Following yesterday’s abomination of a third period in Calgary, the Devils were looking to make a better statement a few miles north in Edmonton. And while the Flames are a team that is safely in a playoff position, the Oilers are at the other end of the spectrum: fighting for their playoff lives. The Devils came in to Rogers Place and played spoiler, defeating the Oilers 6-3. That snapped the Devils’ seven game winless streak over which they were 0-6-1.
But first, a few roster changes and a debut to note. Nick Lappin and Eric Tangradi were out up front while Egor Yakovlev was out on the blue line. Taking Yakovlev’s place on the roster tonight was 21-year-old Colton White. White was paired with Steven Santini and wore number 68. He became the second player in Devils history to wear that number following Jaromir Jagr.
In goal, Cory Schneider once again alternated with Mackenzie Blackwood. Schneider played a good game, making 36 saves on 39 Oilers shots for a .923 save percentage on the night. For Edmonton, Mikko Koskinen got the start, stopping just 14 of 18 for a .778 save percentage. He did not have what the Oilers needed tonight and was pulled midway through the second period in favor of Edison, New Jersey native Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz, a former Flyer picked up in a trade just before the deadline for Cam Talbot, grew up a Marty Brodeur and Devils fan and NBCSN actually showed a photo of him as a young child dressed in Devils gear. Anyway, he stopped 15 of 17 shots against for an .882 save percentage.
On special teams, the Devils had a good night. They went 2-for-4 on the power play with five shots total and had two shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on. Edmonton was 1-for-5 on the power play with a huge nine shots and had one shorthanded shot.
To the action as the game began almost immediately with a great scrap 3:09 in. Kurtis Gabriel was chirping at Milan Lucic right from the opening faceoff and finally goaded him into a fight. If you are into the fighting, you might want to check this one out on YouTube or the NHL website. The two fought to a draw and threw some haymakers during the bout. Lucic was pretty gassed by the end, but Gabriel really held his own.
The first goal of the game was scored by Kenny Agostino and it was an odd one. Andy Greene sent the puck up the boards and Agostino grabbed the pass, cut in on Koskinen and the puck kind of rolled up the Edmonton goaltender’s shoulder, over and in to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. That goal came at 7:34, just as a penalty to White was expiring (so it was not shorthanded) off assists to Greene and Kevin Rooney.
The Oilers would tie the game up at the 9:37 mark when Sam Gagner redirected a shot in that was first redirected off the leg of Will Butcher. It was another weird goal, but it counted the same. Jujhar Khaira and Matt Benning had the assists on that one.
Edmonton would then grab the lead later in the first when Alex Chiasson scored on the power play. Drew Stafford was called for tripping Khaira and the Oilers had the man advantage. At 14:22, the Oilers won a 50/50 puck battle and Connor McDavid slipped a pass to Chiasson who tipped it by Cory to make it 2-1 Oilers. Oscar Klefbom had the other assist on the goal.
But the Devils would answer back with a PPG of their own with 19 seconds remaining in the first frame. Chiasson went off for slashing at 19:08 and at 19:41, Damon Severson made a pass from the point to Travis Zajac down low. Zajac made a nice move around Koskinen to knot things at two going into the second period.
The memory of last night’s third period fresh in their minds, the Devils had an offensive outburst of their own in the second period tonight. It began on the power play when Klefbom went off for holding the stick at 5:16. At the 6:23 mark on that man advantage, the Devils caught Edmonton in a bad change as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was unable to get on the ice while the Devils rushed up. Severson then wristed the puck by Koskinen. Stafford and Connor Carrick had the assists. The Devils now had the 3-2 lead and would not look back.
At 12:49, Edmonton-native John Quenneville beat Koskinen cleanly with a slap shot off assists from Gabriel and Butcher. It was this goal that gave New Jersey a 4-2 lead and chased Koskinen in favor of Stolarz.
A few minutes later at 16:32, Rooney would find the back of the net when Agostino recovered the puck in the neutral zone and dropped a pass for Rooney just inside the Oilers’ blue line. Rooney then wristed a shot by Stolarz that gave the Devils a 5-2 lead. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist.
The Devils were seemingly rolling until 19:19 of the second period when McDavid passed to Benning, who was camped out at the near faceoff dot. He fired a one-timer that beat Cory through a screen. Andrej Sekera had the secondary assist. For McDavid, the primary assist was his 100th point of the season. That meant that this was the third straight season the Oiler superstar had recorded at least 100 points.
But it was the Devils who got the win and possibly spoiled Edmonton’s higher hopes. The icing of the game came when the Devils were shorthanded in the third period. Will Butcher had inadvertently cleared the puck over the glass in the Devils’ defensive zone, resulting in a delay of game penalty, putting the Devils down a man at 11:39. At 12:06, Andy Greene lofted the puck up on a soft clear. He found Blake Coleman streaking up the left side and Coleman grabbed it, cut in all alone on Stolarz, beating him five-hole with a backhand. It was a nice goal and gave us our final of 6-3 Devils.
Agostino, with a goal and an assist, would be named the game’s first star. Severson, also with a goal and an assist, was the second star. McDavid, with two assists and the milestone of 100 points for the year, was the game’s third star.
The Devils were out shot on the night 39 to 35, but won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Oilers also out hit the Devils 31-25 and had more giveaways at 11 to the Devils’ seven. The Devils had more blocked shots (23-9).
Ice time-wise, Severson once again led all Devils skaters with 23:51 (2:52 on the power play and 5:11 shorthanded). Blake Pietila, benefiting from the young guys getting auditions, led the forwards with 18:37 (56 seconds on the PP/59 seconds on the PK). Severson led in shots on goal with four, Gabriel and Santini led in hits with four each, Greene led in blocks with seven and Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod, Pietila, Greene and Butcher all had one takeaway to lead in that category.
Next up for the Devils, it’s off to Vancouver on Friday. That game is a 10 PM ET puck drop and we will have that for you right here. That game is back on the MSG Networks locally. In the meantime, please feel free to leave any comments below as we always appreciate them.