Nico Wins it in OT as Devils Top Wild

Back in December, the Devils came from three goals down to topple the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime. That night, Cory Schneider started and was pulled in favor of Keith Kinkaid, giving Kinkaid the W then. Fast forward two months and the script was flipped. The Devils still came from three goals down to win it in OT, but tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota, the goalie who came on in relief was Cory Schneider. When Nico Hischier’s (who coincidentally had the game winner that night against the Golden Knights) shot crossed the Wild goal line at the 3:19 of the OT period, Cory ended a winless drought that goes back to December of 2017. The Devils won 5-4.

Some roster moves to begin with. First, Miles Wood came off of injured reserve and played tonight. Blake Coleman was placed on IR with his injury, retroactive to February 10. Nick Lappin and Steven Santini were healthy scratches and Kurtis Gabriel and Eric Gryba slotted back in. Also, although he was okay after the hit he took last night in Chicago, Brett Seney was a game-time decision and did not play tonight.

In goal, Devan Dubnyk started for Minnesota and made 23 saves on 28 Devils shots for a .821 save percentage. The Devils countered with Keith Kinkaid. He stopped 13 of 17 faced for a .765 save percentage, getting chased following the fourth Wild goal in the second period. Schneider came on in relief and stopped all 15 shots he saw for a 1.000 save percentage. He was challenged and he did not break in getting his first win since December 27, 2017.

On special teams, the Devils were 1-for-4 on the power play with just three shots. Minnesota was 1-for-2 with just a single shot that they scored on on the power play.

It was a special night for Joey Anderson, as he was returning to Minnesota for the first time as an NHLer. He is a native of Roseville, Minnesota and went to college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (where he won an NCAA national championship). His family and friends were in attendance at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild had only won one game in February – the game at Prudential Center last weekend. The Devils were looking for revenge six days later in St. Paul.

The Devils were put behind the eight ball early on with Brad Hunt scoring on the power play at 6:07 of the first period. Damon Severson was called for cross checking Jason Zucker (who would be a thorn in the Devils’ side all night) to set up the man advantage. Ryan Suter passed from the point down low to Hunt, who cut in front of the Devils net and beat Kinkaid with a nice move to make it 1-0. Hunt is a seventh defenseman who plays on the Wild power play as a forward. Mikael Granlund had the secondary assist on the goal.

Just 3:41 later, some miscommunication behind the net between Kinkaid and the Devils’ defense led directly to a Minnesota goal. Kinkaid went behind the net to move the puck and hesitated, allowing Joel Eriksson Ek, the Wild forechecker, to come in, steal the puck and bury it on a wraparound. The goal was unassisted and made it 2-0 Minnesota.

The Devils finally got on the board just 26 seconds into the second frame when Marcus Johansson scored unassisted. The puck kind of bounced to Johansson just inside the Minnesota blue line. Johansson spun around and, with the puck on edge, shot it. He beat Dubnyk to cut the Wild lead in half to 2-1.

But just a few minutes later, at 2:33, Nick Seeler would give the Wild back a two goal lead. Nick Seeler shot through a screen from the top of the far faceoff circle and the puck redirected off of Gabriel in front as he tried to block the shot. Hunt and Kyle Rau had the assists and it was 3-1.

Following this goal, midway through the second, Gryba was struck by a puck on the chin, tipped up by Eric Staal inadvertently. Gryba went off for stitches, but would return.

Minnesota would take the three goal lead at the 7:19 mark of the second period when Suter and Jared Spurgeon moved the puck nicely up ice, giving it to Granlund who was able to snipe it up and over Kinkaid’s glove and just under the crossbar. Minnesota now had a 4-1 lead and Kinkaid was out. Cory came in and things were about to change. The Wild would not score again.

The comeback was stalled, however, when a Travis Zajac goal was called back for being played with a high stick. Severson took a shot from the point with 8:55 remaining in the second and Zajac tipped it by Dubnyk. The call on the ice was a good goal, however, Toronto got their look and saw that Zajac had tipped the puck with his stick above the crossbar, the marker for a high stick. The call was then reversed to no goal and the score remained 4-1.

But Will Butcher would get that elusive goal at the 18:10 mark of the second. A Jesper Bratt shot was redirected to Butcher by NIco Hischier. Butcher was all alone in the slot and took the loose puck, scoring to make it 4-2 before the second break.

The third period began with Kyle Palmieri scoring on the power play at 8:16. Spurgeon was off for high sticking Palmieri seven seconds earlier and Bratt won the offensive zone faceoff, tying up his man and Johansson jumped on the loose puck. He got it to the far side of the rink to Palmieri. Palmieri took the puck and wristed it by Dubnyk to make it 4-3.

The Devils were a little more dominating in the third period, as Minnesota took almost half the period to get their first shot on goal.

Then, the unlikely. At 17:16, Kenny Agostino goes cross ice in the Wild zone to Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy then proceeded to fire the puck through Dubnyk’s five-hole, looking like a real goal scorer in the process. Pavel Zacha had the assist on the goal that now had things all tied up at four.

When regulation ended, we were off to overtime. The Wild just dominated the puck in the extra session, with the Devils barely getting a touch at any point. But at 3:19, Palmieri took a shot from an odd angle that forced Dubnyk to make a save and not be able to control the rebound, which Hischier then promptly buried to give the Devils their first win of the road trip and Cory his first win in more than a calendar year.

Nico, with his third OT goal of the year, was named the game’s first star, while Johansson was the second with a goal and an assist. Hunt was the third star.

Statistically, the Devils were out shot 32-28 and out hit 28-16. Minnesota also blocked more shots at 17 to 14. The Devils did win 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had less giveaways at eight to Minnesota’s ten.

Damon Severson led all Devils skaters in TOI with 26:20 (including 4:55 on the PP – he did not see any shorthanded time). Johansson led the forwards with 23:59 (4:30 on the PP). Shots were led by Hischier and Palmieri who had four each, hits by Agostino, Wood, Bratt, Johansson and Severson with two each, blocks by Hischier, Zajac, Andy Greene, Butcher and Severson with two each and takeaways by Hischier, Agostino, Pavel Zacha, Johansson and Mirco Mueller with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils return home to play the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday in a 6 PM game. We will have coverage of that for you here. Enjoy your weekend and feel free to leave a comment in the section below if you wish.

Devils Fall to Blackhawks, 5-2

To call it the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre might be a little bit over dramatic, but tonight was certainly one of those backbreaking nights for the Devils. They lost to the Blackhawks 5-2 in Chicago.

Following the loss the other night in St. Louis – which was more inline with the word “massacre” – the Devils were looking for a statement game against the Hawks. Something to show that their pride was hurt and they were not going to lay down. They mostly accomplished this tonight if not for one man: Patrick Kane.

Kane had a hand in three of the Blackhawks’ five goals, scoring one and assisting on two others. He singlehandedly changed the course of the game with his goal, cutting a Devils’ 2-0 lead to one and setting off five unanswered by Chicago.

The lineup saw Blake Coleman missing just his second game of the season, as he is day-to-day with his injury. Some lineup changes saw Drew Stafford slot in on the fourth line, skating with Brett Seney and Kevin Rooney. Steven Santini came back in on defense, moving into the third pairing with Will Butcher. Kurtis Gabriel came out up front and Eric Gryba on the blue line as the healthy scratches.

In goal, Cory Schneider saw his regular season winless streak move to 21 games, as he mostly played well, but was the victim of a few costly breakdowns. He stopped 31 of 36 shots against for an .861 save percentage. Facing him was the veteran Cam Ward. Ward stopped 41 of the Devils’ 43 shots for a .953 save percentage. Both goalies stood on their heads at various points in the game for their teams.

On special teams, the Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play with six shots and a shorthanded shot as well. The Hawks were 0-for-3 as the Devils PK was perfect tonight. Chicago had three power play shots and four shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on.

Chicago leads the NHL in goals against but had come into the night having won six of their last seven. The Devils have had success recently against the Blackhawks, but that would not continue tonight.

Damon Severson got the scoring kicked off when he beat Ward 7:14 into the game. Seney found a nice passing lane right to Severson, who was pinching up, wide open on the right side of the rink at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. It is a high-risk, high-reward play, but it paid off as Severson scored and gave the Devils the early 1-0 lead.

The Devils took a 2-0 lead at the 16:42 mark on the power play when Travis Zajac scored while Brent Seabrook was serving a cross checking penalty. It was a nice tic-tac-toe passing play from Jesper Bratt to Marcus Johansson, who one-touched it to Zajac in the high slot. He one-timed it by Ward to double the Devils’ lead.

But then things started to go south for the Devils.

It began when, on a delayed penalty against New Jersey, Kane came on the ice as the extra attacker at 18:17 of the first period. Dylan Sikura got him the puck in the high slot and he beat Cory cleanly to make it 2-1 Devils. Artem Anisimov had the secondary assist. It was a rough blow for the Devils late in the period, to give one up like that.

The Chicago momentum would continue into second period. Just 20 seconds into the middle frame, Duncan Keith forced a turnover inside the Devils’ blue line. He got it to Kane, who made a one-touch, backhand pass to Drake Caggiula, who promptly snapped it home to tie the game at two.

Kane would play a crucial role in the game winning goal for Chicago too. Around the 13:12 mark of the second, he stole the puck in the Blackhawks’ zone, passed it to Slater Koekkoek who passed to Jonathan Toews. Toews one-timed the pass by Cory at 13:12 to give the Hawks a lead they would not relinquish.

Late in the second, Brett Seney took a hit that left him limping off of the ice. He seemed hurt but returned for the third period and completed the game.

Early in the third, the Devils had seemingly put one by Ward but the referee waved it off on the ice, saying that the puck never crossed the goal line. The play was reviewed by Toronto and confirmed the call. The Devils had seen another tough break go against them.

Anisimov would add an insurance goal for the Blackhawks when Brandon Saad won a faceoff back to Erik Gustafsson at the point. He got the puck on net and Schneider made the initial save but could not corral the rebound. Anisimov put it in at 13:36 of the third on just Chicago’s third shot of the period.

While the Blackhawks were killing off Marcus Kruger holding penalty, they would add one final nail in the Devils’ coffin. This shorthanded goal saw Toews and Saad break into the Devils’ zone on a 2-on-1 odd man rush. Cory made the first save, but the Devils’ backchecker, Damon Severson, could not clear the rebound and Saad was there to put home the shorty and give the Hawks the 5-2 lead at 15:15.

And that was our final. The Devils out shot the Hawks 43 to 36, won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs and blocked more shots at 21 to 13. Chicago out hit the Devils 30-21 and had eleven turnovers to the Devils’ nine.

Individually, Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:43 of time on ice (including 3:08 on the power play and 1:41 shorthanded) while Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 19:02 (3:08 on the PP). Bratt led the Devils in shots with eight, Rooney led in hits with six, Andy Greene and Butcher led in blocks with three each and Stafford had two takeaways to lead in that category.

Next up, the Devils will be right back at it tomorrow. They travel north to St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild for the second time in less than a week. That is an 8:30 PM tilt here on the East Coast. It is another chance for the Devils to show some compete and that they are not going to be buried following two really bad losses.

We will have coverage of that game for you right here and hope you will come read it. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Devils Dealt Big Loss in St. Louis

The St. Louis Blues entered the night as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, having won six in a row. They finished the night as the hottest team in the NHL, winning their seventh straight while Chicago’s winning streak fell by the wayside in Boston. The Blues absolutely demolished the Devils 8-3 tonight at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. It was the first time the Devils had given up eight goals since an 8-3 loss to Tampa back on October 30.

The Devils, who were looking for their third straight road win, made a late announcement that Blake Coleman would not play tonight as he was missing his first game of the season with an upper body injury. Nick Lappin slotted in in place of Coleman. Lappin played on the third line with Pavel Zacha and newcomer Kenny Agostino. With the debut of Agostino, Ryan Murphy was sent back to Binghamton to make room on the roster. Steven Santini and Drew Stafford were the healthy scratches for the Devils tonight.

The Devils have struggled for the last few seasons against St. Louis and so has Keith Kinkaid personally. He got the nod tonight and did not fare well, stopping 31 of 39 shots against. But when you are bombarded in shots, 20-6 in the first period alone, you are bound to have a rough go of it. He finished with a .795 save percentage. Opposing him was the NHL’s first star of the past week, the rookie Jordan Binnington. He came in with a 9-1-1 record in his young career. Binnington was not very busy but did make 20 saves on 23 Devils shots against for an .870 save percentage.

Although the Devils did not play well by any stretch of the imagination, the power play was 1-for-2 with four shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot as well. The penalty kill kept St. Louis 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots. The Blues had two shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.

The Blues scored early and often. Alex Pietrangelo scored just 5:08 into the game when he was left wide open on the left side of the rink and took a shot that was tipped in off of a Devils player, hitting a skate and beating Kinkaid. Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko had the assists on this one.

One minute and thirty-three seconds later, Ivan Barbashev scored to make it 2-0 when Kinkaid went behind the net, retrieved the puck and then promptly gave it away to Robert Thomas. Thomas shot on net and after a mad scramble in front, Barbashev put it in.

There was a glimmer of hope when, at the 10:30 mark, Agostino created a turnover in the Blues’ zone and found Pavel Zacha at the far faceoff circle with a backhand pass. Zacha then snapped the puck upstairs to make it 2-1 Blues. The assist was Agostino’s first point as a Devil in his very first game with the team.

From there, the wheels fell off for the Devils. Jaden Schwartz scored at 15:47 from Robert Bortuzzo and Tyler Bozak to make it 3-1 St. Louis. He shot through a screen and the puck tipped off of Zacha’s stick and up and over Kinkaid.

The second period began with the Blues scoring just 30 seconds in when Ryan O’Reilly was all alone in the middle, took a pass after Schenn intercepted a Devils pass, and scored to make it 4-1 Blues. Things were beginning to get ugly for the Devils.

About five minutes into the second, the Blues had seemingly scored again when Schwartz had a shot stopped by Kinkaid and then went crashing into the net to put home the rebound. The referee Wes McCauley waved the goal off, citing goalie interference. St. Louis coach Craig Berube used his coach’s challenge to have this reversed, but after a quick review, the call on the ice stood at no goal. The Devils had seemingly dodged a bullet, but that would not last long.

Mackenzie MacEachern made it 5-1 for real when he took a stretch pass from Pietangelo and scored on the breakaway. He was able to get behind Damon Severson to beat the Devils defense and beat Kinkaid glove side. Barbashev had the secondary assist on this one that came at 6:11 of the second.

St. Louis made it 6-1 before the second period was out when Bozak took a shot through traffic just as a Blues power play was ending. The puck deflected in off of Ben Lovejoy’s stick to give St. Louis the touchdown. Former Devil Pat Maroon was originally credited with the goal, but when it was clear that it went in off of Lovejoy’s and not Maroon’s stick, Bozak was awarded the goal. The assists went to Colton Parayko and Maroon. This one came at the 15:20 mark of the second period.

Maroon and Kurtis Gabriel would meet up before the end of the second as Gabriel went after Parayko and Maroon came to his teammate’s aid. The two grappled but did not fight. In the end, Gabriel was assessed a ten minute misconduct penalty and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Maroon received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The third period began, much as the second period did, with a St. Louis goal just 45 seconds in. This one off the stick of Pietrangelo four-on-four for his second of the game. He backhanded the puck over Kinkaid as he cut through the slot. The Blues had tacked on the extra point, it was now 7-1 St. Louis.

After five unanswered goals, the Devils finally got on the board again. This one was on a 5-on-3 power play. Vince Dunn was called for slashing Zacha 7:23 into the third and Bortuzzo was nabbed for interfering with Marcus Johansson at 7:48 to put the Blues down two men. Kyle Palmieri would convert to make it 7-2. It came off of a precision passing play by the Devils at 8:01 that saw Will Butcher go to Nico Hischier to Palmieri, who was in the slot and beat Binnington to break the Blues’ onslaught.

The Devils still had a few seconds on the 5-on-4 power play after that goal and the Blues’ Barbashev made the most of that. He scored shorthanded at 9:25 of the third from Alexander Steen and Parayko. This one occurred when the puck was shot over the Devils’ net and then retrieved and stuffed in near-side by Barbashev. That made it 8-2 Blues.

The Devils rounded out the scoring when Mirco Mueller found the back of the net unassisted for his first goal as a Devil. He snapped a wrist shot by Binnington at the 12:44 mark that deflected in off of a St. Louis player to make it 8-3 Blues. And that was the final.

Stats-wise, the Devils were out shot 39 to 23, won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Blues 25-7, had more blocked shots 20-9 and less giveaways at nine to the Blues’ four.

Minutes were distributed pretty evenly across the backend, but Andy Greene ended up edging by Butcher for time on ice with 20:58 (including 3:15 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led all the forwards with 20:13 played (2:02 on the power play and 2:08 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Zacha and Greene who each had three, hits were led by Agostino, Gabriel, Kevin Rooney and Eric Gryba with three each. Gryba also led in blocked shots with three. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Butcher and Lovejoy with one each.

Agostino’s final stat line read: one assist for one point, an even plus/minus and three hits in 13:06 of ice time (including 23 seconds of PP time) in his Devils debut. He also won 100-percent of the faceoffs that he took.

Next up, the Devils will have to put this one in their rearview mirror as they head up to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks, as noted, have been hot as well. Hopefully the Devils come out with a chip on their shoulder for this 8:30 PM game. We will see. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you wish below the article. They are always appreciated.

Devils Defeat Hurricanes, Snap Home Winless Streak

The Devils had not won a game at Prudential Center since January 14 when they clobbered the Chicago Blackhawks. Today they were facing the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that could move into a playoff position today with a win, as the Penguins had lost already to put them into a tie for the last wild card spot in the East. But the Devils perservered, weathering a few Carolina comebacks to win 3-2.

The injury-depleted Devils have seen a lot of turnover in their lineup this year so far. Today, they welcomed forward Nick Lappin, making his NHL Devils season debut and defenseman Ryan Murphy making his Devils debut period. Murphy was acquired last week from Minnesota (where he had played a few games at the NHL level this season) and was originally drafted by Carolina. He wore number 32 today and was paired with Mirco Mueller on the blue line. With those guys in, Joey Anderson, Eric Gryba and Steven Santini were the healthy scratches.

The goaltending matchup featured Keith Kinkaid making his return to the net since the LA game last Tuesday. He stopped 33-of-35 for a .943 save percentage and had a great game, coming up big when the Devils needed him most. He was also named the game’s second star. Petr Mrazek faced him and stopped 18-of-21 for an .857 save percentage. The fact that the Devils were out shot 35 to 21 should not surprise. The Canes lead the league in shots for per game with 35.5 while also leading the league in least shots given up per game. They shoot a lot and do not give up many chances.

The game got going with a bang. Just 1:05 into the opening frame, Kurtis Gabriel and Micheal Ferland threw down in a spirited scrap. You would have to give the win to Gabriel with the takedown in his second fight in two nights.

The Devils got the goal scoring going on the power play when Pavel Zacha scored from Murphy and Nico Hischier at 11:35 of the first. It came after the Devils had killed off a 5-on-3 power play for the Hurricanes, an excellent kill where they really limited Carolina’s chances. Following that kill, the Canes’ Brett Pesce took a holding call against Jesper Bratt. On the ensuing power play, Murphy found a seam up the left wing, making a nice backhanded pass to Zacha who was able to finish for his tenth of the season. It was a pretty play and made it 1-0 Devils.

Before the first period was up, the Devils would take the 2-0 lead when Marcus Johansson scored his first of two on the afternoon with 57 seconds remaining the frame. Hischier went point-to-point with Kyle Palmieri, who got a shot on net with Johansson on the doorstep. When Mrazek could not handle the rebound, Johansson was right there to put the puck home. Johansson would go on to score twice today and be named the game’s third star while Nico would assist on all three Devils goals and be named the first star of the game.

In the second period, Carolina would cut the lead in half when, on a delayed penalty, Dougie Hamilton threw the puck through a screen in front that beat Kinkaid to make it 2-1 at the 7:22 mark. Justin Williams and Nino Niederreiter had the assists on that goal.

We talked about Carolina’s shot suppression and that was no more evident than in the second period when it took the Devils until 6:07 remaining to get their first shot on goal. They ended the second with just two shots.

The game winner for the Devils would be a pretty one. It came at the 15:56 mark of the third and saw Bratt poke the puck to himself up the left wing wall and then use his speed to just blow by the Carolina defender. He then made a no-look pass to a trailing Johansson who finished to make it 3-1 late in the game. Hischier had the secondary assist.

Carolina would get one more at the 18:33 mark when they were on a power play and pulled the goaltender for a 6-on-4 man advantage. Niederreiter made a good pass on a 2-on-1 down low with Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen put the puck in to make it 3-2 and set up a dramatic finish. Sebastian Aho had the secondary assist on the play.

On the power play, the Devils were 1-for-4 with four shots and two shorthanded shots. The Canes were 1-for-5 with the man advantage with a huge nine shots on goal. They also had two shorthanded shots. This just further illustrates how many shots the Hurricanes take in the course of a game.

Following a tense finish with multiple icings and faceoffs deep in the Devils’ zone while the Canes had Mrazek pulled, New Jersey held on and won the game 3-2.

The Devils won 56-percent of the game’s faceoffs and out hit the Hurricanes 21-19. They also had more blocked shots at 15 to the Canes’ nine. Each team had seven giveaways.

As for the individual stats, Andy Greene led all Devils skaters in ice time with 23:08 TOI. That includes eight seconds on the power play and 8:29 on the PK. Travis Zajac, although third on the team in ice time (behind Greene and Lovejoy – a byproduct of the team being shorthanded for much of the game), led all forwards with 22:04. That includes 4:05 on the PP and 5:42 on the penalty kill. Shots were led by Johansson with five, hits by Lovejoy with five, blocks by Lovejoy with five and takeaways by Hischier and Zajac with two each.

It was a hard fought and well-earned win for the Devils and hopefully will jumpstart them as they take to the road for a western swing this week. They have the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday with an 8 PM puck drop. We will have that for you right here and hope you join us then. In the meantime, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.

Devils Winless Streak Continues, Fall to Wild 4-2

The Devils’ woeful home stand continued with the Minnesota Wild coming to town. The Wild, who are in the middle of a playoff race in the Western Conference, had not yet won a game in the month of February. Well, they got their first this afternoon with a 4-2 win over the Devils at Prudential Center.

The injuries continued to pile up as Miles Wood was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury suffered in the Islander game on Thursday. He is day-to-day. They did get Joey Anderson back from IR, however, and he was back in the lineup today. Anderson, the only Minnesota native in the Devils’ lineup, broke his ankle back on November 21 against Montreal. Travis Zajac had a close call in the Islander game as well, as he was hit in the ear with a puck and had multiple stitches and had to pass concussion tests. He returned in that game and did play today.

A couple of close calls late in the third period of this game saw Marcus Johansson in a collision with Marcus Foligno where he landed awkwardly. He went down the tunnel but did return. In the same sequence, Kyle Palmieri went down in a tangle with Jordan Greenway and was nicked by his skate blade. He did not miss a shift, however as it could have been a lot worse than it actually was.

The healthy scratches for the Devils featured Steven Santini and two call ups from Binghamton: Nick Lappin and Ryan Murphy. The speculation is that Lappin and Murphy will play tomorrow in the game against Carolina.

Between the pipes, Cory Schneider came right back following his stellar performance against the Islanders on Thursday. He faced 33 shots and stopped 29 of them for an .879 save percentage. Devan Dubnyk saw just 18 shots and stopped 16 of them for an .889 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils were pretty dismal, going 0-for-2 with a single shot on net. Minnesota was 1-for-3 with four power play shots. They also had two shorthanded shots on Cory.

A milestone as John Hynes was coaching his 300th game with the Devils, which puts him in second place for games coached for the franchise behind only Jacques Lemaire. Congratulations to Hynes on this step in his career.

Brett Seney, who has slotted in at left wing on the fourth line, replacing the traded Brian Boyle, got the scoring kicked off when he notched one at 6:57 into the game. Will Butcher found Seney in the neutral zone and Seney used his speed to break by the Wild defense. He then snapped a shot by Dubnyk to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

But Minnesota would level things off before the first intermission when Foligno scored at the 12:19 mark. It was off a mad scramble in front of the Devils net where Schneider lost his stick. Foligno had Cory down and fired a nice backhander upstairs into the empty net. Greg Pateryn and Luke Kunin had the assists on the goal that made it 1-1.

The Devils looked good on their first penalty kill of the game, in the second period, as the Wild had a lot of zone time but no shots on goal. However, right after killing that penalty, they were back on the PK when Ben Lovejoy took a high-sticking call against Jason Zucker at 4:24. Ten seconds into the power play, Zach Parise tipped a Ryan Suter shot by Cory to give the Wild the 2-1 lead. Parise received a smattering of boos today, but nothing like he used to as the fans have by and large accepted the fact that he is in Minnesota now and are at peace with that.

Immediately following that goal, at 4:36 of the second, Foligno and Kurtis Gabriel had a spirited fight that ended in a draw. Gabriel was trying to get things going for the Devils and Foligno obliged him.

The Wild scored their third unanswered at 15:07 of the second period when Joel Eriksson Ek shoveled the puck into an empty net when Cory was down. Jonas Brodin and Foligno had the assists as Foligno finished off the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). It was 3-1 Minnesota.

In the third period, Jesper Bratt put the Devils within striking distance when Nico Hischier worked the puck down low and the puck kind of worked its way to Damon Severson at the point. Severson made a nice one-touch pass to Bratt in front and he put the puck into the net to make it 3-2. That goal came at 3:56 of the third and Severson was credited with the lone assist.

But the Devils allowed Minnesota to stay in it and gave up one that Cory would no doubt like to have back. It occurred at the 7:40 mark and happened when Kunin grabbed a Lovejoy clearing attempt in the neutral zone. Kunin skated by Lovejoy up the left wing and wristed the puck by Schneider for the unassisted goal to make it 4-2 Wild. And that would be our final.

The Devils would pull Cory with about 2:35 remaining in the game, but to no avail. The Devils lost, but will be able to get their revenge in six days time when they visit Minnesota at the end of their next road trip.

The Devils were out shot by a wide margin, at 33 to 18. Minnesota also won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also blocking more shots (15-14) and having fewer giveaways (16-6). The Devils did out hit the Wild 33 to 23.

Individually, Severson led all New Jersey skaters with 25:00 of ice time (including 2:53 on the PP and 1:07 on the PK as he is now playing in all situations). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 23:19 (2:31 of power play time and 1:09 shorthanded). Shots were led by Palmieri with three, Gabriel registered seven hits to lead there and Andy Greene had five blocked shots to lead in that category. Hischier also led in takeaways with three.

Next up, tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM, the Carolina Hurricanes come into The Rock to face the slumping Devils. Hopefully they can salvage a win out of this home stand. We will have that for you right here and hope you have a good weekend.

Schneider Plays Well, But Devils Fall to Isles in Shootout

The Devils fell tonight in a shootout to the New York Islanders at Prudential Center, 2-1 as they were swept in the season series between the teams. But the real story tonight was Cory Schneider. Activated off of injured reserve the other night, he made his first start since December 14 versus the Vegas Golden Knights and he was very good. You could see the confidence coming back to Cory with each save he made and he held the Isles scoreless through the second and third periods as well as overtime and three rounds of the shootout. Cory played well enough to be named the game’s second star by the media and to earn back the fan’s confidence enough to get a “Cory!” chant late in the game.

New Jersey was coming into the game off of the heels of the trade that sent Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Boyle, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was sent to the Preds in exchange for a second round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

But while one player was subtracted from the Devils’ roster, another was returning. Ben Lovejoy, a key part of the Devils’ penalty kill, came off of IR tonight playing on the third pairing with Mirco Mueller. In addition, Eric Gryba slotted in on defense in his first NHL appearance since October 27 against Florida. With those two d-men in, Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were healthy scratches. In addition to all of that, Travis Zajac was hit in the ear with a puck middle of the first period but he returned early in the second. Miles Wood also left injured midway through the second and seemed to be favoring his right shoulder after he fell awkwardly on it as he was hit off balance.

The netminder matchup featured Cory making his return against an Islander team that is first in the NHL in team goals against and save percentage. In addition, the New York starter, Thomas Greiss, had a shut out streak of over an hour coming into tonight according to the MSG broadcast crew. Cory ended up making 27 saves on 28 Islander shots for a .964 save percentage. Greiss stopped 30 of 31 for a .968 save percentage. But again, stats do not do enough justice to how Schneider played tonight. He was, again, gaining confidence as the game went on and came up big a few times, including a point blank shot early in the game against Mat Barzal.

Special teams saw the Devils go 0-for-3 on the power play with five total shots. The Devils also had a pair of shorthanded shots. The Islanders were 0-for-4 on the PP with six power play shots.

Kevin Rooney put the Devils on the board early with the 1-0 lead at the 5:32 mark of the first period. He used a burst of speed to get around the Isles’ d-man and shot under the crossbar, glove side, beating Greiss. That ended Greiss’ shut out streak and put the Devils in front. Kurtis Gabriel and Jesper Bratt had the assists on the goal.

But while the Devils scored early, the Islanders found the net late in the first period. At 13:42, Barzal was coming out of the penalty box after serving a roughing minor and took a pass from Ryan Pulock for a clear-cut breakaway. He scored on a play that saw Blake Coleman, who was serving a coincidental roughing minor, go straight to the bench for a change instead of joining the play, allowing Barzal to walk right in. It was a tough play and Schneider really had no chance on the goal. The game was now tied up at one. Brock Nelson had the other assist on the goal.

According to Steve Cangialosi, the Islanders have not trailed going into an intermission since January 8 and that streak would continue tonight.

After a scoreless second and third period, we were off to overtime. Jesper Bratt had the best chance to end it for either team when hit clanged one off of both posts in the middle part of the OT. His shot hit the far post and then nailed the near post without ever going over the line or into the net. A rough break for the Devils and one that kept the game 1-1. When OT expired without a goal, we were headed to a shootout.

In the first round, Kyle Palmieri missed and the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle hit the crossbar on his attempt. Nico Hischier missed in the second round for the Devils and Barzal whiffed on his chance for New York. In the third round, Drew Stafford’s shot was saved by Greiss and Nelson’s was saved by Cory. In the sudden death fourth round, Bratt was stopped by Greiss and Josh Bailey became the hero, scoring to give the Isles the victory.

The Devils out shot the Islanders 31 to 28 and won a whopping 64-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also threw 31 hits to the Isles’ 23 and blocked 13 shots to New York’s ten. The Devils doubled up on giveaways at 14 to the Islanders’ seven.

Individually, Marcus Johansson led all Devils skaters in ice time with 24:32 (5:04 on the power play) just beating out Damon Severson, who led the defensemen with 24:03 (4:10 on the power play and 2:49 shorthanded). Stafford and Bratt led in shots on goal with four each, Gabriel led in hits with eight, Mueller led in blocks with three and Zajac and Johansson led in takeaways with three each.

Next up, the Devils faceoff with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in a 1 PM puck drop at Prudential Center. We will have coverage here for you then as the Devils try to throw a monkey wrench into Minnesota’s playoff hopes. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below if you would like. It is always appreciated.

Kings Defeat Devils in Kovalchuk’s Return

Ilya Kovalchuk played his first game in Newark last night since retiring from the NHL following the 2012-13 season and bailing to the KHL. He returned to the NHL this past summer, signing with the Los Angeles Kings and tonight was the Kings’ only visit to New Jersey this season.

And the fans were all over it. Kovalchuk was booed from the announcment of the Kings’ starting lineup to the final horn and every time he touched the ice (or the puck) in between. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the Devils fell to the Kings 5-1 as the Devils failed to string together another two wins. They were really killed by a two minute stretch at the beginning of the third period where the Kings just unloaded for three unanswered goals.

The Devils did get some good news on the injury front as Travis Zajac played after missing the trip to Montreal over the weekend. Zajac once again logged the most ice time for forwards at 20:03 (5:10 of power play time and 32 seconds on the penalty kill). Eric Gryba and Brett Seney were New Jersey’s healthy scratches and Cory Schneider returned to the New Jersey Devils following his rehab assignment down in Binghamton. Mackenzie Blackwood was sent back to the AHL team and Cory backed up Keith Kinkaid.

Kinkaid ended up stopping 20-of-25 shots against for an .800 save percentage. Opposing him was Jack Campbell, who stopped 29-of-30 for a .967 save percentage. He was named the game’s second star of the night.

The special teams situation for the Devils tonight was not pretty. LA went 1-for-3 on the power play with four shots and had two shorthanded shots. New Jersey was an abysmal 0-for-5 with the extra man, testing Campbell only three times, although they did register two shorthanded shots as well. After a few games where they seemed to be clicking on the power play, the Devils were back to their old ways, seemingly.

Adrian Kempe got the scoring started when beat Kinkaid from Carl Hagelin just 6:21 into the game. LA had jumped out to a lead that would last them until the second when Pavel Zacha notched his ninth of the year from Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford. The goal came at 3:31 of the second period and came when Stafford worked the puck down low to Bratt. Bratt then made a nice behind-the-back no-look pass to Zacha in front. Zacha finished and the Devils had leveled things at one.

That is how the second period ended. Then that two minute stretch, which began just 32 seconds in to the third frame, when Tyler Toffoli scored from Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty to make it 2-1 Kings. At the 1:07 mark, Toffoli struck again, scoring from Michael Amadio and Brendan Leipsic to make it 3-1 LA. At the 1:52 mark, Dion Phaneuf scored his first of the season from Kopitar to make it 4-1 Los Angeles. Just like that, it seemed, the wheels had fallen off and the game was getting out of hand.

Things settled down and stayed stable until Kovalchuk scored his 11th of the year at 17:36 from Kopitar to make it 5-1, which was our final. At that point, the boo’s would have really rained down, were any Devils fans really left in the stands. The good majority of Devils faithful had fled for the exits and did not see Kovalchuk’s goal.

Following that outburst of LA offense, Toffoli was named the game’s first star while Kopitar was the third star.

There was a little bit of a scuffle late when Carl Hagelin shot a puck in on the Devils’ net just as the final buzzer was going off. That set off a meeting between the two teams at center ice and Hagelin was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the 20:00 mark of the third period.

So in the final assessment, the Devils out shot the Kings 30-25 and won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They also out hit Los Angeles 28-20. The Kings came away with more blocked shots at 16-12 and less giveaways at three to the Devils’ ten.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:32 of ice time (5:25 on the PP and 1:58 killing penalties). Shots on goal saw Zajac, Blake Coleman, Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, Marcus Johansson and Andy Greene all lead with three shots each. Kurtis Gabriel and Kevin Rooney led in hits with six each, blocked shots were led by Greene with three and takeaways were led by Zajac, Palmieri, Johansson and Greene with two each.

For the record, Kovalchuk’s stat line ended at one goal for one point, a plus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal, one blocked shot and a giveaway in 13:59 of total ice time (including 3:00 on the power play). He did not win any of the faceoffs he took, though. So at least there’s that.

Next up, the Devils remain in Newark for this home stand as they take on the Islanders on Thursday at 7 PM. We will have that here for you and, of course, encourage you to leave a message in the comment section if you would like.

Hischier the Hero in Devils’ OT Win in Montreal

He just had to keep pace. Nolan Patrick, in the day’s other early NHL game, scored the overtime winner in his game for the Flyers. Nico Hischier topped Patrick’s day by scoring not the just the OT winner in his game, but also the game tying goal in the third period. Nico was the hero of the day as the Devils came away with a 3-2 OT win over the Habs up in Montreal.

But before we get to that, we’ll start with the injuries, which just seem to keep mounting. Travis Zajac was the latest victim of the injury bug, as he did not travel with the team to Montreal following what seems to be a lower body injury versus the Rangers on Thursday. Zajac, a key penalty killer for New Jersey, joins a growing list that includes Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen, Ben Lovejoy, Joey Anderson and others. (Speaking of Anderson, Steve Cangiolosi mentioned during the game that he practiced with the team yesterday and could be close to returning.)

Yes, the Devils are the walking wounded right now, but when someone goes down, it creates opportunity for someone else. Kurtis Gabriel slotted into the lineup to replace Zajac and Blake Coleman was moved up and over to center the second line. Also, Hischier was given the “A” on his jersey to replace Zajac as an alternate captain.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood was back and between the pipes. Coach John Hynes felt that he “deserve(d) to have the net today” and they were back to him. He stopped a whopping 37 of 39 shots the Habs threw at him for a .949 save percentage and was named the game’s first star. The Canadiens had a tough situation since Carey Price was suspended for one game for missing the All-Star Game and they turned to Antti Niemi instead. Niemi saved 24 of 27 shots he saw for an .889 save percentage.

This game was also Montreal’s first game in ten days as they were coming off of their bye week. But they were 5-1-0 in their last six prior. One place where the Canadiens have struggled was their power play. They were at 13-percent efficiency coming into this game – good to be tied for last in the NHL. Speaking of the power play, the Devils continued their little roll that they have been on, going 1-for-3 with the man advantage today (four shots) plus adding a shorthanded shot. The Habs were 0-for-3 with seven shots on Blackwood. They also had a shorthanded shot on net.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi got the goal-scoring kicked off for Montreal when he notched one 5:22 into the game. Jordie Benn kept a Devils’ clearing attempt in the zone and Artturi Lehkonen made a slick backhanded pass to Kotkaniemi, who snapped the puck by Blackwood. That made it 1-0 with the Devils behind the eight ball early.

And it would take nearly the entire period to get that one back. Benn went off for tripping at 17:22 and then Shea Weber was nabbed for high-sticking Kyle Palmieri 20 seconds later to put the Devils on a 5-on-3 man advantage for 1:40. At the 19:16 mark of the period, Marcus Johansson, Palmieri and Will Butcher finished off a nice passing play with Butcher firing one cleanly by Niemi to even the score. With that, the Devils still had 20 seconds of power play time remaining on the Weber penalty, but they could not convert on that and the first period expired.

At the 14:25 mark of the second, Gabriel took a roughing call when he dropped his gloves following some pushing and shoving post-play, but Nicolas Deslauriers would not engage. Although Montreal would not score on that power play, Phillip Danault did connect just as it expired at 16:33. He redirected a Jeff Petry backhand shot in front to give the Habs the 2-1 lead. Max Domi had the other assist.

But from there on, Blackwood would hold the fort down and Nico Hischier would provide the scoring and the Devils would be on their way to two points.

It began midway through the third when Kevin Rooney got on a loose puck in the Montreal zone, getting it to Nico in front of the net. Hischier then roofed the puck past Niemi to tie things at two. It was a good puck battle win for Rooney and paid off when Hischier finished it.

A scary moment late in regulation as Egor Yakovlev took a shot to the back of the head. He went down and Domi, who was battling with him in front of the Devils’ net, signaled to the Devils’ bench to get the trainer out. Yakovlev had a gash on the back of his head, but seemed to be responding to the trainer on the bench. Hopefully he is okay.

Once regulation expired and we headed to overtime, both teams came out full bore. The Devils only had two OT wins this season (with Hischier getting the OT win at home against Vegas and Drew Stafford icing a shootout win in Arizona) while the Habs were 5-5 in OT games.

Montreal hit a post early as the Devils dodged a bullet, but it was Nico Hischier who would finish things off for the Devils. Mirco Mueller bought time in the neutral zone, then connected with his fellow countryman on a pass. Nico came up the left wing with speed and curled wide, roofing the puck from an odd angle to beat Niemi and give the Devils the 3-2 OT win. For his efforts, Hischier was named the game’s second star. Kotaniemi was the third star of the game.

The Devils were out shot by the Canadiens, 39 to 27, won only 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs and were out hit 28-27. They did, however, block more shots at 24 to six. New Jersey had more giveaways at 20 to the Habs’ 12.

Individually, Damon Severson once again led all Devils skaters in ice time with 24:20 logged (1:45 of PP time and 3:47 on the PK). Hischier led the forwards, stepping up for Zajac with 20:28 (2:53 on the power play and 25 seconds shorthanded). Palmieri and Miles Wood led in shots on goal with four each, Blake Coleman led in hits with six, blocked shots was a three-way tie with Brian Boyle, Andy Greene and Butcher each blocking four and takeaways saw Palmieri, Pavel Zacha and Brett Seney each log one.

Next up, the Devils will take on the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday back in Newark for a 7 PM puck drop. I will be attending this game live, so my report may be a little late in getting up. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below as they are always appreciated. Enjoy the Super Bowl tomorrow!

Zibanejad Notches Hat Trick as Devils Fall to Rangers

With the bitter cold hockey weather hitting the Northeast this week, it was fitting that two bitter rivals finally began their 2018-19 season series. It took almost five months, but Devils-Rangers was finally here. This was the latest point in a season, according to Steve Cagialosi, that the Hudson River Rivals have met not including a lockout year. But unfortunately for the Devils faithful, a win was not in the cards. The Rangers defeated the Devils 4-3 thanks to a Mika Zibanejad hat trick.

In roster and injury news, goaltender Cam Johnson was sent back to AHL Binghamton and Mackenzie Blackwood was called back up to the big club. He would not get the start as Keith Kinkaid got the nod instead. In addition, Sami Vatanen was placed on Injured Reserve due to a concussion following the hit from Derrick Brassard in the Pittsburgh game. Eric Gryba was called up from Binghamton to take his place on the roster but was a healthy scratch. Kurtis Gabriel was also a scratch. In Vatanen’s place, Egor Yakovlev got the nod to slot in on the blue line for the first time since December 10. In addition to that, Taylor Hall was still not in the lineup. He has now not played in 39 days (since December 23) and it does not seem like he will be ready for Saturday’s game at Montreal as per reports by the MSG+ crew.

Getting back to the Brassard hit on Vatanen, there was no supplemental discipline handed out by the NHL and most agreed that the game misconduct given by the referee on the ice was enough. The hit was just not dirty enough to warrant an extra suspension or anything like that.

In goal, Kinkaid was back for the Devils, stopping 21 of the 25 shots he saw for an .840 save percentage on the night. The Rangers threw out their venerable backstop Henrik Lundqvist who turned aside 19 of 22 Devils shots for an .864 save percentage.

Both teams were 2-for-4 on the power play for the night. The Devils had nine shots while New York had four on the power play. The Rangers also had two shorthanded shots as well. Special teams would, obviously, play a huge role in this game and both teams looked pretty good on the man advantage.

The Devils were in their heritage green, white and red uniforms and looking for their first win in those jerseys this year. Things looked promising early on too. Nico Hischier buried a loose puck in front of Lundqvist that gave the Devils the 1-0 lead just 5:10 into the game. That goal came on the power play while Marc Staal was off for holding.

The Devils doubled their lead a little more than ten minutes later. At 14:58, New York’s Jesper Fast was called for tripping Damon Severson. At 16:18, Marcus Johansson made it 2-0 Devils when he made a beautiful play, diving for a puck that hit the post behind Lundqvist and pool cueing it into the net. The Devils had the 2-0 lead early on and seemed to be cruising.

But then the Mika Zibanejad show began. At 19:53, Johansson took an interference penalty and the Rangers were on the power play. With just two seconds to the first intermission, Kevin Hayes won the offensive zone faceoff back to Zibanejad and he unleashed a bomb on Kinkaid that beat him clean to cut the Devil lead in half at 2-1. Zibanejad would be named the game’s first star while Mats Zuccarello of the Rangers was the second star and Nico Hischier was the third.

In the second period, at 16:36, Zibanejad struck again on the power play. Blake Coleman – one of the Devils best penalty killers – was off for hooking and New York was on the man advantage. Zuccarello made a nice tape-to-tape pass to him at the bottom of the far faceoff circle. He snapped a shot off and the game was tied up at two apiece. Hayes had the secondary assist on this one. This came minutes after Kinkaid made a nice save on Hayes, who had deked two Devils skaters out of their skates and endured Neal Pionk hitting the post behind him.

The game would go back-and-forth in the early stages of the third period. Chris Kreider scored at 4:43 when his shot beat Kinkaid between his left arm and the post. Zuccarello and Zibanejad had the assists on this goal. Zibanejad had factored into every Ranger goal so far on the night.

New York had taken the lead for the first time, but it did not last long. Fifty-three seconds later, Yakovlev was able to find the back of the net when Johansson flushed out the puck on the forecheck and Yakovlev jumped up into the play, firing the puck by Lundqvist to tie it at three.

The game was now in the balance and the Rangers went back to MIka Zibanejad to finish off the Devils. New Jersey could not clear the defensive zone and Zuccarello was able to backhand a pass to Zibanejad in the slot. He skated right in and beat Kinkaid for the game winner and the hat trick. Pavel Buchnevich had the other assist on the goal.

Kinkaid was pulled with 1:22 remaining and the Devils had two offensive zone faceoffs but were unable to finish and time simply ran out on the Devils. New York won 4-3.

It was a good game played by both teams, although the Rangers tended to dominate the zone time for most of the game, it seemed. Overall, the backbreaker was probably the late goal scored in the first period as that seemed to be a turning point.

The Rangers out shot the Devils 25-22 while the Devils won 52-percent of the faceoffs and the Devils out hit the Rangers, 11-9.The Devils blocked more shots than the Rangers at 11-9 and had more giveaways at 8-1.

There were some key called penalties, including a Miles Wood goaltender interference call at 13:11 of the second period where Wood was seemingly pushed into Lundqvist that probably should not have been called and a dangerous Pavel Zacha cross-checking/boarding call on a Ranger that probably should have been called late in the game. But the officiating was, overall, good.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 25:55 of ice time (4:17 on the power play and 2:31 shorthanded). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 21:04 of TOI (2:45 of PP time and 1:47 of PK time). Severson also led the Devils in shots on goal with four. Hits were led by Blake Coleman with four, blocks by Hischier with two and takeaways by Zajac, Zacha and Mirco Mueller with two each.

Next up for the Devils, it is a Saturday afternoon showdown up in Montreal with the Canadiens. That game is at 2 PM at Bell Centre and we will have coverage for you right here. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Devils Double Up Penguins 6-3

The Devils have not been a good road team this season, that is well documented. They did not get their first win away from Prudential Center until November 5, which happened to be at Pittsburgh, and have only gotten four more since then. But the key here is that they seem to really match up well against the Penguins. They have played the Pens three times this season and have won all three games. Call it respect, call it getting up for a tough opponent, whatever it is the Devils seem to have the Penguins’ number. Coming out of their bye week, the Devils defeated the Pens 6-3 at PPG Paints Arena.

Some roster news to begin. Cam Johnson was called up from Binghamton to back up Keith Kinkaid tonight, as Mackenzie Blackwood was down in the AHL playing in the All-Star Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. The team wanted to give him the opportunity to do that which is why he was sent down. Other call ups for the Devils include Egor Yakovlev, who was scratched tonight and Kurtis Gabriel – also a scratch. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy was placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 15. Miles Wood was activated off of IR and played tonight (primarily on the second line with Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman), recording an assist in the game. Taylor Hall, as per Bryce Salvador of MSG+, has been working out back in New Jersey and should be back in the line up later in the week. Not sure if he means the Ranger game or what, but that is certainly good news.

Keith Kinkaid had not registered a win since January 4. But he was well rested coming out of the eight day break the Devils had and played well toinght. He made 37 saves on 40 shots against for a .925 save percentage in getting the W. Opposing him was Matt Murray, who stopped 26 of 32 Devils shots total for a .813 save percentage.

Special teams-wise, the Devils were 2-for-5 on the power play with six shots. They also registered three shorthanded shots and scored on one of them. Pittsburgh was 0-for-5 on the power play with seven shots. They also had five shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.

The Devils got the scoring kicked off when Travis Zajac, who would go on to have a great night with four points in being named the game’s first star. He scored at 13:08 of the first period and scored shooting through a screen off of a nice feed from Wood. Steven Santini had the secondary helper. It was 1-0 Devils about halfway through the first.

Damon Severson would double the Devils up 1:45 later. On this goal, he jumped up into the play, took a pass from Blake Coleman, and was all alone in the slot. He beat Murray for his fourth point of the year versus Pittsburgh this season. Zajac had the other assist. Coleman, with two points on the night, would be named the game’s second star. The Devils had the 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Early in the second, at the 2:26 mark, Sami Vatanen was called for holding Jake Guentzel’s stick and the Pens were on the power play. At the 3:30 mark, Brian Boyle scored his fourth goal in the PPG Paints Arena this season when he found net shorthanded from Pavel Zacha. Zacha stole the puck from Evgeni Malkin just inside of the Pittsburgh blue line, shielded the puck and sent a one-handed pass to Boyle (who was going to the net). Boyle had a hat trick in his last game in this building and had given the Devils a 3-0 lead tonight. Zacha would finish the game with a goal and an assist (like Coleman) and was named the game’s third star.

Just as the penalty ended, however, Derick Brassard scored for the Penguins when Marcus Petterson faked a shot and passed to Brassard, who was cutting backdoor. This goal came at the 4:28 mark and Juuso Riikola had the other assist. It was now 3-1 Devils.

But Coleman would put New Jersey back up by three at the 12:57 mark of the second. It came off of a broken play as Zajac settled down a bouncing puck and dished to Coleman, who sniped one upstairs over Murray’s glovehand. Will Butcher had the secondary and the Devils were up 4-1 going into the second break.

Then the turning point: at the 9:12 mark of the third period, Brassard hit Vatanen high, Vatanen was cut by his face shield and Brassard took a game misconduct penalty for elbowing. He was gone and the Devils were on a five minute extended power play. The All-Star, Kyle Palmieri, who was teammates with Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang the other night in San Jose, scored first on the PP. His came off of a quick passing play between Marcus Johansson, Zajac and Palmieri. Palmieri was cutting backdoor and sniped the puck in past Murray. This made it 5-1 Devils.

Matt Cullen would add one shorthanded at 12:30 when Kinkaid settled the puck down behind his net on a lackadaisical play and Cullen, who became the oldest player in Penguins history to play a game tonight, cut in and stole it, going ot the front of the net and shooting upstairs over Kinkaid’s glove. That cut it to 5-2 and was scored unassisted.

But the Devils would get that one back at 13:37, scoring another power play when Pavel Zacha was wide open at the bottom of the far faceoff circle as the Pens overloaded to one side of the ice on the PK. Zacha took a pass from Andy Greene and scored, making it 6-2 New Jersey.

Bryan Rust would get one more for Pittsburgh, at 18:03, when he took a pass from Malkin and got in behind the Devils’ defense. He went backhand through the five hole to beat Kinkaid give us our final of 6-3. Brian Dumoulin had the other assist on this one.

Overall, the Devils were out shot 40 to 32, won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs and held a slight edge in hits at 38-37. The Devils had more blocked shots too, 22 to nine and less giveaways at seven to Pittsburgh’s four.

Individually, Greene led all skaters in ice time with 23:01 tot al (includes 59 seconds on the PP and 8:32 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 19:34 of total time (3:33 on the power play and 4:57 shorthanded). Vatanen led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with seven, Santini led blocked shots with four and Coleman and Palmieri both led in takeaways with one each.

Next up, the Devils and Rangers finally get it on during the 2018-19 season. The two rivals have not yet faced each other this season, but on Thursday at The Rock, that will change. We will have that for you right here, and will try to get the AHL All-Star Game up tomorrow as well. Until then, enjoy your week and don’t forget to leave a comment if you like. It is always appreciated.