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.