Devils End Season on High Note, Defeat Panthers in OT

The 2018-19 season was one of some ups and many downs for the New Jersey Devils. But they ended the season with an up by defeating the Florida Panthers 4-3 in overtime down in Sunrise. It was a game with a little bit of everything for both teams that got a little bit chippy at times.

The Devils never actually officially announced anything, but Taylor Hall did not play tonight, missing the remainder of the season. Also, Erika Wachter revealed on the pregame show that Jesper Bratt missed the end of the season due to an ankle injury. Sami Vatanen also remained out, missing the final few games. Disappointingly, Kyle Palmieri missed tonight. He was three goals shy of the 30 mark with 27 and it would have been great to see him get to that milestone. Kurtis Gabriel also missed tonight injured.

Healthy scratches were Mirco Mueller (with Egor Yakovlev slotting in on the second defensive pairing with Connor Carrick) and Stefan Noesen (with Brett Seney subbing on the fourth line with Michael McLeod and Kevin Rooney for him).

Two guys who did play were defensemen Damon Severson and Andy Greene, who were the only Devils in this injury-riddled season to play in all 82 games. Congratulations to them on that marker.

In goal for the Devils was Mackenzie Blackwood, making his final start of the year. He stopped 37 of the Panthers’ 40 shots for a .925 save percentage. Opposing him for Florida was the ageless Roberto Luongo. He may or may not be playing in his final NHL game (Steve Cangialosi did note that he still does have three years on his contract) at age 40. He stopped 23 of 27 Devils shots for an .852 save percentage on the night.

On special teams, in a game that, as noted, was very chippy at times, the Devils went 1-for-5 on the power play with six shots and a shorthanded shot as well. The Panthers were 0-for-3 on the man advantage with six shots as well. They also have five shorthanded shots to go with that. Florida takes a lot of shots, much like the Carolina Hurricanes, but Blackwood was largely equal to the task all night.

One other interesting note as brought up by Cangialosi was that referee Conor O’Donnell was officiating his first National Hockey League game. The interesting point was that he was a junior teammate of Taylor Hall with the Windsor Spitfires where they won a Memorial Cup together. Their coach there? Current Florida coach Bob Boughner.

The Devils kicked off their final game by taking the lead just 1:27 into the game. Will Butcher gave the puck to Nico Hischier, who used his body to protect the puck versus Florida d-man Aaron Ekblad. He then passed to Nathan Bastian backdoor, who scored to make it 1-0 Devils early.

The Devils seemed to make it 2-0 when Kenny Agostino fired from the point with 13:10 remaining in the first period and Drew Stafford tipped it by Luongo. Initially, it was called a goal on the ice. The officials then met and overturned that to no goal. They checked with Toronto and the call on the ice of no goal was confirmed. Stafford had tipped the puck by Luongo with his stick above the crossbar, making it a high-stick.

The Devils went through the majority of the first period without a shot on net, being stymied for almost 18 minutes from the first goal that was scored.

But they would break through in the second period to double their lead. At 7:41 into the second frame, Yakovlev grabbed a loose puck (a Blake Coleman shot that was blocked in front) and shot from a sharp angle. It actually went right to Bastian, who was set up in front of the net and who redirected the puck by Luongo to make it 2-0. Bastian had the first two goals for the Devils and would be named the game’s third star at the end of the night. Blake Coleman has the other assist on this goal.

But the Panthers would begin a comeback from there. At 11:58, Aleksander Barkov took a Jonathan Huberdeau pass in the neutral zone. He made a few fakes through the Devils’ defense and scored five-hole on Blackwood to make it 2-1. That was Barkov’s 95th point of the season, breaking the single season point record for the Florida franchise. He passed Pavel Bure’s record of 94.

The Devils would retake the two goal lead on an absolute beauty of a goal. After the Devils killed off a Pavel Zacha hooking penalty, Zacha came out of the box and grabbed a puck from Joey Anderson. He then went outside while rushing up the right wing boards with Ekblad draped all over him, comes inside and made a nice move on Luongo to score into the empty side of the net. It was a nice goal and one that will live on in the highlight reels for years to come. It also gave the Devils a 3-1 lead. Kevin Rooney had the secondary assist.

Up to the third period there were very few penalties. In fact, none were called in the first. But the third period was a completely different story. The third frame contained a combined 64 penalty minutes, including four 10 minute misconduct penalties. There was also a fight between Michael McLeod and Josh Brown that was pretty good. McLeod gave the much bigger Brown a good fight and really held his own.

Florida cut the Devils lead to one at the 16:35 mark of the third when Huberdeau scored just as Luongo was going to the bench for the extra attacker. He took a centering pass from Evgenii Dadonov, who was at the side of the net, and scored. Keith Yandle had the secondary assist on the goal. It was now 3-2 Devils.

The Panthers would pull Luongo again and, exactly two minutes after the Huberdeau goal, at 18:35, Mike Hoffman scored to tie it up at three. Following a mad scramble in front of the Devils’ net, the puck squirted out to Hoffman in the slot and he fired, beating Blackwood to level the game off. Vincent Trocheck had the other assist.

Things seemed to be headed for overtime, but, with exactly one second remaining in regulation, a different wrinkle was put into things. Huberdeau fired the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt in the Panthers’ zone at 19:59. A delay of game penalty was called and the Devils would begin the OT period with an extra attacker.

And they would convert. Just 56 seconds into OT, Travis Zajac takes a great pass from Severson and fired from the left hash marks. He became the first Devil this season to score in OT other than Nico Hischier (Nico was lost to one of the misconduct penalties mentioned earlier) and gave the Devils their first victory in Sunrise since October 11, 2014. The Devils had the 4-3 win and that was that on the 2018-19 season. Zacha had the secondary assist.

The Devils were out shot on the night 40-27, won 43-percent of the faceoffs, had 37 hits to the Panthers’ 35 and had 15 blocked shots to the Panthers’ six. The Panthers had more giveaways at 27 to the Devils’ seven.

Individually, Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:47 (including 5:11 of PP time and 2:11 of shorthanded time). Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 21:31 total ice time (5:44 on the power play and 2:28 on the PK). Coleman led in shots on goal with five, Bastian, in addition to his two goals, also led in hits with six, Andy Greene once again led in blocked shots with three and McLeod led in takeaways with three.

And that puts a wrap on the 2018-19 season. We will have coverage here on Tuesday on the NHL Draft Lottery and will also have a post up later tonight on Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs’ playoff game in the WHL. We will also be continuing coverage of the Devils all offseason long.

Have a great Summer everyone!

Devils Fall in Carolina as Hurricanes Make Playoffs

What a difference a playoff race can make. Back in November when the Devils last visited the Hurricanes, the PNC Arena was nearly empty with probably more ushers than fans. Fast forward to tonight, a few months of the Canes chasing a playoff spot and that playoff berth on the line tonight and you had yourself a recipe for a large and hot crowd. (Also add in some fun in the form of the Storm Surge.) The Devils lost to the Hurricanes 3-1 tonight and Carolina (along with a 2-1 Montreal loss in Washington) clinched a spot in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is the first time Carolina has been in the playoffs since 2009, ten years.

Starting on the injury front, according to MSG’s Erika Wachter, Taylor Hall has not been ruled out of Saturday’s game (he did not play tonight), but c’mon, let’s be realistic here. He probably will not play. Neither will Kyle Palmieri or Sami Vatanen, likely play either on Saturday, as both were out tonight too. Kurtis Gabriel also remained out tonight. Brett Seney was recalled from AHL Binghamton but neither him nor Egor Yakovlev saw action tonight.

The Devils got a glimpse of their future when newly-signed Jeremy Davies practiced with the team. He cannot play tonight or Saturday, as his entry-level deal does not kick in until the 2019-20 season, but he was on the ice and around the team getting some seasoning for when he does make the jump to the NHL officially.

In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider and he played very well tonight, getting the Devils out of some jams. He made 22 saves on 25 shots against for an .880 save percentage on the night. For Carolina, Petr Mrazek made 36 saves on 37 shots for a .973 save percentage. Mrazek would go on to be named the game’s first star later in the night.

Special teams saw the Devils go 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots and one shorthanded shot. The Canes were 1-for-2 on the PP with three shots.

The Hurricanes’ quest to reenter the playoffs did not get off to a good start. Andy Greene took a feed from Michael McLeod while trailing the play and shot through traffic. He beat Mrazek cleanly to make it 1-0 Devils 4:56 into the game. Pavel Zacha, playing in his 200th NHL game, had the secondary assist.

The Canes would tie it before the first period was out, though. Warren Foegele took a stretch pass from Dougie Hamilton through the Devils’ defense and had a partial breakaway. He shot on Cory and beat him five-hole at the 10:03 mark of the first. That made things all level at one apiece.

The Devils, although ending up outshooting Carolina 37-25, did not get their first shot of the second period until about the 12 minute mark of the frame. That was about the only down period for the Devils as they played well the rest of the night.

The game winner came on the power play for the Hurricanes at 1:36 into the second. The Devils actually started the second killing off a 5-on-3 for about 20 seconds. Kenny Agostino had gone off for high-sticking at 18:20 of the first and then, at the 20 minute mark of the first period, Greene was called for tripping Justin Williams. It was that penalty that led to a Justin Faulk goal. The Canes made a nice play to keep the puck in the Devils’ zone and Faulk blasted a shot upstairs by Cory to make it 2-1 Carolina. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen had the assists.

That was the only goal that Carolina would need, but they did get one more insurance goal. It came off of a Nino Niederreiter partial breakaway at 16:35 of the third period. Brett Pesce made a nice outlet pass to spring Niederreiter and he broke in, chipping the puck by Cory to make it 3-1 Hurricanes.

And with that, the party was on in Raleigh. The Canes had qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and the fans were loud to say the least.

In the end, faceoffs were split 50/50 in the game, both teams had 30 hits each and each had seven giveaways. The Devils led in blocked shots 17-8.

Individual stats saw Damon Severson lead in ice time with 25:04 (including 4:15 on the power play and 1:40 shorthanded). Kenny Agostino led the forwards with 21:36 (including 2:19 on the PP and 1:16 on the PK). Shots were led by Blake Coleman with five, hits by Steven Santini with five, blocks by Connor Carrick, Greene and Mirco Mueller with two each and takeaways by Carrick with two.

Next up, the Devils will ride off down to Sunrise for their final game of the season. They take on the Florida Panthers on the road on Saturday at 7 PM. We will have coverage of that for you here as well as Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs’ first game against Everett in the WHL playoffs.

Devils Defeat Rangers in Final Home Game of Season

Ultimately it means nothing, yet it means so much more. Both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers are long eliminated from playoff contention (the first time since the Devils came to New Jersey that both teams will miss the playoffs in the same season, if you can believe that) but it was still Devils-Rangers. The Devils came away with the 4-2 victory on home ice to finally grab a win from their cross-river rivals in their final home game of the 2018-19 season.

It was a physical game with a few fights. It also had some nice goals and some great saves.

In some roster-related news, Jesper Bratt has officially been shut down for the season. Kurtis Gabriel (upper body) missed his third straight game, Sami Vatanen (illness) remains out and Kyle Palmieri (lower body) was also missing tonight. Egor Yakovlev was a healthy scratch. The Devils were getting Nathan Bastian back off of injured reserve tonight. He would go on to have a solid game.

The goalie matchup saw Mackenzie Blackwood for the Devils (he stopped 30 of 32 shots for a .938 save percentage) get his first win over the Rangers while the old workhorse Henrik Lundqvist went for New York. He stopped 37 of 40 shots against for a .925 save percentage on the night.

Special teams played a rather large role tonight. The Devils were 1-for-4 on the power play with five shots and two shorthanded shots. The Rangers were 1-for-2 with two shots. They also had two shorthanded shots. The second period saw three fights as first, Tony DeAngelo fought Bastian to a draw in the young Devils’ second career NHL scrap. In the second one, Brendan Lemieux took on Miles Wood in a fight where Wood lost his balance early and could not get set, so give that one to Claude’s kid. In the third bout of the period, Blake Coleman took on Lias Andersson in one that also went to a draw. There was definitely some fire shown out there by the youngsters, no doubt about that.

The Devils got the goal scoring started when Miles Wood (who was an assist short of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick) snapped a shot over Lundqvist’s right shoulder. He got assists from Connor Carrick and Mirco Mueller. Wood had just inadvertently blocked an Andy Greene shot on the shift just prior, which shook him up. But he recovered to give the Devils the early 1-0 lead at 3:54 into the first period.

The Devils doubled up their lead on the power play at 14:34. DeAngelo had gone off for tripping at 13:56, setting up a Devils man advantage and the Devils capitalized. Damon Severson wristed a shot from the point that was tipped in front by Travis Zajac to make it 2-0 Devils. Nico Hischier had the secondary assist.

From there, the game started to get away from the Devils a little. First, Brett Howden scored on a 3-on-1 for the Rangers, beating Blackwood with a shot to the short side. Connor Brickley and Neal Pionk had the assists on that goal that cut the Devils lead in half at 2-1. The goal was scored at 18:40.

A few seconds after that goal, the Rangers seemed to have tied it up when Chris Kreider scored. However, the Devils challenged the call on the ice, which was a good goal and the replay showed that the puck hit the post and was cleared out by Severson (who batted the puck out of midair) and never actually fully crossed the goal line. The call on the ice was reversed to no goal and the Devils retained the 2-1 lead.

The total shots in the wild first period – with both teams getting 17 for a total of 34 – is the highest combined total of shots in one period for the Devils and their opponents this season.

In the second period, in between the fights, Filip Chytil found time to tie the game up at two when he scored for the Rangers on the power play. Greene was serving a holding penalty and Chytil scored off of the rush, putting in a rebound after Blackwood made the initial save. The goal came at 16:36 and Vinni Lettieri and DeAngelo had the assists.

And so, we headed into the final Devils home period of the season tied at two with their archrivals. It was close. Hischier hit the post on the power play midway through the frame. But it was Carrick who was the hero. At the 15:50 mark of the third, Michael McLeod dropped the puck along the left wing boards to Drew Stafford, who found Carrick cutting in behind the play. Stafford sold a shot and passed to Carrick, who snapped the puck by Lundqvist to give the Devils a 3-2 lead.

The Rangers then pulled Lundqvist with about 1:33 left in the game. Kenny Agostino tried to pot one into the empty net from center ice but hit the post. Joey Anderson then skated in, gathered the rebound and put it home on the backhand to ice the game at 4-2. Agostino and Zajac were credited with the assists on the empty netter.

The Devils had finally beaten the Rangers this season, keeping them from being swept for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Chytil was the game’s third star, Zajac the second with a goal and an assist and Carrick the first with an assist and the game winning goal.

The Devils out shot New York 41-32 and won a whopping 67-percent of the game’s faceoffs. There was a combined 46 penalty minutes in the game with the Rangers taking 25 of them. The Devils out hit the Rangers 23-20 and had more giveaways at 10 to the Rangers’ five. The Rangers had more blocked shots (11-5) than the Devils.

Individually, Severson led all skaters in time on ice with 25:21 (including 4:32 on the power play and 2:40 on the PK) while Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 20:07 total ice time (4:32 on the PP/53 seconds on the PK). Stefan Noesen led the Devils in shots on goal with seven, Coleman led in hits with four, Severson led in blocks with two and Greene led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils head down to Carolina on Thursday to take on the Hurricanes in the penultimate game of the season. The Canes are still fighting for their playoff lives so this game could be interesting as the Devils could play spoiler a bit. We will find out as we will have coverage for you right here on Thursday.

Devils Lose in OT to Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Fall to Red Wings in Busy Day of Hockey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Reel Off Second Straight With W Over Sabres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Outlast Coyotes in Shootout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Drop One to Bruins

The Devils’ homestand continued tonight with a 5-1 loss to another Stanley Cup contender, the Boston Bruins. New Jersey drops the three game season series to Boston, two games to one.

One bit of housekeeping to get to first. According to Craig Seiden on Twitter (@CraigSeiden), Joey Anderson had an assist added to Kenny Agostino’s goal on Tuesday night against Washington. So that goal was not unassisted.

Roster-wise, Kyle Palmieri left the Capitals game in the first period with an apparent upper body injury. He would not play tonight. Will Butcher was also out tonight with an illness. However, making his return from injured reserve was Pavel Zacha, who had been out with a concussion for the last 16 games. Nick Lappin was reassigned to Binghamton of the AHL and defenseman Josh Jacobs was recalled from Binghamton to replace Butcher on the roster tonight. This was his NHL debut and he wore number 40.

Another player making his debut in his home state was Long Branch, New Jersey-native Connor Clifton of the Bruins. The Boston d-man wore number 75.

And Clifton’s team would be playoff bound if the B’s won tonight in regulation and the Canadiens lost in any fashion to the Islanders in their game. The Bruins held their end of the bargain, but unfortunately for them, Montreal beat the Isles 4-0, so it was a no go for that.

In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider. He stopped 22 of 26 Boston shots for an .846 save percentage on the night. Opposing him was Bruins workhorse Tuukka Rask. He stopped 21 of 22 Devils shots for a .955 save percentage. Rask would go on to be named the game’s third star.

On special teams, Boston was 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots while the Devils were 0-for-1 with two shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot to go along with things. The Devils actually kind of got away with a play in the second period when a Steven Santini cross checking penalty was finishing up. Santini came out of the penalty box and immediately played the puck. If any part of his second foot was still on the floor of the penalty box, this would have been a penalty. The officials got together and linesman Darren Gibbs later told Devils iceside reporter Bryce Salvador that they felt that there was no penalty due to Santini’s second foot being in the air at the time he touched the puck. Good break for the Devils there.

The first goal of the game did not occur until the 18:34 mark of the first period when Patrice Bergeron scored from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. On the play, Andy Greene’s stick broke and Bergeron was all alone on the side of the Devils’ net after a missed assignment by Damon Severson. Pastrnak made a nice pass to Bergeron and he potted it for the first goal of night. It was 1-0 Bruins.

That line of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron would give the Devils fits all night. In fact, Bergeron was named the game’s second star while Pastrnak was the first star of the night. They would factor into the second goal of the night when the Bruins won a faceoff deep in the New Jersey zone at 12:58. Bergeron won the faceoff to Marchand who feathered a nice pass to Pastrnak set up in front of the net. That made it 2-0 Boston.

The Devils finally got on the board a little less than two minutes later at 14:51 when Drew Stafford scored. Pavel Zacha sold a shot at the top of the far faceoff circle and then made a perfect pass to Stafford at the near faceoff dot. Rask was down and Stafford tapped it in to give the Devils a goal, cutting the B’s lead in half to 2-1 and ending Rask’s shutout streak that he had going at 101:49.

But that was it for the Devils’ offense on the night.

Danton Heinen scored 29 seconds into the third frame from Sean Kuraly off of a two-on-one. That made it 3-1 Bruins and largely broke the Devils’ collective backs.

Cory was pulled with about two minutes remaining in the game and Boston took advantage with Bergeron scoring into the empty net. Marchand and David Krejci had the assists on that one. That goal came at 18:42 of the third and made it 4-1 Boston to ice the game.

But the Bruins were not done. At the 19:38 mark of the third, David Backes, cutting by Schneider’s crease, redirected a Noel Acciari shot by the Devils netminder to give us our final of 5-1.

The Devils ended the night being out shot 27-22 and losing in the faceoff circle with Boston winning 53-percent of the game’s draws. New Jersey did have more hits at 26 to the Bruins’ 14 and more blocked shots at 15 to Boston’s seven. However in giveaways, the Devils had nine while the Bruins had only one.

Individually, Severson led all skaters in ice time with 23:29 (53 seconds on the power play and 4:44 on the penalty kill) while Joey Anderson led the forwards with 18:11 (2:29 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Eric Tangradi, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila and Santini who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino and McLeod with five each. Blocked shots were led by Greene with five as he hones in on the Devils single season record for that stat. Takeaways were led by Anderson with two.

Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as they take on the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday at 1 PM. I will be attending this game live and, as such, my report will be up a little bit later. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment. They are always appreciated.

Devils Fall at Home to Caps

The Devils returned home from their Western trip that was actually pretty successful, all things considered. Unfortunately, that bit of success did not continue at Prudential Center last night as the Devils lost to the Washington Capitals 4-1. With that win, Washington retook first place in the Metro Division from the Islanders.

The game was a 7:30 PM ET start due to it being an NBCSN game and the crowd in attendance at The Rock was pretty good considering it was a Tuesday night game with the Devils long since eliminated from playoff contention.

The Devils lineup stayed largely the same from Colorado. Colton White slotted out on defense while Egor Yakovlev was back in the lineup after missing some games due to injury.

In goal, the Devils continued to share duties with Mackenzie Blackwood getting the nod last night. He made 18 saves on 22 Capitals shots for an .818 save percentage on the evening. Facing him was the Caps’ backup, Pheonix Copley who stopped 20 of 21 Devils shots for a .952 save percentage. Blackwood was forced to make some spectacular saves at times, including a phenomenal one about midway through the third period where he got some help from the Devils’ defense that needs to be seen to be believed. Copley, however, would go on to be named the game’s third star.

Neither team got much time on the power play or scored. For the Devils, this was a success as they kept the powerful Capitals power play to 0-for-1 with no shots. The Devils were kept 0-for-2 with two power play shots. Neither team registered a shorthanded shot.

Andre Burkovsky got the scoring kicked off for Washington just 2:52 into the game. Nic Dowd and Brett Connolly got the assists as Connolly was on his way to a two point (one goal, one assist) night and the first star of the game. That goal made it 1-0 Caps.

But the Devils would give some hope. With exactly one second remaining in the first period, at 19:59, Kenny Agostino fired a shot through a maze of players that found the back of the net. His seeing-eye shot tied things at one going into the first intermission and came unassisted.

But things fell apart a little for the Devils in the second period. Not quite the debacle third period in Calgary, but not great either. Connolly got his 20th of the year from Christian Djoos and Carl Hagelin at 5:57 into the second frame. That proved the game winner as it gave Washington the 2-1 lead.

At 12:16, Egeny Kuznetsov would score from Jakub Vrana to make it 3-1. Kuznetsov was named the game’s second star for the goal.

The Caps would notch another one as Tom Wilson scored 1:14 later at 13:28 from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. This gave us our final of 4-1, handing the Devils their second straight loss.

The Devils were out shot in a low-shot game, 22-21 and had more giveaways to a stingy Caps team, six to Washington’s one. The Capitals also blocked more shots at eight to the Devils’ six. The Devils were pretty dominate in the faceoff circle, winning 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs, however and out hit the Caps 21-15.

Connor Carrick led all Devils skaters with 21:05 of ice time (2:31 on the power play) while Stefan Noesen led the forwards with 20:55 (nine seconds of PP time). Agostino led in shots on goal for the Devils with four while Steven Santini led in blocked shots with three. Hits were led by Kurtis Gabriel with five and takeaways by Kevin Rooney, Andy Greene and Santini with two each.

Next up, the Devils continue their recent homestand by taking on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7 PM. This will be yet another tough test against a playoff-bound foe. We will have coverage here for you. In the meantime please feel free to leave a comment below if you would like, as they are always appreciated.

Devils’ Win Streak Comes to End, Blanked by Avs

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! First off, sorry this is a little bit late. I had a family gathering to attend, but we did watch the game and so I have enough info to report on.

The Devils pregame was delayed by about ten minutes because of the Knicks-Lakers game being shown with alternate commentary on MSG+. This is kind of perplexing when you figure that MSG2 was just sitting there with nothing on it while they essentially showed the Knicks game on both MSG and MSG+. But that’s about par for the course with this network.

Anyway, that aside, the Devils were finishing up their road trip in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Devils were trying to string together three wins for the first time in the 2019 calendar year. They last did it from December 27 to 31, 2018. They just notched their tenth road win of the season on Friday in Vancouver, which just shows how bad the Devils have been on the road this season.

The Avalanche came away with the 3-0 win, further keeping them in the playoff race and continuing the Devils’ road woes.

The lineup stayed largely the same for New Jersey with John Quenneville missing a second straight game with an upper body injury. Kurtis Gabriel was out on defense with Colton White playing in his second NHL game.

It was back to Cory Schneider for the Devils. He stopped 31 of 33 Colorado shots against for a .939 save percentage on the afternoon. Philipp Grubauer was in for the Avs and he stopped all 22 Devils shots that made it through to him.

On special teams, the Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play with seven shots for. The Avalanche were 0-for-3 with four shots. They also notched three shorthanded shots, all of which Cory got.

The bulk of the scoring came in the second with Tyson Barrie scoring two for the Avs. His first came at 2:22 into the second when Nathan MacKinnon skated the puck through three Devils players and got it Barrie, who was able to fire it by Cory to make it 1-0 Colorado. Sven Andrighetto had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Avs’ second and, in fact, the Avs’ second came at the 11:05 mark of the second when Barrie’s shot bounced off of his teammate and former Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot’s leg, then rebounded off of Travis Zajac’s leg and in past Cory. This made it 2-0 Avs and Andrighetto had the lone assist.

The Devils pulled Schneider with about 2:33 left in the game and Colorado would add an empty netter off of the stick of MacKinnon (unassisted) at 18:26. That iced the game for the Avalanche and gave us our final of 3-0.

WIth that empty netter, the Devils were out shot 34-22. They won 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but were out hit (22-21) and had less blocked shots (17-15) than the Avs. They did have less giveaways at five to the Avalanche’s 14.

Individual stats saw Damon Severson lead in time on ice with 24:28 (5:01 on the power play and 4:42 shorthanded). Zajac led in forwards’ ice time with 19:01 (4:25 on the PP and 2:53 killing penalties). Severson also led in shots on goal with five, Stefan Noesen led in hits with three, Steven Santini led in blocked shots with three and Michael McLeod and Connor Carrick each led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, the Devils come back east and take on the Capitals at home on Tuesday. That game is at 7:30 PM ET as it is on NBCSN. I will be attending live and will be getting the report up a little bit later. In the meantime, I hope everyone had a very happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t forget to leave a comment if you wish to.