Devils Bounce Back With Victory in Edmonton

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.

Flames Explode, Blow Devils Out 9-4

The Devils traveled to the Saddledome to take on Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames and it was business as usual for Calgary. They absolutely destroyed the Devils tonight, scoring seemingly at will in the third period as they trounced New Jersey 9-4. This included a Gaudreau hat trick that helped seal the deal.

Firstly, a bit of housekeeping as I forgot to mention that Travis Zajac’s assist on Blake Coleman’s goal the other night at the Rangers was his 500th NHL point, all with the Devils. He becomes the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish this feat, joining Patrik Elias, John MacLean and Kirk Muller. Congratulations to Travis Zajac on this great milestone.

On the injury/call up front, Miles Wood (fractured ankle) joined the team on the western trip and skated with them this morning. John Quenneville also joined the team out west. Kevin Rooney returned from illness tonight and played while Kurtis Gabriel was out with an illness. Also, defenseman Colton White was recalled from AHL Binghamton. He was a healthy scratch tonight but will likely make his NHL debut sometime during the road trip.

In goal, the Devils were back with Mackenzie Blackwood. He stopped 30 of 39 shots against for a dismal .769 save percentage on the evening. Calgary countered with David Rittich who made 22 saves on 26 Devils shots against for an .846 save percentage.

Special teams did not feature many power plays (only three total in the game) but did feature a shorthanded goal by the Devils and a penalty shot goal as one of Gaudreau’s three. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play without registering a power play shot. They did have two shorthanded shots, however. The Flames were 0-for-1 on the power play with no shots either on the power play or penalty kill.

And now to the madness. Gaudreau got his first of the night just 5:05 into the game when Elias Lindholm made a nice pass to Sean Monahan through the neutral zone. He flipped it up to Gaudreau who cut in to beat Blackwood. It was 1-0 Calgary very quickly, but it would not stay that way for long. That goal extended Gaudreau’s point scoring streak against the Devils to six games (he had two goals and seven assists in the last five games against New Jersey coming into tonight).

At the 16:03 mark of the first, Blake Coleman blocked a shot inside the Devils’ blue line and was off on a 2-on-0 with Kyle Palmieri. Coleman elected to shoot, going backhand on Rittich to tie the game at one. That was Coleman’s 20th of the season.

It only took over two minutes for the Devils to grab the lead. At 18:18, Damon Severson threw a puck at the net and Palmieri was cutting by. He tipped it by Rittich with one hand on his stick, backhanded. It was a nice play and put the Devils up 2-1.

The Devils actually continued their bombardment of the Flames in the second period when Kenny Agostino scored 54 seconds into that frame. Connor Carrick went D to D with Will Butcher who then made a nice pass to Agostino. Agostino split the Calgary defense and scored. That made it 3-1 Devils.

But Calgary would rush right back. At 7:17 of the second, Mark Giordano made a nice blind backhand pass from behind the net to Sam Bennett who potted the puck to make it 3-2 Devils. Derek Ryan had the secondary assist on the goal.

Almost three minutes later, at 10:13, Elias Lindholm leveled things off at three. While battling with Sean Monahan behind the net, Andy Greene lost his stick, which allowed Monahan to make a pass to Lindholm on the doorstep. Blackwood made the initial save but could not get the rebound and the Flames had tied it. Gaudreau had the secondary assist.

But New Jersey would retake the lead again when Zajac scored shorthanded. The Devils were killing off a Stefan Noesen slashing penalty when, at 17:49 of the second, Greene made a clearing attempt/pass to Coleman who broke in with Zajac on a 2-on-1. Zajac took the pass and he sniped one short side to make it 4-3 Devils. Yes, the Devils actually had a one goal lead heading into the third period of this game.

But the third period would be a debacle from the Devils’ perspective. Calgary scored six unanswered (according to Steve Cangialosi, this was the first time the Devils had given up six in a period since a game back in 1989 when they endured a first period barrage by the Hartford Whalers). It began 41 seconds in and did not let up until there was 1:03 remaining in the game.

Derek Ryan scored that first goal when his shot was tipped by Rooney and fluttered in over Blackwood’s shoulder. Bennett and Giordano had the assists on the goal that would knot things at four.

The Flames took the lead for good at the 1:01 mark when Severson hauled down Gaudreau on a breakaway and Gaudreau was awarded a penalty shot. He snapped it by Blackwood’s stick side to make it 5-4. Calgary had scored two goals 20 seconds apart, but they were just getting warmed up.

Ryan scored his second of the game off of a 2-on-1 with Gaudreau. Blackwood came out and challenged Gaudreau, as you have to respect his shot, he passed to Ryan who was standing right behind Blackwood on the doorstep. Lindholm had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 6-4 Calgary.

At 12:01, Gaudreau finished off the hatty when Sean Monahan drew three Devils to him and he passed to Gaudreau who was all alone, cutting behind the Devils’ defense. That made it 7-4 and the rout was on. Rasmus Andersson had the secondary assist. According to a graphic put up by MSG, this was Gaudreau’s fifth hat trick of his career and his first since December 27 versus the Jets.

But he wasn’t done yet. Gaudreau would connect with Monahan all alone on the side of the Devils net and Monahan would score on the layup at 18:41. Lindholm had the secondary assist. So, for those scoring at home, that is four points (a goal and three assists) for Lindholm, four points for Monahan (a goal and three assists) and six points (three goals, three assists) for Gaudreau. According to Cangialosi on the post game show, Gaudreau became the 11th player in Flames history to collect six points in a game and the first since Al MacInnis did it in 1994. Not bad for a night’s work.

Matthew Tkachuk put the finishing touches on the Flames’ win when he scored from Oscar Fantenberg and Mikael Backlund at 18:57 to make it 9-4, our final. The nine goals surrendered by New Jersey was their highest such total of the season so far.

The Devils were out shot by Calgary, 39-26. The Flames won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but the Devils did have 27 hits to the Flames’ 14 and 19 blocked shots to the Flames’ seven. The Devils also had less giveaways at 18 to Calgary’s 20.

Individually, Connor Carrick led the skaters in ice time with 22:16 (2:13 on the PP/nine seconds on the PK) while Drew Stafford actually led the forwards with 17:56 TOI (including 2:36 on the power play). Shots were led by Coleman, Noesen and Will Butcher with three each while Noesen doled out six hits to lead that category. Greene had five blocked shots, leading in that category and takeaways were led by Palmieri, Noesen, Joey Anderson, Rooney, Steven Santini and Severson with one each.

Next up, the Devils have a quick turnaround. They travel to northern Alberta to Edmonton to take on the Oilers tomorrow in a game being televised by NBCSN on Wednesday Night Hockey. Puck drop for that one is 9:30 PM ET and we will have coverage for you right here shortly afterwards. In the meantime, please feel free to comment below.

Devils Blow Second Period Lead, Fall to Rangers

The Devils had not lost a game when leading after two periods since before John Hynes was named head coach. According to MSG Networks, the last time it happened was March 14, 2014 when it occurred against the Florida Panthers.

But there’s a first time for everything and tonight was the first time it happened in the Hynes Era. The Devils led 2-1 after two periods of play and ended up losing the game 4-2 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight.

Yet more roster turnover as we begin and the Devils take more lumps. Eric Tangradi and Brandon Gignac were recalled from AHL Binghamton as John Quenneville and Stefan Noesen were both out with upper body injuries tonight. For Tangradi, it was his Devils debut as he had last played in the NHL in the 2016-17 season. For Gignac, it was the youngster’s NHL debut. Tangradi played left wing on the third line while Gignac skated on the third line also on the left side.

The goaltending matchup featured the veterans rathers than the respective team’s young goalies. Cory Schneider went for the Devils, playing very well and stopping 37 of 40 shots against for a .925 save percentage on the night. Facing him was the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who recently joined Marty Brodeur as a NHL goalie to play 800 games for one team. He made 22 saves on 24 shots for a .917 save percentage.

A bright spot, besides Cory Schneider, for the Devils was their power play. They finally snapped their 10 game power play drought when Will Butcher had a shot from the point tipped in by Blake Coleman with 11 seconds remaining in the first period. That one was on the power play and gave the Devils a 2-0 lead at the time. That was one of five power play shots. The Devils also had four shorthanded shots. The Devils were 1-for-2 on the power play. As for the Rangers, they were 0-for-5 as the Devils’ penalty kill was on point. New York ended up with seven shots on the man advantage but could not get one by Cory.

The Devils were winless in five while the Rangers were winless in six. Something had to give. New Jersey had also been shut out in two of their last three.

But a shut out was made impossible at 16:26 when Damon Severson blasted a shot by Lundqvist after he took a pass from Kenny Agostino in the first period. Agostino had curled back along the half wall to buy time and dished to Severson at the point. That made it 1-0 Devils. Michael McLeod had the secondary assist (his first NHL point – congratulations to him).

The Devils had a rare 4-on-3 power play for 24 seconds when the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich was called for tripping Egor Yakovlev and Yakovlev was nabbed for embellishment, which made it a 4-on-4 at 17:37 of the first. New York’s Libor Hajek then took a high-sticking penalty on Agostino to put the Devils up 4-on-3 at 19:08. The first two penalties expired, making it a regular 5-on-4 power play for the Devils and that is when Coleman scored his goal to make it 2-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist on Coleman’s goal, Butcher had the primary.

But from there, the Devils would almost run out of gas, giving up four straight to the Rangers. It began late in the second frame, at 18:22, when Ryan Strome redirected a Kevin Shattenkirk shot by Cory that just trickled through his legs. Vladislav Namestnikov had the secondary assist as the game was now 2-1 Devils.

The Rangers’ second goal came just 1:29 into the third period off the stick of Hajek (his first NHL goal) and occurred when the Devils were unable to clear the puck from their own zone. Hajek then took a pass from Chris Kreider and snapped a wrist shot over Schneider’s shoulder to make it all even. Strome had the other assist on the goal.

New York took the lead for the first time at the 13:25 mark of the third when Namestnikov set up shop at the top of the near faceoff circle and scored on a one-timer off of a pass from Mika Zibanejad. Brady Skjei had the secondary.

Strome, who would go on to be named the game’s first star with three points, scored into an empty net when Schneider was pulled with about 1:15 left in regulation. Strome got assists from Namestnikov (who also had three points on the night) and emerging Devil killer Zibanejad. That made it 4-2 Rangers, which was our final.

The Devils had been 20-0-3 this season alone when leading after two periods according to Steve Cangialosi. That streak was now ended as the Rangers came away with the victory.

The Devils were out shot 41 to 24, as Cory, again, played extremely well. The Rangers won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs but the Devils out hit them 39 to 26. The Devils also led in blocked shots with 12 to New York’s nine. The Rangers also had 15 giveaways to the Devils’ 11.

Severson led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 23:45 (including 1:48 on the power play and 5:31 on the PK) while Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 21:12 (1:25 on the PP and 3:28 on the PK). Shots were led by Palmieri, Tangradi, Blake Pietila, and Severson who all had three. Hits were led by Agostino with five. Blocks by Zajac, Tangradi, Steven Santini and Yakovlev with two each. Takeaways were led by Nick Lappin, Coleman, Tangradi, Joey Anderson and Connor Carrick with one apiece.

Gignac’s stat line read: a minus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal, one block and two giveaways all in 9:04 of TOI in his debut game.

Next up, the real meat of the Devils’ road trip begins. They are off to Calgary to take on the Flames on Tuesday. Puck drop for that game is 9 PM Eastern and we will have a write-up for you then. Until then, please leave a comment if you like and have a great rest of the weekend.

Devils Double Up Penguins 6-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Dropped Again in Columbus

Following last night’s epic pond hockey game at Prudential Center, the Devils had to travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Let’s just say tonight was a little more disappointing as the Devils fell 4-1.

Columbus scored two goals in the opening 2:28 and that was all they needed as they moved into a tie with Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Congratulations also to Coach John Hynes who moved past Doug Carpenter for second place in games coached for the Devils, behind only the great Jacques Lemaire, in the Chicago game.

Some roster moves tonight as Miles Wood, after leaving last night’s game with a lower body injury, was not dressed tonight. He joined Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev in the press box. Wood is listed as day-to-day. Blake Pietila slotted back in up front in Wood’s place.

Taylor Hall remains out, missing his 11th straight tonight. In his absence, Kyle Palmieri took over the team scoring lead last night. And speaking of Palmieri, he was moved to a line with Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman as Hynes decided he wanted to get some firepower together in Palmieri and the red hot Coleman.

In goal, the Devils (on the second half of a back-to-back) went to Keith Kinkaid. He stopped 30 of 34 for a .882 save percentage. Facing him was Joonas Korpisalo, the Jackets’ backup. Columbus has had some drama in nets lately. Sergei Bobrovsky was recently suspended by the team for going straight to the showers and not to the bench after being pulled in a game last week. He missed one game, sat the next and came back to defeat the Rangers in their last game. Korpisalo made 29 saves on 30 shots against for a .967 save percentage.

The Blue Jackets only needed 45 seconds from the opening faceoff to get on the board. Cam Atkinson scored as Pierre-Luc Dubois intercepted a hard around by Damon Severson and shot. Atkinson was able to redirect the shot by Kinkaid to put the Jackets up 1-0.

Boone Jenner then scored the game winner at the 2:28 mark when he got open in the slot after Josh Anderson won the faceoff in the Devils zone. Jenner took the pass and found the back of the net to make it 2-0 Blue Jackets.

A similar play led to the third Columbus goal when the Jackets won a draw and David Savard was able to find Artemi Panarin cutting backdoor as Savard made the pass out of the corner to him and he scored. Atkinson had the secondary assist on the goal that came at 17:20 of the first. Atkinson would be named the game’s second star with Dubois the first and Korpisalo the third.

And speaking of Dubois, one of the reasons he was named the first star was because of his power play goal from the top of the near faceoff circle that beat Kinkaid short side. That goal came 1:45 into the second period and Zach Werenski and Panarin had the assists. This was a rough one as the Devils were killing off a double minor to Severson. He took a holding penalty, argued it and was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor as well. Severson was benched by Hynes following that penalty for the majority of the second period.

Special teams-wise, the Blue Jackets were 1-for-3 on the power play with two shots on goal and two shorthanded shots. New Jersey was 0-for-2 with six power play shots. The chances were there, the Devils just could not convert.

A tough break for the Devils came at the 14:13 mark of the second when Palmieri had seemingly scored and the goal was waved off due to a penalty for goalie interference.

The Devils would finally get on the board late in the second period when Blake Coleman extended his point streak to five games. The goal came at 18:24 and occurred when Coleman won the offensive zone faceoff and the puck got back to Mirco Mueller. Mueller took a shot that was tipped by Korpisalo by Coleman in front. Ben Lovejoy had the secondary assist on the goal which made it 4-1 Jackets.

And that was our final as the Devils could muster no more.

The Blue Jackets out shot the Devils 34 to 30 and, although those Columbus goals that were scored off of faceoff wins, New Jersey did dominate in the circle winning 58-percent of the draws. The Jackets out hit the Devils, 19-17, blocked more shots at 19-9, but the Devils had less giveaways at six to Columbus’ five.

Individual stats saw Will Butcher lead the team in time on ice (23:52 total, 2:41 on the power play) while Zajac led all forwards with 18:42 (2:46 on the power play and 1:34 shorthanded). Drew Stafford and Palmieri led in shots on goal with four each, Brian Boyle led in hits with three, Severson led in blocks with two and Zajac led in takeaways with two as well.

Next up, the Devils will return to the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday to take on the Islanders. The Isles are playing a select few (20 I believe) games at their old barn this season and this game is one of them. We will see you then with coverage right here. In the meantime, as always, feedback in the comments section is always appreciated.

Offense Explodes, Devils Outlast Blackhawks 8-5

Whew! That was quite a little hockey game there. The Chicago Blackhawks came to town and the Devils gathered two points as the offenses exploded for a combined 13 goals. The Devils came away with the 8-5 victory on home ice to notch their first back-to-back wins of the 2019 calendar year.

Before we begin, congratulations to former Devils broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick who was announced as a new member of the National Sports Media Hall of Fame as per an article on the Devils’ website. In addition, Devils radio play-by-play guy Matt Loughlin has been named the New Jersey Sportscaster of the Year by the same organization. Congratulations to both men for these well-deserved honors.

Roster-wise for the Devils, Stefan Noesen was placed on injured reserve (lower body) retoractive to January 12. Egor Yakovlev was recalled from Binghamton to take his place on the roster and was a healthy scratch today along with Steven Santini and Blake Pietila (who was sitting in favor of Kevin Rooney, who played primarily on a line with Brian Boyle and Drew Stafford).

The goaltending matchup saw New Jersey go back to Mackenzie Blackwood who stopped 27 shots of 32 thrown at him by Chicago for an .844 save percentage. The Blackhawks started with Cam Ward who made 19 saves on 25 shots for a .760 save percentage. Ward was pulled in the third period in favor of Collin Delia who went 14-for-15 for a .933 save percentage.

Now to the goals. The Devils kicked off this deal when Blake Coleman scored unassisted at 13:50 of the first period. It came after Coleman was done serving a hooking penalty and came out of the box on a breakaway. He went backhand-forehand using a head fake and beat Ward to make it 1-0 Devils. This extended his point scoring streak to four games.

If you are a hockey coach preaching good, solid defensive hockey, you might want to look away from the second period. If you are a fan who likes offense, this one was for you. Your mileage may vary, of course. Eight total goals scored in the second combined between the two teams. A graphic on the MSG+ telecast mentioned that this was the first time since April 6, 1996 that the Devils and their opponents combined for eight in a single period. That one came in the second period of a game versus the Hartford Whalers that the Devils eventually won 6-3.

The period kicked off at 3:07 when Patrick Kane scored his first of two for the Hawks to tie it up at one on the power play. Ben Lovejoy had gone off for tripping at 2:36. The goal was off a nice give-and-go from Jonathan Toews and Kane snapped it by Blackwood. Dylan Strome had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils then went on to scored five unanswered beginning with Kyle Palmieri giving New Jersey back the lead at 5:16. He scored on a partial breakaway on a delayed hooking call on the Blackhawks. He put one just underneath the crossbar. Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier had the assists on the goal.

Palmieri would double up at the 8:27 mark when he scored his 22nd of the year from Will Butcher and Travis Zajac. Palmieri beat Ward through the legs on the power play – Chicago’s Brendan Perlini was caught for high-sticking at 8:08 – on a goal that was initially awarded to Boyle as he had seemingly touched it just before it went in. It actually looked like it went in off of the Blackhawks’ d-man’s skate, though. That goal made it 3-1 New Jersey.

Zajac made it 4-1 at 10:07 when Ward made a stop on a cutting Miles Wood but the puck just stayed in the crease and Zajac tapped it in. Coleman had the other assist on the goal. Palmieri, with two goals was the game’s first star while Coleman (two goals and an assist) was the second star and Kane (two goals, two assists) was the third star of the night.

The next goal came off of the stick of Sami Vatanen, who scored on the power play at 14:58 of the second from Jesper Bratt and Damon Severson. Toews was in the box for holding Zajac’s stick at 13:47. On this goal, Vatanen unleashed a rocket of a slapshot one-timer by Ward’s glove to make it 5-1 Devils. The Devils’ power play was 2-for-2 with three shots on net. They also had two shorthanded shots. The special teams were a battle of the Hawks’ second-ranked power play versus the Devils’ first-ranked penalty kill (both since the Christmas break). The Blackhawks were 1-for-4 on the power play, only striking once on two shots. The Devils PK won that battle.

While Palmieri was busy scoring goals 21 and 22 of the season, Kevin Rooney notched his first career NHL goal. He scored at 17:58 of the second from Stafford and Brett Seney. The Devils’ sixth goal and fifth unanswered came when Seney alley-ooped the puck to Stafford. Stafford cut in on Ward and shot and Rooney cleaned up on the rebound. Congrats to Kevin Rooney on his first career NHL goal.

The Hawks would finally stop the onslaught when Kane got his second of the game, ripping a one-timer by Blackwood from an odd angle to make it 6-2. Henri Jokiharju had the lone assist on that one at 18:19. Brent Seabrook then scored at 19:01 from Kane to make it 6-3. Kane had intercepted Blackwood’s clearing attempt in the corner and passed to Seabrook, who buried it to cut the Devils’ lead to three.

That was one hell of a period and either some of the most exciting or sloppy hockey you have seen, depending, again, on your point of view. But the teams were not done.

Seney kicked off the third by scoring from Bratt and Pavel Zacha at 8:10 to make it 7-3 Devils. This one was on Delia as he had come in at the very start of the third period. Seney took a centering pass from Bratt and tipped it by Delia in the slot.

Just 37 seconds later, Chicago’s Dominik Kahun snapped a pass from Carl Dahlstrom from the far faceoff circle to make it 7-4 New Jersey.

Things remained interesting when Brandon Saad scored a goal at 18:28 that went in and out of the net so fast, you could only tell via the overhead replay that it actually had entered the net. That goal, with an assist to Kane, made it 7-5 Devils. The Blackhawks pulled Delia after winning the ensuing faceoff with about a minute and a half remaining in regulation for the sixth attacker. Blake Coleman would cap the night off by scoring into the vacated cage with 34 seconds left in the game to ice it at 8-5.

According to MSG+, the last time the Devils had collected eight goals in a game came in December of 2008 – just about ten years ago – against the Rangers.

One note on that third period as Wood was injured and left the ice gingerly after taking a hit where his leg was wrenched. He would skate two more shifts, but eventually left the game and would not return. He will, however, make the trip to Columbus tomorrow as per John Hynes in his post game presser. Because of this, he ended up missing the fracas late in the period that did not lead to any penalties, but did see Ben Lovejoy drop the gloves to fight Drake Caggiula.

So when all was said and done, 13 Devils had registered at least a point. Six had multiple points on the night. The Devils out shot the Blackhawks 41-32 but only won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They also out hit the Hawks (21-10) and blocked more shots (15-7). They did register more giveaways, however at eight to Chicago’s six.

Individually, Andy Greene led all Devils skaters in ice time with 23:24 total (including 5:32 on the PK) and Travis Zajac led all forwards with 20:14 (19 seconds on the power play and 5:08 shorthanded) as the Devils really leaned on the veterans in this game. Palmieri led in shots on goal with six, three players (Boyle, Nico Hischier and Rooney) led in hits with three, Greene led in blocked shots with seven and Wood led in takeaways with two.

Next up the Devils travel tomorrow to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets in the second half of a back-to-back. We will have coverage right here for you. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below as they are always appreciated.

Devils Fight Back But Lose to Leafs, 4-2

The Devils have had a hard time of it this year with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After two blow outs earlier this season, they will be glad to put the Leafs in their rearview mirror as of last night. They lost 4-2 at Prudential Center.

It was 80s Night at The Rock, as the team was wearing its heritage white, green and red jerseys and the music and in-arena graphics were all throwbacks to the 1980s. The jumbotron was even done up to resemble the center-hung scoreboard at the Meadowlands in a nice touch.

The Devils still have some missing pieces, but they are getting better. Mackenzie Blackwood and Marcus Johansson skated this morning and the team is still without Taylor Hall. But without Hall and Johansson, the Leafs just have too much firepower to deal with. Mirco Mueller, Stefan Noesen and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches for the Devils tonight.

Without Blackwood, Cam Johnson once again backed up Keith Kinkaid, who got the nod between the pipes for the Devils. Kinkaid stopped 39 of an avalanche of 42 shots on goal. The Maple Leafs finished with 43 shots thanks to an empty net goal late in the game by Mitch Marner. Facing him was Michael Hutchinson who made 27 saves on 29 Devils shots.

The Devils were basically assaulted all night by John Tavares. The former Islander scored two goals and added an assist on the empty netter for three points in the game. He was named the game’s first star. Blake Coleman would be the second and Toronto’s Zach Hyman the third.

The Devils power play remained anemic while the penalty killers knocked off their only challenge of the night. The Devils were 0-for-2 on the PP with five shots while Toronto was 0-for-1 with one shot. The Leafs also had four shorthanded shots, which just shows how dangerous their offense is in any given situation.

Ron Hainsey got the goal scoring started off 4:30 into the game. He took a bank pass off of the boards by Hyman and one-timed it by Kinkaid. Connor Brown had the secondary assist on the goal that gave the Leafs the 1-0 lead.

A little less than three minutes later, at 7:21 of the first period, Tavares struck for the first time of two when he scored from Jake Gardiner. That made it 2-0 Leafs. Tavares hit the Devils one final time when he scored with six seconds remaining in the first from Morgan Rielly and Marner on what was just a tic-tac-toe surgical play to make it 3-0. Things looked really bleak for the Devils heading into the second period.

One highlight of the first for New Jersey was Kinkaid coming out of his goal cage and cutting off a Leafs breakaway. His adventure led to him falling down and nearly giving up a goal in an empty net, but the Devils recovered and no harm, no foul on that I guess.

The Devils made a game of it in the second period. It began at the 16:07 mark when Blake Coleman backhanded his own rebound in after Miles Wood went point-to-point with Andy Greene and Greene fired a shot on Hutchinson. Coleman tipped the initial shot on goal and then leapt on the rebound to make it 3-1 Toronto.

And the Devils kept on coming. Twenty-six seconds after Coleman’s goal, Brian Boyle found the back of the net when Blake Pietila led him in on the rush and dropped the puck for him just inside the Leafs’ blue line. Boyle wristed a shot by Hutchinson to make it 3-2 and the Devils, in a flurry of action, were right back in the game.

It would remain that way until with a minute remaining in regulation, the Devils pulled Kinkaid and Marner scored his empty netter (although Kyle Palmieri made a valiant back checking effort). That goal came with 22 seconds left in the game and Marner got an assist from Tavares.

It was just one of those games for the Devils. They did not get blown out, but they were beaten early and often and just could not recover. Most of that was the John Tavares show, as he just victimized the Devils. In the end, Toronto finished with 43 shots to the Devils’ 29. The Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and out hit the Leafs 15 to 9. They also edged Toronto in blocked shots 9-8. But the Leafs had less giveaways at three to the Devils’ nine.

Damon Severson led the Devils in ice time with 22:22 (2:01 on the power play and eight seconds on the PK) while Travis Zajac led the forwards with 19:52 (2:19 on the PP and 1:05 on the PK). Shots on goal were co-led by Palmieri and Wood with four each, hits were led by Steven Santini with three, blocks by Sami Vatanen with three and takeaways by Boyle, Zajac, Coleman, Pietila, Greene and Severson with one each.

Next up, Saturday as the Devils take on the rival Flyers in Newark. That is a 1 PM puck drop and we will have the coverage here for you. In the meantime if you have any comments, please feel free to leave a comment below. It is always appreciated.

Bad Second Period Dooms Devils to Loss in Buffalo

The Devils jumped out to an early one goal lead but let a bad second period where the Sabres scored five unanswered to hurt them and lead to a 5-1 loss at KeyBank Center.

Some roster moves to get to before we begin. John Quenneville was sent back to Binghamton yesterday and defenseman Egor Yakovlev was recalled. He was a healthy scratch tonight along with Mirco Mueller. Mackenzie Blackwood was also a scratch but he is still recovering from his lower body injury suffered earlier in the road trip. Cam Johnson was the backup again tonight as Blackwood “is progressing nicely” according to the team and MSG’s Erika Wachter.

Speaking of injury, Buffalo would be without Jack Eichel, who is also hurt. This would seem to favor the Devils, but the rest of the Sabres’ roster stepped up enough to fill that offensive void.

Between the pipes, Keith Kinkdaid went for the Devils. He was a career 3-0-0 against Buffalo in his career coming into tonight. He stopped 28 of the 33 shots the Sabres threw his way. For Buffalo, Carter Hutton started as he stopped 20 of the 21 shots the Devils fired in on him.

Special teams-wise, New Jersey continued its dominant penalty kill, but struggled on the power play once again. The Devils had their chances, going 0-for-4 with three shots (plus a shorthanded shot to go with things). The Sabres were kept 0-for-1 with two shots on the power play and two shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on.

Blake Coleman got the Devils up by one just 1:28 into the game. He scored from Miles Wood and Travis Zajac. It was a puck luck bounce as Wood just threw the puck to the net and it bounced in off of Coleman’s skate. The assist to Zajac moves him up the Devils’ all-time leading scoring list to fourth all-time, past Scott Gomez and behind only Patrik Elias, John MacLean and Kirk Muller.

A weird play with 13:38 to go in the first as Steven Santini blocked a shot at the side of the Devils’ net and the puck bounced to Nico Hischier, who was off to the races on a clear cut breakaway from the Devils’ blue line. The only problem was that for some reason the referee had blown the whistle to stop play. The best MSG analyst Ken Daneyko could come up with was that the official thought that the puck was in Kinkaid’s glove as he lost sight of it. Anyway, this was a tough break for the Devils and kept the score at 1-0.

The Devils kept that lead until 1:39 into the second period when Jeff Skinner scored his 29th of the season from Tage Thompson. Skinner scored off the rush to tie things, sniping one under the crossbar and down. That made it 1-1, but things were about to go downhill for the Devils very fast.

At the 4:14 mark, CJ Smith scored his first career NHL goal when his shot trickled by Kinkaid and Sami Vatanen tried to clear it from the goal line to no avail. The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice of good goal stood, it was 2-1 Sabres. Johan Larsson and Kyle Okposo had the assists on the goal.

At 10:42, Casey Mittelstadt chipped a second-chance effort over Kinkaid’s right pad to make it 3-1. Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Dahlin had the assists there.

At 16:00, Jake McCabe scored shorthanded while Skinner was in the box for slashing Brett Seney. He scored on a 2-on-1 as McCabe blocked a shot at the Sabres’ blue line then jumped up with Evan Rodrigues on the rush. Rodrigues sold a shot and passed to McCabe who buried it behind Kinkaid to make it 4-1. Vladimir Sobotka had the other assist on this goal.

The Sabres capped off this onslaught 1:45 later when Lawrence Pilut shot through traffic to beat Kinkaid, who was without a stick. This was Pilut’s first career NHL goal as well. Conor Sheary and Rasmus Ristolainen had the assists on that one. It was now 5-1 Sabres and that would be our final.

According to MSG’s Steve Cangiolosi, this was the first time since November of last season that the Devils gave up five in a single period. They did that last year at Winnipeg. Former-Sabre Drew Stafford seemingly scored on his former team with 12:52 to go in the third. The light never went on and his shot seemed to just tickle the twine under the crossbar, but Toronto had its look and said no goal. Upon replay, the puck apparently hit the crossbar and came out. It was just one of those nights for the Devils.

Buffalo got their lone power play when Stefan Noesen and Rodrigues got into it midway through the third. Noesen drew a double minor for roughing while Rodrigues only got two minutes. The Devils killed that off and remain good on the PK. Both Pilut and Wood got ten minute misconduct penalties late in the third.

Stats-wise, the Devils were outshot 33-21, won 46-percent of the draws in the game, were out hit 13-11. They did block more shots than Buffalo at 19 to the Sabres’ 11 and had less giveaways at three to the Sabres’ six.

Individually, Zajac led all Devils skaters with 20:51 of ice time (4:20 on the PP and 1:11 shorthanded). Vatanen led the defensemen with 20:32 (2:40 PP/1:44 PK). Shots on goal were led by Damon Severson with four, hits by Blake Pietila with three, blocks by Coleman with three and takeaways by Brett Seney with one.

So the Devils need to shake this game off and come out angry for their next game. They return home on Thursday to faceoff with the Toronto Maple Leafs at The Rock. The Leafs are one of the best in the league and hopefully the Devils will play with some urgency on Thursday. I will be attending this game so my post will be up a little bit later. If you would like to comment on this game, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the section below. They are always appreciated.

Devils Get First Shootout Win of Season, Down Arizona 3-2

The Devils said that they wanted to try to take at least six of a possible eight points on this road trip. They dropped two in Dallas and were looking to rectify that in Arizona. And they would, winning 3-2 in a shootout to knock off the Coyotes in Glendale.

It was the battle of the penalty kills, as the Coyotes are the number one ranked PK in the NHL and the Devils number two. And sure enough, neither team was able to gain much traction on the power play. The Devils went 0-for-3 with a single shot (they did have three shorthanded shots, however). The Devils kept Arizona 0-for-5 on the PP with six shots on goal. The Coyotes had a 5-on-3 to kill off early in the game and then a four minute high sticking double minor on Brian Boyle late in the game so that skewed things a little bit.

The Devils went with their same lineup as the last few games with the lone exception of Blake Pietila slotting in up front. John Quenneville (who was just named an AHL All-Star along with Mackenzie Blackwood) slotted out at forward. Defensemen Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the other healthy scratches.

In goal, the Devils announced that Blackwood would get the nod tonight, making his fifth straight start and Keith Kinkaid would start on Sunday in Vegas. A monkey wrench in those plans, however, saw Blackwood go down with a lower body injury early in the game. He ended up playing 15:59, stopping all eight shots he saw. Kinkaid then came on in relief and stopped 15 of the 17 shots fired at him. For the Yotes, Darcy Kuemper turned aside 33 of the 35 Devils shots he saw.

Some milestones for the night saw Jesper Bratt playing in his 100th NHL game, Drew Stafford in his 800th NHL game and it was also Nico Hischier’s 20th birthday. Stafford and Hischier would play crucial roles in this game.

Hischier’s would be scoring the opening goal of the game and it was a weird one. Kyle Palmieri stripped the Arizona skater of the puck in the neutral zone and went in on a 2-on-1 with Hischier. Nico took the puck and fired on net, only for Arizona’s Clayton Keller to crash into the net, dislodging it from its moorings just as the puck was crossing the goal line. The play was reviewed by Toronto with the officials getting together to watch on their tablet. Amazingly a goal was awarded to the Devils as the puck “would have entered the net had it not been deliberately knocked off its moorings.” By the rule, the referee can award a goal at his discretion and it was. The goal came at 1:05 into the game and Palmieri had the lone assist. The birthday boy had scored and the Devils were ahead.

But then came the injury to Blackwood and a relatively cold Kinkaid entered the game. At 16:44 of the first, Pavel Zacha made a costly turnover into the slot, giving the puck up to Conor Garland who scored unassisted, beating Kinkaid to make it 1-1.

The Devils nearly took another lead early in the second period when Pietila seemingly had scored. But upon review, the puck crossed the line after the referee had blown his whistle and play was dead. One break had gone the Devils’ way, but this one would not. It was still 1-1.

The Coyotes would take the lead at the 9:05 mark of the second when Christian Fischer skated in on a 2-on-1 and elected to shoot. He beat Kinkaid between the arm and the body as it trickled through for a 2-1 lead for Arizona. The goal was unassisted. The Devils were now behind the eight-ball if they wanted to salvage something from this game.

Enter Blake Coleman. A good Devils forecheck led to Travis Zajac being able to make a nifty backhand pass to Coleman who stuffed the puck five hole on Kuemper to tie it up at two. Miles Wood had the other assist on the goal.

And from there, the two teams settled in. New Jersey had a Hischier shorthanded breakaway on the four minute double minor PK late in the third and a Zacha shorthanded chance on a Steven Santini delay of game penalty a few minutes later.

This would lead to overtime and two critical plays one early for the Devils and one late for the Coyotes. The early one was Jesper Bratt clearing a sure Arizona goal as he swept it from the goal line after it got by Kinkaid. Kuemper then made three remarkable saves for the Coyotes, including two in succession on Zajac later on in the OT period. The buzzer went on OT and we were on to a shootout.

New Jersey had yet to win a shootout this season, but that was about to change. Arizona went first and Alex Galchenyuk missed the net. Kyle Palmieri scored on his chance to finish out the first round. Kinkaid then made a crucial save on Nick Cousins and Drew Stafford got the game winner in the second round to end it for the Devils.

They had fought back and gotten the two points in the desert. The Devils out shot the Coyotes 35 to 25 and won 54-percent of the game’s draws. The Yotes out hit the Devils 39 to 27, but the Devils had more blocked shots at 17-11 and less giveaways at 12 to Arizona’s 13.

Individually, Andy Greene led in minutes with 24:17 (including 7:17 on the penalty kill) and Zajac led the forwards with 20:40 (2:51 on the power play and 3:15 shorthanded). Coleman led in shots on goal with a career high eight while fellow Texan Stefan Noesen led the hit parade with four. Blocked shots were led by Sami Vatanen with four and Zajac, Coleman and Palmieri each had a takeaway to lead in that category.

Next up, the Devils travel to Vegas to take on the Golden Knights while remaining in the desert. That game is on Sunday at 4 PM eastern and we, of course, will have coverage for you right here.

Blackwood Earns First NHL Victory as Devils Roll Over Boston, 5-2

For the first time this season (in the final road game of the 2018 calendar year, no less), someone not named Keith Kinkaid earned a win for the Devils between the pipes. That man was Mackenzie Blackwood and he had a pretty good night. The Devils beat the Bruins up in Boston 5-2.

It has not been easy for the Devils at TD Garden the last few years. The Bruins were 12-1-0 in the last 13 games between the two teams up in Beantown according to a graphic on the MSG+ pregame show, but they earned the victory tonight.

Things did not look too good for New Jersey with the announcement prior to the game that Taylor Hall would not be playing tonight. The team practiced in Newark this morning before flying up to Boston and Hall had a re-occurrence of the lower body injury that kept him out of some games a few weeks ago prior to the Christmas break. He is now day-to-day according to Erika Wachter.

Jesper Bratt moved into Hall’s spot on the top line with Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier while Stefan Noesen was back in the lineup to take his place on the roster. Noesen had not played since December 9 at Anaheim. Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches. One other transaction made was John Quenneville. He was actually sent back down to Binghamton just prior to the Christmas break and was recalled yesterday. For the B’s, Zdeno Chara was making his first appearance since November 14, as he had been out with a knee injury.

One Devil really excited for this game was Brett Seney. The former Merrimack College player had some 30 friends and family at the game. He was playing in his first game at TD Garden, something he did not get to do even in college.

The goalie matchup saw Jaroslav Halak go for the B’s as the former Islander made 28 saves on 32 Devils shots against. The Devils finished the game with 33 shots, since they added an empty netter later on in the game. As mentioned, Mackenzie Blackwood was the star of the show for the Devils. He stopped 40 of 42 Bruins shots and was named the game’s first star. As Ken Daneyko pointed out on the MSG+ post game show, it is a bit auspicious that a Devils goalie, wearing number 29 should get his first win against the Bruins. Martin Brodeur got his first win in the NHL against the Bruins back in 1992 wearing… number 29!

The Devils got the scoring started early as Damon Severson became the sixth defenseman in team history to score 30 seconds or less into a game. He did it 25 seconds in off assists from Andy Greene and Travis Zajac. It happened when Zajac got the puck to a pinching Greene. He then found Severson cutting backdoor on the Bruins’ goal and scored to make it 1-0 Devils.

The Devils would make it 2-0 before the first intermission when Palmieri scored on the power play at 15:25 from Will Butcher and Brian Boyle. It was set up when former Devil John Moore was called for tripping. On the man advantage, Palmieri took a shot in close that Halak made the initial save on. The puck then hit Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo and rolled up and over Halak, who was down in the butterfly, and in. The Devils now had a 2-0 lead to take into the first break.

On the power play, the Devils were 2-for-4 on the night with three shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on net. The Bruins were held 0-for-2 with three shots on the power play. They also accumulated three shorthanded shots.

Boston got on the board at the 15:07 mark of the second period when Chris Wagner collided with a Devils defender and the Devil went down. This left Wagner all alone to cut in behind the play and take a nice pass from Moore to score into an empty net. Danton Heinen had the secondary assist. The Bruins had cut the Devils’ lead in half. Boston out shot the Devils 19-9 in that second period but Blackwood was fantastic in net to keep the Devils on top.

In the third, at 4:15, Blake Coleman blocked a Torey Krug shot at the point in the Devils’ zone and sped off to collect the loose puck through the neutral zone. He grabbed it, went forehand, backhand on Halak and turned the goalie inside out to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. That goal was unassisted.

At the 7:51 mark, Miles Wood drove to the Boston net, knocking it off its moorings. He was tripped up on the play by Kevan Miller (for which he received a penalty on the play), and the puck ended up in the net. The call on the ice was no goal and that stood under review by Toronto. It turned out the puck had slipped under the side of the goal cage as it was jarred up as Wood bumped into it.

The Devils would get one for real at the 12:43 mark when Nico Hischier scored from Wood and Noesen. That occurred when Noesen won a puck battle along the boards in the Devils’ zone. Wood took it and he and Nico were off with numbers. Wood one-handed it to HIschier, who was cutting through the slot. Nico then was all alone on Halak and roofed it over the prone goalie to give the Devils a commanding 4-1 lead.

Patrice Bergeron would cut the Devils’ lead to two when a Jake DeBrusk shot was redirected by Blackwood off of Bergeron’s shin pad and into the net.

A strange ending to the game came when Boston’s David Backes was called for an illegal check to the head of Coleman at 18:00. This would put the Devils on the man advantage for the remainder of the game. The Bruins pulled Halak to even it up but who else but Coleman scored into an empty net to ice the game for the Devils. His goal was officially a power play goal and gave us our final of 5-2. Halak had been 8-0 at TD Garden so far this season, but that was the end of that streak. The Devils won.

The Devils were out shot 42-33 and won just 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They did out hit the Bruins 28-20 and had more blocked shots (19-4) and less giveaways at 11 for the Devils to the B’s 17.

Individually, Andy Greene led the team in ice time (21:48 – 37 seconds on the PP and 1:41 on the PK). Zajac led the forwards with 19:41 (3:35 on the PP and 2:30 on the PK). Shots were led by Pavel Zacha with seven, hits by Brian Boyle and Coleman with four each, blocks by Hischier with three and takeaways by Zajac with four.

Next up, the Devils will return home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. We will have that coverage for you here and will also have continuing coverage of the World Juniors later tonight.