Devils Play Well, But Fall in Shootout Versus Columbus

The Devils hung in there. With the injuries and the lineup being what it is, that is the best you can really hope for. They lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, losing the season series in a sweep to the team from Ohio. It was the first time that the Blue Jackets had swept a series from the Devils since 2005-06 (they were in the Western Conference back then, so less games played between the two teams) as per Steve Cangialosi.

Columbus has shown that they are all in on making a run for the Stanley Cup with their moves during the trade deadline, but have not really gelled with their new roster yet. They remain on the outside looking in for the moment in the playoff picture.

The Devils, meanwhile, continue to battle injuries left and right. The latest victims of the injury bug were Nico Hischier, who missed tonight with an upper body injury and is day-to-day, Sami Vatanen, who missed the game due to illness and Jesper Bratt, who was lost during the game when he was hit by a shot in the second period and did not return.

But even with these injuries and a roster made up of the AHL team basically, the Devils played well tonight. They out played Columbus for much of the game and the Blue Jackets’ first goal was really the result of a fluky play that cannot be blamed on goalie Cory Schneider.

And speaking of goaltending, Keith Kinkaid was back for the first time since the trade that sent him to the Jackets. He was dressed as the Columbus backup and got a video tribute during the first TV timeout of the game. It seemed like the fans really gave him a good reaction as was deserved to a guy who was a good Devil and had a great run last season, especially.

As for the goalies that played in the game, Cory got the nod for New Jersey and played well, although he did not see much work. He made 17 saves on 18 shots for a .944 save percentage. Down the rink, Sergei Brobrovsky went for the Jackets and saw a lot more shots, stopping 29 of 30 for a .967 save percentage. Cory also saw two shots in the shootout, letting in two. The Devils missed both of their attempts in the shootout.

The lineup did see an addition. Stefan Noesen was back off of injured reserve. He last played on January 8 at Buffalo. Also, in another roster move, Egor Yakovlev was back on defense, playing on the third pairing with Steven Santini.

On the power play, both teams were 0-for-2 with the second Columbus PP coming at a crucial time as we shall see. The Devils had two shots on the man advantage while the Jackets did not register a shot. Neither team had a shorthanded shot.

There was a moment of silence in the pregame as the Devils joined the hockey world in mourning the loss of Detroit Red Wing legend Ted Lindsay, who died at age 93 on Monday.

Cam Atkinson, who has killed the Devils in the teams four meetings this season, got the scoring kicked off just 52 seconds into the game. This is the fluky goal that we talked about that came when David Savard missed the net with a shot and the puck caromed directly to Atkinson, who put it home to make it 1-0 Columbus. Markus Nutivaara had the secondary assist. It was hard to tell if Savard just missed the net or if he deliberately banked it wide to get it to Atkinson. Either way, it was kind of a weird one that cannot be pinned on Schneider.

Prior to the last game against Boston, the Devils had not been shut out in 31 tries. They seemed to be headed for back-to-back shut outs until late in the second period, at the 17:00 mark, when Blake Coleman basically created a goal by himself. Coleman skated up the left wing boards, peeled away from Columbus defenseman Scott Harrington, faked a shot and passed to Travis Zajac, who was camped out at the side of the Jackets’ net and scored. It was a goal made possible by Coleman’s patience and that made it all level at one. Andy Greene had the secondary assist on the Devils’ goal.

From there, we settled in with the Devils taking charge for most of the game. They almost came away with the win once off of a 3-on-1 odd man rush midway through the third period and again when Michael McLeod hit the crossbar late in the same frame.

When the final buzzer sounded, we were off to overtime. Without Nico Hischier, who has provided all of their OT wins this season, the Devils did not seem to have a chance. But they once again out played the Blue Jackets in the extra session. The Jackets got their second power play of the game when Zajac was called for slashing with 18.6 seconds remaining in the OT period. It was a tense, but exciting final few seconds, but the Devils held off Columbus and did not give up a shot allowing us to go to a shootout.

The shootout only lasted two rounds. Coleman went first and missed his shot wide. Atkinson went next and scored off of a backhand. Drew Stafford had the puck poke checked off of his stick by Bobrovsky and, finally, Artemi Panarin put the game away for Columbus when he scored five-hole on a shot that Cory just got a small piece of.

Atkinson was named the game’s first star with a goal in regulation and the shootout for the Blue Jackets. Zajac, with the Devils’ goal, was named the second star and Coleman, with the beautiful set up to the Zajac goal, was the third star.

The Devils out shot the Jackets wildly, 30 to 18. The Blue Jackets did not even register a shot in the last 11:54 of the first period, according to Cangialosi on the MSG+ broadcast. Columbus did win 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs and out hit the Devils, 23-22. The Devils blocked more shots at 14-12 and had more giveaways at 14 to the Jackets’ five.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils’ skaters in ice time with 28:16 (including 1:52 on the power play and 1:13 on the PK). Coleman led the forwards with 22:40 of ice time (including 2:02 on the PP and 1:01 shorthanded). Kenny Agostino led in shots on goal with five. Hits were led by Agostino, McLeod and Blake Pietila who each had four. Blocked shots were led by Severson with three. Takeaways were led by Stafford, Coleman, Connor Carrick and Santini who all had one each.

Next up, the Devils start a long road trip by heading down to DC to take on the Stanley Cup champs. That game against the Capitals takes place on Friday and we will have the recap for you right here. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below and we will see you on Friday.

Despite Valiant Effort, Devils Fall 1-0 to Bruins

The Boston Bruins came into tonight’s game having earned a point in 15 straight games. They have not lost in regulation since January 19 and are 18-3-5 since Mackenzie Blackwood earned his first NHL victory against them back on December 27.

None of that changed tonight as the Bruins edged the Devils 1-0, earning two more points and extending their streak to 16 straight without a regulation loss.

The Devils did not play bad, they just had a hard time solving B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask when they got through to him.

We begin with one of those “life just isn’t fair” moments. Kurtis Gabriel was unavailable tonight as he was suspended for one game without pay for his boarding hit on Nolan Patrick last night against Philly. That suspension, almost all would agree, was warranted and deserved. What would have also been deserved was Patrick being suspended for his interference on Gabriel later on in the game. That went unpunished and, again, the NHL continues to frustrate in how it handles its player safety. What might have factored into things was that Gabriel was not concussed, despite going through concussion protocol.

So without Gabriel and Nathan Bastian – who was injured last night when he collided with Nick Lappin and has an upper body injury – Joey Anderson was recalled from Binghamton. He played right wing on the fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Egor Yakovlev (the D-man who was moved up front again for practical purposes since the Devils are short forwards). Steven Santini also slotted back in on defense. He played on the third pairing with Will Butcher.

In goal, we mentioned Mackenzie Blackwood’s earlier success in Boston. He played excellent once again in this game, only surrendering the one goal and making 29 saves on 30 shots for a .967 save percentage tonight. But as good as Blackwood played (and he was good), he was somewhat outplayed by Tuukka Rask who got the shut out by stopping all 20 Devils shots thrown his way. Rask was named the game’s first star while Blackwood was the third. Brad Marchand was the second.

The difference was special teams. The Bruins’ lone goal came on their lone power play as they had two shots on that and scored on one. They also had a shorthanded shot. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play with a single shot, so not as effective.

The only goal of the game came at the 2:37 mark of the first when Brad Marchand scored from Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. Kenny Agostino, cutting by the Bruins’ defense, went through Rask’s crease and bumped him drawing a goalie interference call at 2:23. On the ensuing power play, DeBrusk was able to knock down a puck on the backhand and settle it for Bergeron who also used the backhand to pass to Marchand who deposited it in the Devils net, making it 1-0 Boston and giving us our final.

Marchand was at the center of things again when, at 7:16, Damon Severson hauled him down on a breakaway attempt. The officials called a penalty shot and Marchand had the chance to double up the Bruins’ lead. He skated in and tried to fire low stick side but Blackwood stopped him, getting the right pad on the puck to deny him.

It should be noted that MSG put up a graphic that Marchand was playing in his 666th NHL game with 666 career penalty minutes… against the Devils! In another, less ominous milestone, Drew Stafford was playing his 100th game as a member of the Devils. Marchand would once again draw the ire of Devils fans when he interfered with Sami Vatanen when the Devils had a sixth attacker on the ice looking to tie things. He cross checked Vatanen from behind in the Devils’ zone and no penalty was called.

Nico Hischier left the game down the tunnel, apparently injured, late in the second period but returned right away. He did leave again later in the game according to MSG’s Erika Wachter. There was no word on his injury during the postgame show.

One of the Devils’ best chances to tie things up came midway through the third period as Jesper Bratt beat Zdeno Chara in a footrace to a loose puck and got a partial breakaway in the Boston zone, but was stopped by Rask. New Jersey would not get closer for the rest of the game, despite pulling Blackwood with 1:30 remaining for the sixth attacker.

The Devils ended up being out shot by Boston 30-20 yet won more faceoffs (at a 58-percent clip) than the Bruins. The Devils also out hit the B’s 30-22, blocked more shots at 14-12 and had less giveaways at five to the Bruins’ 14.

Stats-wise, time on ice was led by Will Butcher with 21:53 (including 2:03 on the power play) while Travis Zajac led the forwards with 19:26 (1:55 on the power play and 14 seconds on the PK). Shots were led by Blake Coleman, Sami Vatanen and Egor Yakovlev who each had three. Hits were led by Michael McLeod with five. Blocked shots by Connor Carrick and Vatanen with three each and takeaways by Bratt and Yakovlev who both had two.

Next up, the Devils return home for one game before a massive road trip. They get the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and we will have that for you right here. In the meantime, leave a comment if you would like and have a great weekend.

Devils Drop Decision to Flyers, 6-3

The Philadelphia Flyers have not fared well in their last few trips to the Prudential Center as the Devils have owned the rivalry on home ice of late. But tonight, the two teams met up and it was Philly who came out the victor, doubling up New Jersey 6-3.

Before we begin, some injury news to get to. Despite the horrific-looking nature of Mirco Mueller’s injury, he suffered only an injured left shoulder. There were no head or neck injuries, thankfully and no concussion. That is very reassuring as Mueller took quite the spill into the boards and it could have been a lot worse than it was. In addition to that, Taylor Hall, the team announced, had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday. He will start rehab. This is more good news as the nature of Hall’s injury had been a mystery for some time. It remains to be seen if he will play again this season, but he is starting rehab, so we will see.

In other injury-related roster news, Jesper Bratt returned tonight after missing the last two games with a lower body injury. Bratt played on the top line with Nico Hischier and Drew Stafford. Egor Yakovlev, who played forward last game, was back on defense, on the third pairing with Connor Carrick.

In net, the Flyers made some dubious NHL history tonight. Cam Talbot, recently acquired in a trade with the Oilers, became the eighth starting goalie for Philly this season. That is a NHL record for number starting goalies in a season. Talbot made 30 saves on 33 shots against for a .909 save percentage. Cory Schneider went for the Devils, stopping 18-of-23 for a .783 save percentage.

Special teams saw the Flyers go 1-for-3 with four power play shots and one shorthanded shot. The Devils had an excellent kill early in the game when Kurtis Gabriel took a five minute major for boarding Nolan Patrick (much more on that situation later). In that five minute span, the Devils limited Philly to just two shots and had a few shorthanded chances as well. The Devils ended the night 0-for-1 on the power play with a single power play shot and four shorthanded shots.

The Devils were wearing their heritage white, green and red uniforms for the fourth and final time this season and the Flyers were in their black Stadium Series uniforms (minus the crazy helmets, however).

James van Riemsdyk scored the first two goals of the game to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period. His first came on the power play – set up by Stafford taking a slashing penalty immediately following the Devils’ five minute kill. On that goal, the Flyers took the puck in the neutral zone and Claude Giroux made a nice backhand saucer pass off the entry to van Riemsdyk. He then fired a rocket by Cory to make it 1-0. That one came at 12:53 and Jakub Voracek had the secondary assist.

Two minutes and twenty-five seconds later, the Middletown, New Jersey native struck again. This time, Schneider was trying to settle the puck by the side of his net, but Ryan Hartman stole it and made a nice backhand, no-look pass to van Riemsdyk as Cory was caught going side-to-side through his crease. That made it 2-0 Philadelphia and put the Devils behind the eight-ball going into the second period.

And they would fight back. At 4:25 into the period, Kenny Agostino came up the left wing boards and let a shot go off the rush. Talbot got the initial shot, but could not control the rebound. Damon Severson jumped up into the play and buried the rebound to cut the Flyers’ lead in half 2-1. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist, which moved him past Bruce Driver on the Devils’ all-time assist leaders board.

At the 8:49 mark of the second period, Jesper Bratt made his first imprint on the game. Hischier gave to Severson at the top of the far faceoff circle and he shot with Bratt jumping on the rebound and scoring. The Devils had made things all level.

Then the wheels began to fall off. With 30 seconds remaining in the second period, Cory tried to redirect a Flyers dump in to the near corner and instead, it bounced off of Travis Konecny’s skate and hit Kevin Rooney, going in behind Schneider. It was a freakish goal that was credited to Konecny unassisted and put Philly up for good, 3-2.

After letting in that goal with just 30 seconds left in the second frame, the Devils kicked off the third by giving one up just 27 seconds in. Sean Couturier was able to cut through the middle of the ice and fire free on Cory, beating him to make it 4-2. Giroux and Voracek had the assists on that one as the Flyers regained the two goal lead that they had lost in the second.

Ivan Provorov put them up by three at the 6:33 mark when he redirected a Travis Sanheim wrist shot from the point by Schneider to make it 5-2. Voracek had an assist on this one as well.

Then, well, remember that boarding hit from behind penalty that Gabriel took against Nolan Patrick earlier in the game? Well, Patrick decided that he was going to get his pound of flesh when, midway through the third period, he gave a nice elbow to Gabriel behind the play as he was passing him. It was a clear interference call that was missed by referees Francis Charron and Brandon Schrader (who was officiating his very first NHL game, to be completely fair) and resulted in Gabriel going off for concussion protocol. But not before Gabriel essentially mugged Scott Laughton looking for his retribution. That whole play came at the 7:39 mark.

At the 9:57 mark, all hell broke loose as Severson, in response to Patrick’s interference on Gabriel, went after Patrick and Sami Vatanen roughed up Konecny. In the end, Vatanen, Severson and Patrick each went off for roughing while Konecny was nabbed for a cross check. None of this happens if Patrick either A) does not retaliate for a play that Gabriel already served a five minute major penalty for or B) the officials call the interference penalty against Patrick. It is not a matter of the Devils getting a power play, because the game was likely over at that point anyway. It was more that the officials have to keep order in the game and protect the players from killing each other on plays like Patrick’s. Hockey is a dangerous sport and must be played with some control. Patrick will likely be facing a suspension for the interference, but the officials (and this is easier said than done from me) need to keep control in these situations or someone is going to get hurt badly.

Anyway, the Devils would pull Cory with just under five minutes left in the game and Konecny would score into the empty net. That goal came at 16:12 and van Riemsdyk had the primary assist for his third point of the game (he would be named the game’s first star – Voracek the second and Giroux the third) and Laughton had the secondary.

The Devils would add a late goal to make it 6-3 when Bratt found a cutting Kevin Rooney coming in backdoor and he scored at 17:48. Damon Severson had the secondary assist as he had a hand in all three Devils goals.

In the end, the Devils out shot Philly 33-24 (the Flyers had the empty net goal), won 67-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Flyers 21-17 but blocked less shots (11-8) and had more giveaways at eight to the Flyers four.

Individually, Vatanen led everyone with 24:24 time on ice (30 seconds on the power play and 5:02 shorthanded) while Blake Coleman led the forwards with 19:49 (including 4:37 on the PK). Coleman also led the team in shots on goal with five and co-led in hits with four along with Nathan Bastian. Severson, in addition to his great offensive night, also led the team in blocked shots with two. SIx players had one takeaway to lead there (Stafford, Zajac, Coleman, Blake Pietila, Rooney and Bratt).

Next up, the Devils and their MASH unit travel up to Boston to take on old friend Marcus Johansson and the Bruins tomorrow night. We will have that one for you right here and, of course, appreciate any comments left below in the meantime.

Devils Edged by West-Leading Flames

The injury bug has bitten the Devils hard. Their list of injured players reads as a who’s who of the roster and got longer tonight. They are essentially icing the Binghamton Devils’ lineup the last few nights (when you also factor in the trades made at the deadline). The joke in the locker room, as MSG’s Erika Wachter said, was that the team was now the “New Jersey/Binghamton Devils.” Add to that that they were being paid a visit by the Western Conference leading Calgary Flames, winners of six straight, and you had a recipe for disaster.

But New Jersey held strong, only falling 2-1 to the Flames in a game that they were competitive in until the end.

We should start with the aforementioned injuries. Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha remain out while John Quenneville (upper body injury) joined them. Miles Wood is out for four weeks with a fractured ankle suffered in the game against Montreal and Kyle Palmieri is now week-to-week with a lower body injury. Nico Hischier wore an “A” on his jersey to replace Palmieri as an alternate captain.

In addition, Mirco Mueller left tonight’s game after a scary head-long crash into the end boards as he toe-picked on a 2-on-1 early in the third period. He fell and was unable to protect himself when he went into the wall. He was stretchered off of the ice after several moments of him not moving. But he did give the thumbs up sign as he left, so he seems like he is okay in that regard. In the postgame show, Wachter did say that the team announced that he had full feeling in his extremities and was alert. He was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

With all of that, the team recalled Nick Lappin and Blake Pietila from Binghamton. They also got Sami Vatanen back off of injured reserve, as he had been dealing with a concussion since last month. Will Butcher also was back tonight, playing on the third defensive pairing with Connor Carrick. Steven Santini was the lone healthy scratch with those two d-men making their way back into the lineup.

One defenseman who did play tonight, but not on the blue line, was Egor Yakovlev. He was moved up to forward, playing left wing on the fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Kurtis Gabriel.

The goalie matchup saw Mackenzie Blackwood get his first start for the team since February 2 at Montreal. He stopped 33 of 35 for a .943 save percentage. Facing him was David Rittich for Calgary, who stopped 19 of 20 Devils shots for a .950 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils did not have a power play until the third period, but they could not convert on any of them, going 0-for-2 with five shots. Their lone goal came shorthanded (they had two shots while killing off penalties, scoring on the one). The Flames were 1-for-4 with the man advantage with seven shots on net. They did not register a shorthanded shot.

All of the scoring came in the second frame, with Calgary getting it kicked off 1:07 into the period. The Devils were killing off a 5-on-3 power play that had carried over from the first period. Damon Severson was called for tripping at 19:03 followed by Blake Coleman going off for high-sticking at 19:34. The Calgary goal, scored by Elias Lindholm off assists from Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, came just as Severson’s penalty had expired and he was stepping back on the ice. Travis Zajac’s stick broke on the play, leaving the Devils with essentially two effective players on the ice. Lindholm tried to make a pass through the crease and the puck deflected in off of Vatanen’s skate, making it 1-0 Flames.

Calgary would double that lead at the 13:52 mark of the second when Mark Giordano scored. It was a nice goal as Gaudreau reversed course and passed to Giordano cutting towards the goal. Giordano took the pass, hesitated on the shot, skated around the Devils’ defender and made a move to the backhand, around Blackwood. It was a beautiful goal and a nice individual effort by Giordano to make it 2-0 Flames.

But the Devils were not completely out of things. At 14:54, Coleman (who ended up with eight minutes in penalties in the game, including a roughing call at 20:00 of the third) took another high-sticking penalty, putting the Devils back on the PK. At 16:47, Kevin Rooney stripped Gaudreau of the puck in his own end, cut to the middle of the ice and beat Rittich to make it 2-1. Rittich got a piece of the puck with his glove, but the shot trickled through to cut the Calgary lead in half.

And that was the final. The Devils pulled Blackwood with about 1:52 left in regulation, but were unable to tie things as the Flames held on.

The Devils were out shot 35 to 20, including being out shot 15 to 5 in the first two periods. They out shot the Flames 20 to 5 in the third. Giordano was the game’s third star for his nice goal while Gaudreau was the first star with two assists on the night. Blackwood was named the second star for standing up to the sheer volume of rubber that he saw.

The Devils did dominate in the faceoff circle, winning 62-percent of the game’s draws. They also led in hits (42-31) and blocked shots (11-10) and had three more giveaways than Calgary at nine to six.

Individually, Andy Greene led in time on ice with 22:28 (one second of PP time and 4:56 on the PK), just edging out Vatanen, who logged 22:12. Up front, Coleman led in TOI, logging 22:08 (including one second on the PP and 31 seconds on the PK) – which is kind of surprising since he was in the penalty box so much.

Zajac led in shots on goal with four. Coleman, Gabriel and Nathan Bastian led in hits with five each. Vatanen blocked three shots to lead in that category, including one late with the Devils’ net empty to save a goal and takeaways were led by Nico Hischier and Rooney with two each.

Next up, the Devils will meet up with their Turnpike rivals when the Philadelphia Flyers come to town for the final meeting of the year between them. That game is on Friday and is the start of a back-to-back. We will have that game for you right here. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below as we always appreciate it.

Devils Make Deals at Deadline Then Defeat Habs

Today was a busy day for the Devils and GM Ray Shero. On NHL Trade Deadline day, they shipped off another two cogs in the system and then went on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens at home 2-1.

The first domino fell earlier this morning when news broke that goalie Keith Kinkaid was being sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round pick in 2022. Keith is an upcoming UFA and, quite frankly, with the way he had been underperforming this season, to get anything for him was gravy at this point. That being said, he (along with Taylor Hall) was amazing last season in getting the Devils into the playoffs and that should never be overlooked. Kinkaid really did contribute a lot to the Devils in his time here.

As early as that trade occurred, another one helped to close out the deadline. Marcus Johansson was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a second round pick in 2019 and a fourth round pick in 2020. This was a good deal as well as the Devils now posess ten picks in the 2019 Draft in Vancouver and, through these deals and the ones that sent Brian Boyle to Nashville and Ben Lovejoy to Dallas, got five picks alone at the deadline. Draft picks are great assets that can turn into players or trading up at the Draft. This year is also a pretty deep draft, so the more picks the better for the Devils.

WIth the trades and some injuries, there was a little bit of turmoil in the lineup tonight. A bunch of callups from Binghamton including Nathan Bastian, Mike McLeod, Egor Yakovlev, Mackenzie Blackwood and John Quenneville. Add to that that Connor Carrick, who was obtained in the Ben Lovejoy deal, was making his Devils debut and that there were some injuries and you had a whole new lineup for the Devils. In addition, Brett Seney and Joey Anderson were sent down to Binghamton.

Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher were both missing as they are day-to-day with lower body injuries. Add Pavel Zacha to that and you had quite a bit missing. Add in even more as the Devils also lost Miles Wood (who was hit in the ankle by a Damon Severson shot midway through the first period) and Quenneville in the game tonight.

After sorting all of that out, it is important to remeber that they did have a game tonight. To paraphrase Ray Shero from during an interview with Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador on the MSG pregame show, these moves will allow the younger players to come in and show management what they have.

In goal, Cory Schneider got the nod, coming off his first loss in five games at the Rangers on Saturday. He made 34 saves on 35 Montreal shots for a .971 save percentage. Facing him as the Devils went for the season sweep of the Canadiens was Carey Price, who stopped 20 of 22 for a .909 save percentage.

On the special teams, the Devils finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play with four shots. They also had a shot on the penalty kill. Montreal was 0-for-4 on the power play with five shots. They also had four shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.

Nathan Bastian got the goal scoring going when he notched his first NHL goal at the 12:35 mark of the first period. It happened when Yakovlev went D to D with Carrick at the point. Carrick then shot and Bastian, cutting by the crease, tipped the puck past Price to make it 1-0 Devils. In addition to Bastian scoring his first NHL goal, Carrick also got his first point as a Devil on the play and his first of two on the night.

In the second period, Kurtis Gabriel doubled the Devils’ lead to two when he scored 3:06 in. Kevin Rooney worked the puck out of the corner up high to Carrick at the point. Carrick shot and Price made the initial save, but Gabriel was there for the rebound and backhanded the puck by Price to make it 2-0 Devils. Carrick, who wore number 5, had his second assist on the night and ended up being named the game’s third star. Bastian was the second star and Cory Schneider, with the win, was the first. Getting back to Carrick, this was his first two point night since opening night when he was with the Stars.

The Habs got on the board at the 6:30 mark of the third period when the Devils were on the power play. Artturi Lehkonen was called for elbowing Blake Coleman at 5:40 in a play that saw Coleman shaken up. On the ensuing power play, Travis Zajac lost control of the puck just inside the Canadiens’ blue line and Paul Byron grabbed it. He was then off to the races on a breakaway, just beating the backchecking Damon Severson in a footrace. He beat Cory short side to cut the New Jersey lead to 2-1. Phillip Danault had the lone assist on the goal.

Byron was in the thick of it late in the game as he clipped Kyle Palmieri in the knee behind the play with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Byron took an interference penalty on the play, which put the Devils on the power play to end the game, but Palmieri was still upset about the incident and the two had words after the final buzzer sounded with their respective teams trying to keep them apart.

But 2-1 was the final score as the Devils took the season series of three games from Montreal and won their fifth straight over the Habs.

In the game, the Devils were out shot by the Canadiens, 35-22 and Montreal won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils had more hits at 24-10 and more giveaways at 8-5. Both teams each blocked 11 shots.

With all of the young players in the lineup, ice time was pretty evenly distributed for the forwards with Coleman logging the most with 25:45 (including 1:56 on the power play and 4:37 on the PK). Severson logged an impressive 27:05 of TOI (including 6:04 on the PP and 5:12 killing off penalties) as his game and responsibilities continue to grow.

As for the other stats, Nico Hischier, Bastian and Carrick each led in shots on goal with three each. Hits were led by Gabriel with six, blocks by Carrick with three and takeaways by the Jersey boys, Kenny Agostino and Kyle Palmieri, with two each.

Next up, the Devils will face a stiff test as the red hot Calgary Flames come into town on Wednesday. The Flames have had a good season so far and the Devils will try to deny them two points which would go a long way in cutting off their hopes of winning the Pacific Division. We will have coverage of that for you right here and, once again, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below as we really appreciate them.

Devils Fall to Rangers in Saturday Matinee

First off, I apologize for getting this up so late. I had a family function but was still able to catch the game.

The Devils made a deal to send out another impending UFA, but ended up falling to the Rangers 5-2 at Madison Square Garden earlier today.

New Jersey started the day with the news that defenseman Ben Lovejoy had been shipped off to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and the Stars’ third round pick in this year’s Draft.

Carrick, a 5-foot, 11-inch, 195-pound 24-year-old native of Orland Park, Illinois, was drafted by the Capitals in 137th overall in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft and has played in 181 regular season NHL games for the Caps, the Maple Leafs and Dallas. He played for the US National Development Team and the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL before representing the US at the 2014 World Junior Championship. He had a goal and three assists for four points and 13 penalty minutes this season for Dallas. His time has been limited to only 14 games due to a foot injury suffered earlier this season.

Carrick did not play in today’s game at the Rangers, but is expected to join the team by Monday for the game against the Canadiens. Marcus Johansson was a healthy scratch for the Devils today as he continues to be held out for “precautionary reasons.” As another Devils UFA with trade value, Johansson will likely be traded prior to Monday’s trade deadline. Pavel Zacha was also a scratch today, as he continues to deal with an injury.

Miles Wood was back after leaving Thursday’s game with an injury after the second period. He had a three game goal-scoring streak snapped this afternoon.

The Rangers are in a similar situation to the Devils and held out Kevin Hayes, Adam McQuaid and Mats Zuccarello – all unrestricted free agents that will likely be dealt to a contender as well by Monday.

As for today’s game, the Devils went back to Cory Schneider in net. He stopped 29 of 33 New York shots for an .879 save percentage. The Rangers added another shot with an empty netter late in the game. For the Rangers, Alexander Georgiev made the start, stopping 19 of 21 for a .905 save percentage.

Special teams saw the Rangers officially go 1-for-3 (although they scored one goal just as a penalty was expiring, with the Devils essentially shorthanded) with five shots on the power play and one on the PK. New Jersey was 0-for-2 with three power play shots and a shorthanded shot as well.

The Rangers got on the board first just 4:48 into the game when, with a power play just ending (Brett Seney had gone off for boarding at 2:48), Cory made a save but could not cover the puck up. Jimmy Vesey then put in the loose puck. Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo had the assists. The Rangers were up 1-0, stopping Cory’s shut out streak at 85:44.

New York doubled their lead when Ryan Strome scored a goal that did count as a power play goal at 8:54 of the first. At 6:55, Drew Stafford was called for tripping Vladislav Namestnikov and on the ensuing man advantage, play broke down in front of the Devils’ net. Chris Kreider made a nice backhanded, no-look pass to Strome, who shoveled the puck into the open New Jersey goal mouth. Buchnevich had the secondary assist.

A minute or so after the second Ranger goal, Kurtis Gabriel got into it with Brendan Smith. It was not a full fledged scrap as it ended once Gabriel lost his balance and went down, but you can appreciate just what Gabriel was trying to do to get his team fired up.

Unfortunately, it was not enough as the Rangers struck again at the 14:23 mark of the first, making it 3-0. It came, once again, off of a scramble in front of the Devils’ net and saw Kreider poke home a loose puck. Vesey had the secondary assist (giving him two points in the period along with Kreider and Buchnevich) and Mika Zibanejad, who victimized the Devils last month at Prudential Center, had the primary.

A scoreless second period brought us to the final frame where the Devils cut the lead to 3-1 when Kenny Agostino scored his first as a Devil. It came at the 2:20 mark of the second and occurred when a Rangers player turned the puck over, trying to clear the puck up the middle and found Agostino cruising into the slot. He beat Georgiev unassisted and the Devils seemed to be back into things.

But a Brady Skjei goal at the 11:08 mark put New York up 4-1 and things started to get out of reach for the Devils. Skjei blasted a shot from the point that beat Cory cleanly off assists from Zibanejad and Kevin Shattenkirk. Following the goal, Eric Gryba and Kreider went at it, wrestling each other to the ice. The Devils would use their coach’s challenge to see if there was goaltender interference by Kreider in front, but the replay showed that there was not and the call of good goal stood. The Devils then lost their timeout, but this was one that they had to challenge for if they had even an inkling that there might have been goalie interference.

Andy Greene would get the Devils back within two when he scored 1:51 later from Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier. Palmieri stripped a Ranger of the puck deep in the New York zone and got it to Greene, cutting in through the slot. The captain found the back of the net for his fourth of the season and made it 4-2 Rangers.

The Devils would pull Schneider with about 2:30 remaining in the game and Strome would add his second of the night into an empty net to give us our final of 5-2. He scored from Namestnikov and Jesper Fast. In the end, Vesey, Strome, Kreider, Buchnevich and Zibanejad all had a multi-point game for New York. Kreider was the first star of the afternoon while Zibanejad was the second and Vesey the third.

With the empty net goal, the Rangers out shot the Devils 34-21. They also won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at 15 to the Devils’ 13. The Devils were the more physical team with 29 hits to the Rangers’ 21 and had more blocked shots at 18 to New York’s ten.

Individual stats saw ice time led by Damon Severson with 25:15 (inlcuding 2:48 on the power play and 3:37 on the penalty kill). Nico Hischier edged Jesper Bratt in ice time to lead the forwards 20:48 to 20:45. Hischier logged 2:52 on the PP and 25 seconds shorthanded. Shots on goal for the Devils was led by Hischier, Palmieri, Wood and Greene who each had three. The hits category was led by BLake Coleman with six while blocked shots was led by Wood with three. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Seney, Wood, Bratt and Greene who each had one.

Next up, New Jersey returns home to Prudential Center to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Connor Carrick should be in the lineup then and we will see how he does in his Devils debut. It was a good deal for the Devils, as many thought that they would only get a draft pick for Lovejoy and they, instead, not only got the pick (which they continue to stockpile) but an NHL roster player in the deal as well.

We will have coverage of the Devils-Habs game for you right here on Monday. Again, any comments left below are encouraged and we really appreciate them.

Devils Blank Senators 4-0

Cory Schneider got the shut out and his third straight win and Kurtis Gabriel scored his first National Hockey League goal as the Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0 last night at Prudential Center.

Some interesting notes to get to first as Matt Duchene and Mark Stone were healthy scratches for the Senators and Marcus Johansson and Ben Lovejoy the same for the Devils. The Devils said that Johansson, in particular, was being held out for “precautionary reasons.” The four are likely being shipped out to new homes as the NHL trading deadline looms ever nearer on Monday, February 25. Pavel Zacha was the Devils’ other scratch, as he continues battling an injury.

For the Devils, it was kind of a makeshift roster with a lot of the younger players slotting in and making an impact. Eric Gryba and Steven Santini were in on defense while Gabriel and Brett Seney were in up front.

Between the pipes, Anders Nilsson went for Ottawa, stopping 27 of 31 shots against for an .871 save percentage. Cory Schneider started for the Devils and, although he was facing the Sens, one of the worst teams in the NHL, make no mistake, he earned this shutout. He stood on his head at times to stop all 30 Ottawa shots he saw for a 1.000 save percentage. The Senators out shot the Devils in the second period (16-10) and the third (10-7), so Cory was busy. He may not be totally back to his normal form, but he is certainly getting there, which is great to see.

Special teams-wise, both teams laid an ofer. The Devils were 0-for-2 with six power play shots and two shorthanded shots, all of which Nilsson turned aside. The Sens were 0-for-4 with five shots. Cory, of course, got all of those.

The Devils were celebrating Black History Month last night at The Rock with New Jersey-native and Grammy Award winner Wyclef Jean dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff along with the Devils’ own former captain Bryce Salvador.

Travis Zajac began the scoring at the 11:45 mark of the first. Zajac redirected a Miles Wood shot by Nilsson to make it 1-0 Devils. Will Butcher had the secondary assist. Zajac went on to be named the game’s second star for the goal while Butcher would finish the night with two points (both assists). Gabriel was the third star while Cory Schneider was the first. That goal was all the Devils needed.

Just about 3:09 later, Steven Santini scored his first of the year from Jesper Bratt and Butcher when they worked the puck around the perimeter to Santini at the point. He fired and beat Nilsson cleanly to make it 2-0 Devils.

The rest of the scoring took place in the second period, with Gabriel notching his first NHL goal from Seney at 3:40 of the middle frame. It occurred when Seney won an offensive zone draw to Gabriel, who jumped into the circle and fired, roofing the puck over Nilsson to make it 3-0 Devils. Congratulations to Gabriel on his first NHL goal.

The last goal of the game came off the stick of Miles Wood to give us our final of 4-0. Wood had set up shop in front of the Senators’ net and Damon Severson threaded the needle to get the puck to him in front. The secondary assist went to Andy Greene, who did a good job of working the puck down low to give to Severson.

Statistically, the Devils out shot the Sens 31-30, had more hits at 22-18 and more blocked shots at 18-8. The Sens won a whopping 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs and the Devils had more giveaways at 11 to the Sens’ five.

Individually, Kenny Agostino and Wood led in shots with four each, Gabriel led in hits with five in addition to moonlighting as a goal scorer, Mirco Mueller led in blocks with four and Seney led in takeaways with two.

Ice time was led by Severson with 23:22 (including 3:44 on the power play and 4:33 shorthanded). The forwards were led by Nico Hischier with 19:22 (including 3:22 on the PP and 3:00 on the PK).

Next up on Saturday, the Devils head across the Hudson River to take on their rivals the Rangers. That trip into Manhattan breaks up a home stand that will last a few more games. The Devils will faceoff with New York at 1 PM on Saturday. We will have that for you right here. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below. We always appreciate them.

Devils Party Like It’s 1999, But Fall to Pens

The Devils celebrated 90’s Night at Prudential Center tonight, with everything from music and movie clips from the decade shown on the video board to none other than David Puddy himself, actor Patrick Warburton, showing up to drop the ceremonial faceoff puck.

But aside from all of that hoopla, they were also trying to win their third straight game and sweep the season series from the Pittsburgh Penguins. On those fronts, they failed, losing 4-3 in what was a hard fought loss for New Jersey.

In a nice little bit of coincidence, one of the few Devils alive for the entire decade of the 1990’s, Travis Zajac, was celebrating a milestone tonight. He was playing in his 900th NHL contest (all with the Devils), which puts him at sixth on the Devils’ all-time games played list. One stat that the MSG broadcast mentioned that I thought was really appropriate as regards Travis, he has won 7,860 faceoffs since his rookie year of 2006-07, the most on the Devils in that span. A testament not only to his longevity, but also to his abilty to excel in the faceoff circle. Congratulations to Travis on this great milestone.

Roster-wise, the Devils got Blake Coleman back off of injured reserve. Nick Lappin was sent back to Binghamton to make room on the roster for him. Coleman played primarily on a the third line, centering Kenny Agostino and Joey Anderson. Pavel Zacha missed his second straight game as he was a scratch today and is day-to-day. Steven Santini and Kurtis Gabriel were the healthy scratches.

In goal, the Devils went back to Keith Kinkaid. This was partly because Cory Schneider had played in the parts of the last three games and because Kinkaid had seemingly had Pittsburgh’s number this season. He made 24 saves on 28 shots against for an .857 save percentage. Facing him was Matt Murray, who stopped 33 of 36 shots for a .917 save percentage and was just better tonight than Kinkaid was.

The special teams are something that the Devils needed to be aware of against the Penguins. Their power play needs no introduction and they went 1-for-2 on the night with two shots. They also had three shorthanded shots. The Devils were 0-for-2 with three shots on the power play.

The Devils got on the board to start when the Devils won a faceoff deep in the Pittsburgh zone 2:14 into the game. The puck came back to Mirco Mueller who gave the puck to Marcus Johansson, who then immediately found a nice seam to Jesper Bratt. Bratt then fired from a weird angle and beat Murray to make it 1-0 Devils. Both Mueller (two assists), Johansson (a goal and an assist) and Bratt (a goal and an assist) had a multi-point game. For Mueller, this was his first multi-point game as a Devil.

Then some controversy, as Zach Aston-Reese, a Staten Island kid who played youth hockey for the New Jersey Rockets, scored at 6:49. This goal occurred a minute after the Pens had six men on the ice. The too many men penalty was nearly called too, until the officials conferenced and decided not to call it. Devils’ coach John Hynes mentioned in his post game presser on MSG that he received an explanation for the referees, but did not fully understand it. He said that these things happen in the course of a game. Aston-Reese got assists on the goal from Sidney Crosby and Brian Dumoulin and the score was now tied at one.

Johansson would put the Devils back on top at 12:17 of the first when he stole the puck from Phil Kessel at the Devils blue line and was off ot the races. He came up the right wing boards and cut in tight, backhanding it between Murray’s glove and his near post. It was a pretty goal and one that made it 2-1 Devils.

But Pittsburgh would tie things up before the first intermission on the power play. It came at 18:24 while Brett Seney was serving a tripping penalty and came off of the stick of newly-acquired Nick Bjugstad. He took a pass from Marcus Pettersson at the top of the near faceoff circle and fired it over Kinkaid’s shoulder. Dominik Simon had the secondary assist on the goal. The game was tied up at two apiece as we were headed for the first intermission.

The second period was where things began to fall apart for the Devils. At 10:45, the Penguins took the 3-2 lead when Jake Guentzel came up the left wing wall and centered a pass to Bryan Rust. Rust’s shot trickled by Kinkaid to give the Pens the one goal advantage.

Six minutes and about 16 seconds later, the Pens put the hammer down when, following a scramble in front where Kinkaid made a few nice saves, Evgeni Malkin got the puck back to Chad Ruhwedel at the point. He fired a puck that fluttered by Kinkaid. Toronto checked the goal to make sure it was not tipped in front by a high stick, but Ruhwedel’s shot had cleanly beat Kinkaid. That goal made it 4-2 Penguins.

The Devils would get some hope when Miles Wood drove up the left wing at 15:10, using a power move to slide the puck by Murray to make it 4-3. Damon Severson and Zajac had the assists on the goal. The Devils seemed to be poised for another comeback, until Blake Coleman was called for tripping Dumoulin at the 17:09 mark of the third. If the Devils killed this off, which they did, then that would leave them with about 51 seconds with which to work with to get things tied. They pulled Kinkaid with a little over 30 seconds to go, but to no avail. The Penguins hung on for the 4-3 win.

As Steve Cangialosi of MSG stated, 2009-10 remains the last time the Devils have swept a season series from Pittsburgh, when they went 6-0-0 against the Pens.

The Devils ended up out shooting the Penguins 36-28 and won 56-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They also out hit the Pens, 23-15 and had more blocked shots at 11 to Pittsburgh’s eight. Tellingly, the Devils had ten more giveaways than the Pens at 13-3.

Individually, Marcus Johansson had a great game, leading the Devils in shots on goal with eight and blocks with four, hits were led by Coleman with five. Kevin Rooney led in takeaways with three. Just for the record, Travis Zajac won 60-percent of the faceoffs he took on the night. Time on ice was led by Severson with 22:46 (including 2:20 on the power play and 1:15 shorthanded). Zajac led the forwards with 21:47 (2:02 on the PP and 1:59 killing penalties).

Next up, the Devils will host the last place Ottawa Senators on Thursday in a battle of two of the NHL’s “no so best.” Will Matt Duchene still be a Senator by Thursday? We will find out. I will be attending this game live, so my post will be up a little bit later than usual. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Devils Win Second Straight; Defeat Sabres 4-1

Kyle Palmieri had a goal and two assists and Cory Schneider got the win as the Devils defeated the Buffalo Sabres at Prudential Center this evening. For the Devils, it is their first back-to-back set of wins since January 12 and 14, following their come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

The Devils lineup stayed largely the same as the other night with the lone exception of Pavel Zacha taking the night off with an upper body injury. He is said to be day-to-day. Nick Lappin and Steven Santini were the other scratches. The Devils are looking at some reinforcements coming in soon. As per Erika Wachter of MSG Networks, Sami Vatanen (concussion) practiced with the team earlier today and could be returning soon.

Also, a big congratulations to Nico Hischier as his overtime goal in Minny on Friday made him the first player in Devils history to score three OT goals before his 21st birthday. In another milestone, Kenny Agostino was making his home debut as a member of the Devils. He was sure to have a lot of friends and family in attendance at The Rock as the Jersey native was back in New Jersey for the first time as a home team player.

In goal, Cory Schneider got the start for the Devils after his relief win in Minnesota that got him back in the winning column. Schneider stopped 34-of-35 shots for a .971 save percentage on the night. Down the rink was Carter Hutton who has one win since January 8 when the Sabres beat the Devils up in Buffalo. He stopped 20-of-23 for an .870 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils kept the Sabres 0-for-3 on the power play with three shots. They also had a shorthanded shot which Cory turned aside as well. The Devils were 1-for-2 with four shots. Although the Devils did not register a shorthanded shot, Joey Anderson did score a shorthanded empty net goal. The shot was from too far beyond the blue line to count for a shot, but did count as the Devils’ fourth goal.

The game started off with a bang when Kurtis Gabriel and Zach Bogosian were jawing at each other during warmups. Bogosian took a few swipes at Gabriel with his stick, but nothing came of it during the actual game.

Following a scoreless first period, the Devils got the scoring going in the game 7:25 into the second when Travis Zajac chipped the puck up off the boards to Kyle Palmieri, which caused a Devils 2-on-1 odd man rush with Palmieri and Miles Wood. Palmieri passed to Wood and the puck went in off of Wood’s skate. He then crashed into the net, dislodging it. However, the puck was already across the line and there was no kicking motion so the goal stood. Buffalo coach Phil Housley did not even challenge the goal, allowing the call to stand. It was 1-0 Devils.

The second goal came on the power play for the Devils when the Sabres’ Vladimir Sobotka was off for holding at 13:06. At 13:38, Damon Severson got the puck to Palmieri, who found a passing seam to Jesper Bratt and made a nice pass ot him on the far side. Bratt took a shot that beat Hutton and then went in-and-out of the net. The referee signaled right away that it was a goal and the Devils were up 2-0.

But Buffalo would cut that lead in half with just 56 seconds remaining in the second period when Sam Reinhart was all alone at the bottom of the far faceoff circle. He took a pass from Bogosian and had a wide-open net to shoot at. He did not miss and scored. This was just after Eric Gryba had gotten out of the penalty box for hooking, but it obviously was not a power play goal. Buffalo had scored in the final minute of the second period, which is always something coaches do not like, as it could transfer momentum to the other side.

But the Devils came out ready for the third period. After holding Buffalo back for most of the period, Zajac again used the boards to chip the puck up ahead to Palmieri. Palmieri skated up the right wing with the puck and wristed it through Hutton’s glove hand and the post, just sneaking it in to give the Devils the 3-1 lead. Andy Greene, who earlier in the game took a puck to the face, but did not miss much time, had the secondary assist. Zajac finished the game with two assists.

At 15:40, Severson took a tripping penalty against Jeff Skinner that put the Sabres on the power play at a crucial time. About 1:10 into the power play, Buffalo would pull Hutton for the sixth attacker (a tricky move since the Devils could just shoot openly at the empty net due to no icing). But they had some trouble getting the extra man on and Joey Anderson took advantage by shooting into the empty net and scoring to give us our final of 4-1. Greene had the lone assist on this goal, giving him two assists on the night.

The Devils were out shot once again in this win, 35-24. They also won only 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at 13-6. They did out hit Buffalo 27-20 and blocked more shots at 17-10.

Individually, Severson led everyone in ice time with 21:46 (including 1:44 of PP time) and Zajac led the forwards with 20:47 (1:44 on the PP and 3:21 on the PK). Palmieri led in shots and hits with four in each category. Blocks were led by Mirco Mueller with three and takeaways by Agostino, Zajac, Palmieri, Marcus Johansson, Gryba and Will Butcher each with one apiece.

Next up, Tuesday as the Devils go for the season series sweep against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center. New Jersey has had the Pens’ number this year and they will try to make it three in a row at 7 PM on Tuesday. We will have a write up here for you then. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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.