all within about five minutes of each other. Things were beginning to turn in the game and that would soon show up on the scoreboard.

It began when Josh Morrissey took a great centering pass in the slot from Jack Roslovic and scored. Mathieu Perreault had the secondary assist on the goal that gave Winnipeg the 2-1 lead at 10:32 of the third.

Things were looking pretty dim for the Devils when, at 13:21 of the third, Andrew Copp scored on a wraparound off assists from Mason Appleton (playing his first NHL game and getting his first NHL point) and Adam Lowry. The Devils were now in a 3-1 hole. This came just moments after a non penalty call on the Jets after Kyle Palmieri was taken down in the Jets zone.

But the Devils have fight and pride in them. The comeback began at 13:57 when Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot was called for holding Brian Boyle. The Devils were now on the power play and were about to see dividends on it.

At 15:41, near the end of the power play, Bratt found the back of the net from Damon Severson and Pavel Zacha. It came when Severson got the puck at the far point from Zacha and went point-to-point with Bratt. Bratt fired through a Brian Boyle screen in front and beat Brossoit cleanly to make it 3-2 Winnipeg.

On special teams, the Devils finished 1-for-3 on the power play with three shots. The Jets were 0-for-1 with no power play shots, but two shorthanded shots on goal. For Zacha, the assist was an especially sweet point, as he was originally credited with an assist on Johansson’s goal, but had it taken away by the official scorers.

This goal, which got the Devils within one, would set up a dramatic finish to regulation. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, New Jersey pulled Kinkaid for the extra skater. The Devils would set up in the Jets’ zone and collapse down, forcing a mad scramble in front of the Winnipeg net. Finally, after hacking through a maze of legs and sticks, Taylor Hall put home the game tying goal from Nico Hischier and Palmieri. Jets coach Paul Maurice would use his coach’s challenge to review for goaltender interference, but replays showed nothing, meaning the call on the ice stood: good goal. We were now tied at three and had another overtime looming.

And this was a good one. It began with Hall and Hischier teaming up on a 2-on-0 with Hall not being able to put home the pass from Nico. Keith Kinkaid then became the near hero when he stopped Laine on a partial breakaway, tried to get the puck back in play quickly and gave it away to Kyle Connor, only to stymie him with a glove save as well.

Finally, with under a minute to go in the OT, Hischier stripped a puck off the stick of a Jets player, only to have it stolen again by Mark Scheifele, who walked in on Kinkaid and scored unassisted for the game winner. Hischier had just had a 2-on-1 at the other end and elected to pass instead of taking the shot in a missed opportunity for the Devils.

It was an exciting game that came down to the wire and the Devils got a point out of it, but it left Devils fans feeling empty because they really fought back to earn this one.

Statistically, the Devils only won 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also being out hit 26 to 21. They had less blocked shots than Winnipeg, 11 to the Jets’ 14 and had more giveaways at nine to one clip.

Once again, Sami Vatanen was the workhorse with 27:19 of ice time (including 4:03 on the power play – he took New Jersey’s only penalty and, thus, did not get any PK time). Hall led all forwards with 21:42 (4:29 of PP time) and Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with six. Hall, Johansson and Vatanen also registered five shots on goal. Hits were led by Hall and Coleman who both had three and blocks were led by Andy Greene with three. Hischier had the most takeaways on the Devils with two.

Scheifele was named the game’s first star with two goals, including the game winner in overtime. Brossoit was the second star and Bratt the third star.

Next up, the Devils will remain home on Monday night when they faceoff with the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Rock. I will be attending this game, so my report will be a little bit late, but I will try to get it up as soon as possible.

Backstrom Hat Trick, Holtby Stifle Devils in Washington

It has not been easy for the Devils on the road this season. Put them up against a surging defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, and you had a bit of a recipe for disaster. The Devils fell 6-3 at Capital One Arena tonight.

The good news, however, is that that score was not fully indicative of how the Devils played. They played well, but just ran into a brick wall in Caps’ goalie Braden Holtby. When the Devils beat Washington 6-0 back in October, they faced backup Pheonix Copley. Tonight, they got Holtby and he was brilliant. He stopped 33 of 36 Devils shots, but that only tells half the story. Especially for a period of time in the mid-to-late second period, the Devils threw everything but the kitchen sink at Holtby and he was consistently equal to the task. He stopped several key breakaways by the Devils, including one by former Capital Marcus Johansson and two by Brett Seney.

Keith Kinkaid went for the Devils and stopped 25 of 29 shots he faced. Kinkaid was just as good, but did have one mental gaffe that led directly to a goal in the second period, which we will get to.

Some roster moves to deal with before we get started, as the Devils placed J-S Dea on waivers in order to try to get him to clear and send him down to Binghamton. He was reclaimed by Pittsburgh off of waivers. Coming up to take his place from Binghamton was Mikey McLeod. The Devils’ 12th overall pick in the 2016 Draft made his NHL debut tonight slotting in for Stefan Noesen, who was a healthy scratch. Drew Stafford and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches. Johansson was back after missing one game due to injury and Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense. Joey Anderson is week-to-week with a broken ankle suffered a few games ago when he crashed into the net. He had surgery on the ankle.

McLeod finished the game with an even plus/minus rating, won 17-percent of his faceoffs all in 5:36 of ice time (including four seconds on the power play). He had three goals and seven assists in the AHL this season so far for a total of ten points.

A little bit of fun trivia before we get started as the linesmen for the game, Brandon Gawryletz and Travis Gawryletz are brothers. According to Steve Cangialosi of MSG+, they had only worked one other game together at the NHL level prior to tonight.

Backstrom got the Capitals off to a roaring start when he scored at 3:51 of the first period from Alex Ovechkin and Michal Kempny. Ovechkin caught the Devils in a change and turned on the jets to skate the puck into the Devils’ zone. There he fed Backstrom who scored his first of the game to make it 1-0 Washington.

At 18:38 of the first, former Devil Devante Smith-Pelly took an interference call against Andy Greene. The Devils would be on the power play and when the horn sounded, would have 36 seconds of carry over time to the second.

But, just eight seconds into the second frame, the Caps’ Tom Wilson took the puck off the backboards on a Matt Niskanen clearing attempt. He then scored from a strange angle as Kinkaid was not able to handle the puck cleanly on the wrap around. Lars Eller, who won the faceoff to begin the period, was given the secondary assist on the goal. It was now 2-0 Caps on that shorthanded goal by Wilson.

But the Devils would grab one back when Travis Zajac scored a shorty of his own at the 9:23 mark of the second. Taylor Hall had taken a tripping call and the Devils were killing off a penalty. But then Blake Coleman stood the Capitals up at the Devils blue line and was on his way with Zajac on a 2-on-1. Coleman shot and Holtby made the initial save, with Zajac following up and hammering home the rebound to cut the Washington lead in half 2-1.

Overall, on special teams, the Devils were 0-for-5 on the power play with four shots on Holtby. They also had two shorthanded shots, of which they scored on one. The Caps were 1-for-4 on the power play with seven shots, plus one shorthanded shot (on which they scored).

Late in the second, everything hit the fan, so to speak. We talked about Brett Seney’s breakaways and on his second one, after he was turned aside by Holtby, Wilson plowed into the zone and leveled Seney from behind. Although it was actually shoulder-to-shoulder, it was from behind and Seney was without the puck and, because of Wilson’s reputation, he received a match penalty at 17:39. Wilson was gone from the game, with an automatic hearing with the league for possible supplemental discipline and the Devils were on a five minute power play.

However, the Devils would not score on that five minute power play, one which could have ultimately tied the game up at two. Instead, Washington continually stopped the Devils from getting a clean zone entry and set up.

There was 2:39 of carry over power play time into the third period, but once the Caps killed that off, they would begin to open the flood gates. Andre Burakovsky scored at 5:45 of the third from Kempny and Backstrom as he split the Devils defense and beat Kinkaid on a partial breakaway.

The wheels then began to seemingly fall off for the Devils as 8:26 of the third, Miles Wood was assessed a double minor for butt ending Dmitry Orlov with his stick. Then, at 10:17, Sami Vatanen was called for hooking Jakub Vrana and Washington would have two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time. And that is just poking the bear that is the fourth-ranked power play unit in the NHL. Backstrom scored at 10:57 to make it 4-1. He took a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and shot the puck under the crossbar and in. John Carlson had the secondary assist.

In what was already a strange game, the Devils were not through yet. They began the long climb back into things at 12:35 when Nico Hischier finished a play started by Hall. Hall drove to the Caps’ net with a nice power move and Nico put the rebound away. That goal made it 4-2 and gave the Devils some life.

The Devils would cut the Capital lead to one at 18:10 when Johansson scored on his old team from Hall and Hischier. This one came when the three rushed up the ice and Hall fed Johansson as Marcus was crashing the net. He shoveled the puck in from right on the doorstep and made it 4-3.

We seemed to be headed for a dramatic finish, as the Devils pulled Kinkaid with about 1:30 remaining in the game. But things were not to be as Ovechkin grabbed the puck at his own blue line, knew he had time and sent it down the ice to score into the empty net. That put Washington back up by two at 5-3.

But the Devils felt that they still had time and they pulled Kinkaid again with a little over a minute remaining. Backstrom then broke in on the empty net with Ovechkin, who fed him to score into the open goal mouth and finish off his hatty. That made it 6-3 Capitals, which was our final.

The Devils had a good night statistically, out shooting Washington 36-31, winning 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hitting the Caps 12-6 and having less giveaways at 12 for the Caps to the Devils’ nine. Washington registered more blocked shots at 14 to 11.

Individually, Vatanen led all skaters for the Devils in ice time with 21:59 (3:26 on the power play and 1:04 on the penalty kill) while Hall led all forwards with 21:38 (6:48 of PP time and four seconds of PK time). Four players led in shots on goal with four (Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Johansson and Damon Severson) while Wood led in hits with four. Blocks went to Greene with three and five players registered a takeaway (Hall, Brian Boyle, Hischier, Coleman and Severson).

Next up, the Devils have to regroup fast. They will be facing another elite team in the Winnipeg Jets at home tomorrow at 7 PM. They are now winless in their last four games and will look to rectify that tomorrow night. We will, of course, have that for you right here tomorrow.

Devils Fall in OT Again as Panthers Complete Comeback

It has been rough sledding for the Devils in overtime this year. But this game was a little tougher to swallow as the Devils had a few leads over the course of the night before ultimately losing in the extra period 4-3 to the Panthers down in Sunrise, Florida.

Both teams came into the game in last place in their divisions while the Panthers were in last place overall in the Eastern Conference. It has been a challenging season so far for each side, but the teams put together an entertaining game tonight. The Devils do remain at only two road wins for the year, as they now fall to 2-9-1 when away from Prudential Center.

This was the back end of the Devils’ third back-to-back of the year. They are now 0-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs with one coming up this coming weekend against Washington and Winnipeg.

Two injury notes as Marcus Johansson is out, day-to-day with a lower body injury. J-S Dea slotted in at forward for him tonight. Also, Steven Santini is with the New Jersey club but remains on injured reserve. He will practice with the team while he continues to get better from his broken jaw.

Johansson was a scratch along with Mirco Mueller and Drew Stafford. Miles Wood played on the second line in place of Johansson. Blake Coleman was also a game-time decision.

The Devils also nearly lost Nico Hischier during this game, as he was hit from behind and had his face slammed into the glass by Bogdan Kiselevich midway through the third period. No penalty was called on the play – Nico had his numbers showing meaning he was turned away and that this was a clear hit from behind – and Nico did go down the tunnel for some treatment, but he did return later in the third frame.

In the crease, it was back to Keith Kinkaid for this game. He ended up with 30 stops on 34 Florida shots. He played a good game and got some help from the posts, especially very late in regulation with the game tied at three. Jared McCann hit the post on a clear breakaway that helped force the OT period. For the Panthers, James Reimer was in nets, subbing for the injured Roberto Luongo. He made 29 saves on 32 Devils shots.

Following a scoreless first period, only the second time this season that the Devils have played a scoreless first according to Steve Cangialosi of MSG+ (the other was on October 14 against San Jose), the scoring got kicked off in earnest in the second. Miles Wood scored his second of the year from Sami Vatanen and Egor Yakovlev at the 1:23 mark of the second frame. It came when Kyle Palmieri fought for the puck in the corner and slid it to Wood near the half wall. He gave it to Yakovlev, who went D-to-D with Vatanen. Vatanen shot and Wood, who had gone to the net, tipped it by Reimer to make it 1-0 Devils. It was Wood’s first goal since October 30 at the Lightning.

Then the Devils, who were nursing that 1-0 lead, got into penalty trouble. First they were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty at 5:35. Luckily, Blake Coleman would have the answer for the best kind of penalty killing. He scored a shorthanded goal. The goal came unassisted at 6:01 on a breakaway as he just fired the puck by Reimer without letting him get set. It was both Coleman and the Devils second shorthanded goals of the year.

But, while they were killing that first penalty off with a 2-0 lead, Travis Zajac took a slashing call on a nice scoring attempt by Jonathan Huberdeau at 6:49. The Devils would now be down 5-on-3 for 46 seconds. The Panthers would not delay. Aleksander Barkov scored over Kinkaid’s glove off of a feed from Evgenii Dadonov. Huberdeau had the secondary assist on the power play goal which came with four seconds remaining on the first penalty (the 7:31 mark of the period), meaning the Devils still had to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.

On the night, the Devils went 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots on goal. They had four shorthanded shots. Florida was 1-for-4 with four power play shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on special teams.

The Cats had cut the lead to one for the Devils but would knot things up before the end of the second. McCann scored at the 11:43 mark to tie things at two. He beat Kinkaid with plenty of time and space off of a feed from Mackenzie Weegar when the Devils failed to clear the zone. With the start of the third period, we would be exactly where we were going into the second: tied.

The Devils would retake the lead midway through the third at 11:27 when Jesper Bratt scored an almost identical goal to the Wood one. Bratt scored from Vatanen and Taylor Hall to make it 3-2 when the Devils set up shop in the Florida zone and Hall worked it back to Vatanen at the near point. He released a quick shot that Bratt was able to get a stick on and tip by Reimer. The Devils had the lead late, now they just had to hold on.

But they could not. After Reimer was pulled with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Huberdeau scored from Barkov and Dadonov when the puck pinballed around in front of Kinkaid, finally finding its way onto Huberdeau’s stick. He put it past Kinkaid to tie things up at three. Following a back-and-forth last minute or so, we were headed to overtime with both teams getting a point out of the deal.

Early in the 3-on-3 extra session, it appeared the Panthers had won things when Mike Hoffman’s shot seemed to go in and out of the net. The referee signaled goal, the goal horn went off and the fans reacted, but replays showed that he had actually hit the post with it coming back out. New Jersey had gotten a reprieve but it was not to last.

A few seconds later, 1:28 into the OT, Hoffman scored for real from Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad to get the 4-3 win. The Devils had taken the hardluck loss and will now return to New Jersey before facing the Capitals in Washington on Friday.

The Devils ended the game winning just under half of the game’s faceoffs at 48-percent and were outhit by Florida 24 to 17. The Panthers had more blocked shots at 14 to 12 but the Devils had less giveaways with 13 to the Cats’ 19.

Individually, Damon Severson led in time on ice with 25:08 (1:05 on the PP, 1:19 on PK) while Hall led all forwards with 21:02 (2:46 power play/three seconds PK). Shots on goal were led by Brett Seney with four, hits were led by Coleman with three and blocked shots were led by Kyle Palmieri, Stefan Noesen and Andy Greene with two each. Hischier and Travis Zajac led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, as mentioned, the Devils will head home to regroup this week as they do not play until Friday down in Washington. That game will be at 7 PM and we will have a recap right here when all is said and done.