Devils Lose Heartbreaker in OT to Jets

The Devils have lost a good amount of overtime games this season, but somehow this one hurt more than any of the others. They fought valiantly but ended up losing in the extra period 4-3 at Prudential Center. The Devils fought back from a 3-1 deficit late in the third period to force OT but were not able to get the two full points.

The Devils were happy to see November go as they had only picked up 11 points in the month and just had a dreadful time of things. In addition to that, they came into this game having scored only one power play goal in 23 chances over their last ten games. That would reverse itself tonight, but they will still be glad to see the calendar turn.

Will Butcher was a healthy scratch for the first time this season as the coaching staff decided that it would be a good for him to see things from up top for a game, just to refresh his outlook. He joined Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini as scratches while Drew Stafford slotted in up front and Egor Yakovlev was in on the blue line. Mikey McLeod was sent back to Binghamton after making his NHL debut last night in Washington.

One guy scratched for the other team was forward Brendan Lemieux. He is the son of 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Devils, Claude Lemieux. Claude was on hand to do commentary on MSG+ with Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko – a nice treat for fans watching at home.

One guy that the Devils would have to deal who was in the lineup for Winnipeg was Patrik Laine. Laine was named the NHL’s first star for the month of November. He had a five-goal game against St. Louis on November 24 and would be someone the Devils would need to contain. The Devils would not need to worry about big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who missed his second straight game with a concussion.

In nets, Keith Kinkaid played both games of the back-to-back for the first time this season. He would be really good, especially in the OT period as he stopped 34 of the Jets’ 38 shots. Across the rink was Laurent Brossoit, the Jets backup who made 36 saves on 39 Devils shots against. He was starting the first of a back-to-back for the Jets, who play tomorrow against the Rangers at the Garden.

This game would finish up the season series between the two teams, the first such series conclusion for the Devils. Pregame saw the Devils hold a tribute and moment of silence for former President George HW Bush, who passed away yesterday, just prior to the national anthems.

One other note before we get to the game details. Last night, Taylor Hall was credited with an assist on Nico Hischier’s goal. The assist was given after the game by the NHL, but it was the 500th point of his NHL career. Congratulations to Hall on hitting that milestone.

The Devils would strike first on the big board, as they really spent a lot of time in the offensive zone during the opening period. Marcus Johansson hit the back of the net from Jesper Bratt at the 6:45 mark of the first period. It occurred when Bratt rushed up the right wing boards following a big save at the other end by Kinkaid and dropped to Johansson just inside the Winnipeg blue line. Johansson shot and had his initial output blocked in front by a Jets defender. He grabbed the puck right back and buried it behind Brossoit stick side. That gave the Devils the quick 1-0 lead.

It would stay that way for almost a full period. At the 4:25 mark of the second, Mark Scheifele scored his first of two on the night when, just like the Devils’ first goal, Brossoit made a big save for the Jets at one end and Blake Wheeler grabbed it and fed Scheifele at the other. He scored and the game was tied up at one.

The third period began with Winnipeg hitting a crossbar and a post all within about five minutes of each other. Things were beginning to turn in the game and that would soon show up on the scoreboard.

It began when Josh Morrissey took a great centering pass in the slot from Jack Roslovic and scored. Mathieu Perreault had the secondary assist on the goal that gave Winnipeg the 2-1 lead at 10:32 of the third.

Things were looking pretty dim for the Devils when, at 13:21 of the third, Andrew Copp scored on a wraparound off assists from Mason Appleton (playing his first NHL game and getting his first NHL point) and Adam Lowry. The Devils were now in a 3-1 hole. This came just moments after a non penalty call on the Jets after Kyle Palmieri was taken down in the Jets zone.

But the Devils have fight and pride in them. The comeback began at 13:57 when Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot was called for holding Brian Boyle. The Devils were now on the power play and were about to see dividends on it.

At 15:41, near the end of the power play, Bratt found the back of the net from Damon Severson and Pavel Zacha. It came when Severson got the puck at the far point from Zacha and went point-to-point with Bratt. Bratt fired through a Brian Boyle screen in front and beat Brossoit cleanly to make it 3-2 Winnipeg.

On special teams, the Devils finished 1-for-3 on the power play with three shots. The Jets were 0-for-1 with no power play shots, but two shorthanded shots on goal. For Zacha, the assist was an especially sweet point, as he was originally credited with an assist on Johansson’s goal, but had it taken away by the official scorers.

This goal, which got the Devils within one, would set up a dramatic finish to regulation. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, New Jersey pulled Kinkaid for the extra skater. The Devils would set up in the Jets’ zone and collapse down, forcing a mad scramble in front of the Winnipeg net. Finally, after hacking through a maze of legs and sticks, Taylor Hall put home the game tying goal from Nico Hischier and Palmieri. Jets coach Paul Maurice would use his coach’s challenge to review for goaltender interference, but replays showed nothing, meaning the call on the ice stood: good goal. We were now tied at three and had another overtime looming.

And this was a good one. It began with Hall and Hischier teaming up on a 2-on-0 with Hall not being able to put home the pass from Nico. Keith Kinkaid then became the near hero when he stopped Laine on a partial breakaway, tried to get the puck back in play quickly and gave it away to Kyle Connor, only to stymie him with a glove save as well.

Finally, with under a minute to go in the OT, Hischier stripped a puck off the stick of a Jets player, only to have it stolen again by Mark Scheifele, who walked in on Kinkaid and scored unassisted for the game winner. Hischier had just had a 2-on-1 at the other end and elected to pass instead of taking the shot in a missed opportunity for the Devils.

It was an exciting game that came down to the wire and the Devils got a point out of it, but it left Devils fans feeling empty because they really fought back to earn this one.

Statistically, the Devils only won 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also being out hit 26 to 21. They had less blocked shots than Winnipeg, 11 to the Jets’ 14 and had more giveaways at nine to one clip.

Once again, Sami Vatanen was the workhorse with 27:19 of ice time (including 4:03 on the power play – he took New Jersey’s only penalty and, thus, did not get any PK time). Hall led all forwards with 21:42 (4:29 of PP time) and Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with six. Hall, Johansson and Vatanen also registered five shots on goal. Hits were led by Hall and Coleman who both had three and blocks were led by Andy Greene with three. Hischier had the most takeaways on the Devils with two.

Scheifele was named the game’s first star with two goals, including the game winner in overtime. Brossoit was the second star and Bratt the third star.

Next up, the Devils will remain home on Monday night when they faceoff with the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Rock. I will be attending this game, so my report will be a little bit late, but I will try to get it up as soon as possible.

Devils Fall in OT Again as Panthers Complete Comeback

It has been rough sledding for the Devils in overtime this year. But this game was a little tougher to swallow as the Devils had a few leads over the course of the night before ultimately losing in the extra period 4-3 to the Panthers down in Sunrise, Florida.

Both teams came into the game in last place in their divisions while the Panthers were in last place overall in the Eastern Conference. It has been a challenging season so far for each side, but the teams put together an entertaining game tonight. The Devils do remain at only two road wins for the year, as they now fall to 2-9-1 when away from Prudential Center.

This was the back end of the Devils’ third back-to-back of the year. They are now 0-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs with one coming up this coming weekend against Washington and Winnipeg.

Two injury notes as Marcus Johansson is out, day-to-day with a lower body injury. J-S Dea slotted in at forward for him tonight. Also, Steven Santini is with the New Jersey club but remains on injured reserve. He will practice with the team while he continues to get better from his broken jaw.

Johansson was a scratch along with Mirco Mueller and Drew Stafford. Miles Wood played on the second line in place of Johansson. Blake Coleman was also a game-time decision.

The Devils also nearly lost Nico Hischier during this game, as he was hit from behind and had his face slammed into the glass by Bogdan Kiselevich midway through the third period. No penalty was called on the play – Nico had his numbers showing meaning he was turned away and that this was a clear hit from behind – and Nico did go down the tunnel for some treatment, but he did return later in the third frame.

In the crease, it was back to Keith Kinkaid for this game. He ended up with 30 stops on 34 Florida shots. He played a good game and got some help from the posts, especially very late in regulation with the game tied at three. Jared McCann hit the post on a clear breakaway that helped force the OT period. For the Panthers, James Reimer was in nets, subbing for the injured Roberto Luongo. He made 29 saves on 32 Devils shots.

Following a scoreless first period, only the second time this season that the Devils have played a scoreless first according to Steve Cangialosi of MSG+ (the other was on October 14 against San Jose), the scoring got kicked off in earnest in the second. Miles Wood scored his second of the year from Sami Vatanen and Egor Yakovlev at the 1:23 mark of the second frame. It came when Kyle Palmieri fought for the puck in the corner and slid it to Wood near the half wall. He gave it to Yakovlev, who went D-to-D with Vatanen. Vatanen shot and Wood, who had gone to the net, tipped it by Reimer to make it 1-0 Devils. It was Wood’s first goal since October 30 at the Lightning.

Then the Devils, who were nursing that 1-0 lead, got into penalty trouble. First they were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty at 5:35. Luckily, Blake Coleman would have the answer for the best kind of penalty killing. He scored a shorthanded goal. The goal came unassisted at 6:01 on a breakaway as he just fired the puck by Reimer without letting him get set. It was both Coleman and the Devils second shorthanded goals of the year.

But, while they were killing that first penalty off with a 2-0 lead, Travis Zajac took a slashing call on a nice scoring attempt by Jonathan Huberdeau at 6:49. The Devils would now be down 5-on-3 for 46 seconds. The Panthers would not delay. Aleksander Barkov scored over Kinkaid’s glove off of a feed from Evgenii Dadonov. Huberdeau had the secondary assist on the power play goal which came with four seconds remaining on the first penalty (the 7:31 mark of the period), meaning the Devils still had to kill off the remainder of the second penalty.

On the night, the Devils went 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots on goal. They had four shorthanded shots. Florida was 1-for-4 with four power play shots. They also had three shorthanded shots on special teams.

The Cats had cut the lead to one for the Devils but would knot things up before the end of the second. McCann scored at the 11:43 mark to tie things at two. He beat Kinkaid with plenty of time and space off of a feed from Mackenzie Weegar when the Devils failed to clear the zone. With the start of the third period, we would be exactly where we were going into the second: tied.

The Devils would retake the lead midway through the third at 11:27 when Jesper Bratt scored an almost identical goal to the Wood one. Bratt scored from Vatanen and Taylor Hall to make it 3-2 when the Devils set up shop in the Florida zone and Hall worked it back to Vatanen at the near point. He released a quick shot that Bratt was able to get a stick on and tip by Reimer. The Devils had the lead late, now they just had to hold on.

But they could not. After Reimer was pulled with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, Huberdeau scored from Barkov and Dadonov when the puck pinballed around in front of Kinkaid, finally finding its way onto Huberdeau’s stick. He put it past Kinkaid to tie things up at three. Following a back-and-forth last minute or so, we were headed to overtime with both teams getting a point out of the deal.

Early in the 3-on-3 extra session, it appeared the Panthers had won things when Mike Hoffman’s shot seemed to go in and out of the net. The referee signaled goal, the goal horn went off and the fans reacted, but replays showed that he had actually hit the post with it coming back out. New Jersey had gotten a reprieve but it was not to last.

A few seconds later, 1:28 into the OT, Hoffman scored for real from Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad to get the 4-3 win. The Devils had taken the hardluck loss and will now return to New Jersey before facing the Capitals in Washington on Friday.

The Devils ended the game winning just under half of the game’s faceoffs at 48-percent and were outhit by Florida 24 to 17. The Panthers had more blocked shots at 14 to 12 but the Devils had less giveaways with 13 to the Cats’ 19.

Individually, Damon Severson led in time on ice with 25:08 (1:05 on the PP, 1:19 on PK) while Hall led all forwards with 21:02 (2:46 power play/three seconds PK). Shots on goal were led by Brett Seney with four, hits were led by Coleman with three and blocked shots were led by Kyle Palmieri, Stefan Noesen and Andy Greene with two each. Hischier and Travis Zajac led in takeaways with two each.

Next up, as mentioned, the Devils will head home to regroup this week as they do not play until Friday down in Washington. That game will be at 7 PM and we will have a recap right here when all is said and done.

Lightning Strike Twice: Devils Fall in Second Trip to Tampa

Back on October 30, the Devils traveled down to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. They fell in that game 8-3 in a game that started out for New Jersey but ended in a complete disaster. That was not the case tonight, as the disaster happened early in the first period and the Devils ended up falling 5-2 to the Bolts.

The Devils would try to get a little bit of a shake up in the roster by slotting Stefan Noesen and Egor Yakovlev in at forward and defense, respectively. Sitting in their place was forward J-S Dea and defenseman Mirco Mueller along with Drew Stafford. In other roster news, Steven Santini, it has been announced, will join up with the Devils at the Panthers tomorrow. He was on a long-term injured reserve conditioning stint in Binghamton. He should be available for the big league Devils tomorrow.

In addition to Santini coming back, there was one other milestone being celebrated tonight. Nico Hischier was playing in his 100th NHL regular season game. He played all 82 games last season and that is how he was able to reach that milestone so quickly. He mentioned to Erika Wachter of MSG+ before the game that in Europe they do not play as many games as in the NHL and that this was an achievement that he was very proud of.

In goal, both netminders saw a lot of rubber. Cory Schneider – looking for his first win since April 16 (a playoff win versus the Lightning) – made the start for New Jersey. He made 30 saves on 35 shots. For the Lightning, they are missing Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is on IR with a broken foot. In his place, Tampa threw out Louie Domingue. Domingue stopped 33 of 35 shots faced as well.

For Schneider, the first period was a rough one to be sure as he let in four goals, one of which was a direct result of a mistake made by him. But he played the other 40 minutes very well and was only beaten by a tough one that we will get into in the second period.

The first goal of the game was the goal that Cory would probably most like to have back. After some miscommunication behind the net, where he settled the puck down and it was stolen by a forechecking Mathieu Joseph. He gave it to Alex Killorn right in front of the net, who deposited it to make it 1-0 Tampa at 3:19 of the first period.

The second goal of the game saw one streak end and another continue. It began when Brian Boyle was called for cross-checking Nikita Kucherov at 6:15. Ken Daneyko on MSG+ was not happy with this call, citing how Kucherov had left his feet for a hit on Miles Wood a minute or so earlier which was not called. He felt that Boyle was just playing physical and it was a weak call. But, the call was made and New Jersey needed to kill the penalty off, which has not been a problem for them as they were on a streak of killing off 14 straight opponent’s power plays. But that would end when Brayden Point scored at 7:21 off of a nice feed from Kucherov. Victor Hedman had the secondary assist. That assist for Kucherov extended his point scoring streak to six consecutive games. It was now 2-0 Bolts.

As for the special teams, the Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play with four shots. Tampa went 1-for-3 with four shots on the man advantage plus a shorthanded shot.

The Lightning train kept rolling at 9:15 of the first when Tyler Johnson took a good pass from Point out of the corner following a nice outlet pass by Kucherov. Johnson beat Cory over his shoulder to make it 3-0 Lightning and the rout seemed to be on.

But the Devils would answer right back only 24 seconds later at 9:39 when Stefan Noesen scored from Brett Seney. It happened when Seney’s rebound was tucked behind Domingue by Noesen going to the front of the net. Boyle had been cutting across the crease prior to the goal and Tampa coach Jon Cooper decided to use his coach’s challenge as he thought that Boyle had interfered with Domingue before the goal went in, bumping him and not allowing him to get set to stop Noesen’s shot. The replay showed that that was not the case and the call on the ice stood as a good goal. The Devils had cut the Tampa lead to 3-1.

Cedric Paquette of the Lightning would restore the three goal, however, at the 11:25 mark of the first. He scored from Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi to make it 4-1 and the Devils were back in a hole.

They would seem to be in an even bigger hole late in the first when Taylor Hall was hit in the face by a puck, but he would return before the period was out.

Cory Schneider would be scored on again in the second period, but it was by no means any fault of his own and was another he would surely like to have back. Sami Vatanen was in front of the net trying to clear a loose puck, as he had Brayden Point bearing down on him. As he spun to clear the puck towards the corner, he inadvertently shot it at Schneider before he was fully set and it went in. Point got credit for the goal unassisted at 8:30 of the second. It was now 5-1 Bolts.

The Devils would get one more in the third period to make the score a little bit more respectable. Jesper Bratt had that one, unassisted at 5:21 of the final frame. It came off of a partial 2-on-1 with Wood where Bratt elected to shoot, slapping one by Domingue to make it 5-2. That goal was Bratt’s first of the year, as he had missed a good majority of the beginning of the season with the broken jaw.

And that was it. The Devils won just under half of the game’s faceoffs, with 49-percent of them. They also outhit the Lightning 23 to 17 and had one more block at 11 to Tampa’s 10. Tampa had one more giveaway at five to the Devils’ four.

Individually, Andy Greene led the Devils in ice time with 22:17 (which includes 4:25 on the PK). With Hall missing a bit of the first period, Blake Coleman led the forwards with 19:02 of time on ice (including 4:13 of shorthanded time). Hall did, however, manage to lead the team in shots on goal with five while Noesen – who had sat largely in part due to the coaching staff wanting him to “play more to his identity” – led in hits with four. Blocked shots were led by Hall as well with three and Hall, Travis Zajac, Coleman, Pavel Zacha and Wood each had a takeaway to lead the team collectively with one.

Next up, the Devils will have to forget about this one as they travel across the state of Florida to Sunrise to take on the Panthers tomorrow night. That game is at 7 PM on Monday and, of course, we will have coverage right here for you.

Schneider Recalled From Conditioning Stint, Will Get a Start on Road Trip

According to Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com, Cory Schneider is officially on his way back. The Devils goalie has been recalled from his conditioning assignment in Binghamton of the AHL and will get a start on the Devils upcoming road trip. He practiced today with the New Jersey Devils and will back up Keith Kinkaid in Tampa Bay when the Devils take on Lightning tomorrow night.

Cory told Morreale that “It’s more excitement and eagerness than nervousness. To compete again at this level, it’s fun. The way it ended last year in the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs, you have that feeling in your mind and that’s the level you want to get to again.”

Schneider is, of course recovering from his May 1 surgery “to repair torn cartilage in his left hip.” Morreale said that it was initially thought Schneider would “need five months to recover; Nov. 1 will mark six months.” Morreale also noted that his last game came in the first round game five loss to the Lightning at Amalie Arena that eliminated the Devils from the playoffs.

Morreale said that during his American League assignment down in Binghamton, he went 1-1-1 and had a 2.67 goals against average and a .897 save percentage over three games.

Kinkaid has started all eight of the Devils games this season and is 5-2-1 to go with his 2.12 goals against and a .925 save percentage. Head coach John Hynes told Morreale that “It was the first time in a while [Schneider] has had his own net in an NHL practice and it was 55 minutes of good work. I think it’s important we take it day by day with the goalies. Kinkaid will play Tuesday, but we do have a back-to-back situation coming up )Nov. 5-6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators). Cory for sure will get in, but I can’t guarantee which game that will be.”

Morreale said that Cory “missed 16 games last season with a groin/hip injury sustained during a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Jan. 23.” His stats last season read a 17-16-6 record with a 2.93 goals against average (his highest in his five years with the Devils according to Morreale) and a .907 save percentage, his lowest in those same five years.

Goaltender Eddie Lack has been optioned back to Binghamton to make room for Schneider on the NHL roster.

In other Devils injury news via Morreale, he was told by Hynes that Ben Lovejoy and Jesper Bratt will make the road trip. Lovejoy is questionable against Tampa and Bratt is still “expected to be out two more weeks.” In addition, Drew Stafford could join the team “at some point during the trip” and Marcus Johansson will be back in the lineup Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game due to illness.

“Behind the Glass” Episode Four (Series Finale)

The series finale of “Behind the Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp” aired tonight and focused heavily on the NHL Global Series game against Edmonton in Sweden. The end of training camp and the beginning of the regular season is covered as coach John Hynes gives the team their last pep talk going into the regular season opener.

Taylor Hall is interviewed and he is ready for the regular season to begin. This takes us to a shot of Gothenburg and an interview with Marcus Johansson and his family. He had not seen his wife and daughter since training camp began and gets to visit with them since he is home in Sweden. He is from not too far from Gothenburg and the game against Edmonton will, of course, occur on his birthday.

Another Swede, Jesper Bratt is covered. Ray Shero and Tom Fitzgerald talk about his freak jaw injury and how long he will be out. Bratt was, of course, very much looking forward to the game and it was a very emotional conversation with his family when he told them he could not play in it.

Hynes runs the team through breakouts in practice and more footage of the Devils’ practice in Sweden is shown.

The third of the Devils’ Swedish players is shown as goalie Eddie Lack is walking around Gothenburg with his mother and father. In a fish market, he jokes around with his dad, talks Swedish cuisine and meets some fans who made the trip over from New Jersey for the game.

Owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer made a cameo as they talk about the team’s support in Europe in general and Sweden in particular.

Hall then talks about playing the Oilers. He feels that in early meetings with Edmonton, he got too worked up when playing them and was not playing his best. Now, it is just another game for him and he is looser. He does still think it feels weird to see former teammates warming up on the other side of the ice.

Highlights from the game are then shown, with Kyle Palmieri’s first goal and Connor McDavid’s equalizer. The difference in the level of intensity in the regular season is on full display. Both teams are ready to go.

We come back from break and second period highlights are shown as the Devils take the lead and the Oilers grab the momentum going into the third period. Coach Hynes has a great line in the dressing room between the second and third periods: “Skate ’em into the ground! Do not let them off the hook!”

And sure enough, the Devils come out in the third and finish them off. Following the game, Travis Zajac, who scored the game winner, talks about how losing would have made this a tough trip and a rough ride home. Andy Greene concurs with him.

Zajac is given the game puck in the dressing room, as he clinched the game for the Devils, and he gives a semi-victory speech. “Semi” in that it also serves as a bit of a warning that the Devils’ hard work is not yet done.

Back home in New Jersey, Zajac talks about not seeing his family for two weeks while in Europe. He said that he is happy his son got to see the game (which was on before his bedtime in the US) and how he wants to keep improving and the team should not be satisfied with results. Although results do instill confidence. He says that the season will bring excitement for the fans and that the players play for the love of the game and to win.

The narrator mentions that how the season ends for the Devils will be determined by how it kicked off. Did the Devils prepare enough? Fans will find out during the remaining 81 games of the regular season and, hopefully for the Devils and their fans, two months of the postseason.

The series then wraps up with highlights of the show set to music.

Overall, this was a great series. It gave the fans unprecedented access to the team, something we could only dream about in the past. It brought publicity to the team, something they do not always get as they tend to get lost in the shuffle both locally and nationally. And it also kind of made a star out of John Hynes. Fans are now quoting him online on message boards and other forums. He ended up getting one of the biggest ovations during the team’s introductions during the home opener. Fans feel connected to him and now have a clearer picture of what he wants to do to make the team a contender again.

If you have not already, do yourself a big favor and seek this series out. It is worth every moment of the two hours you will spend watching it.

Devils Sign Stafford; Bratt Out For Season Opener

The Devils have come to terms with right winger Drew Stafford today. He will receive a one-year, one-way contract worth $810,000. He had been in training camp on a professional tryout (PTO) agreement.

The 32-year-old Milwaukee, Wisconsin native fired home eight goals and had seven assists (15 points) for the Devils last season over 59 games with the club. He also played in two playoff games against Tampa Bay.

He was drafted 13th overall in the first round of the 2004 Draft by the Sabres. He played parts of nine seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Winnipeg in 2015. He was actually dealt to the Jets along with Tyler Myers, Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux (Claude’s son) for Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf. He was then traded at the 2017 trading deadline to Boston. He signed as a free agent with the Devils in August of 2017.

So Drew Stafford will be back in the fold come opening night for the Devils but Jesper Bratt will not.

According to an article on the Devils’ official site written by Amanda Stein, Bratt will miss the opener in his home country of Sweden due to a fractured jaw. He suffered the fracture on Thursday during practice in what Stein called a “freak accident.”

Stein quoted John Hynes as saying “He has a fracture, and no surgery is needed so that’s good news. He should be able to continue his physical activity over the course of (rehab) and he’ll be back ready to go when the time comes.”

According to Stein, Bratt will be placed on injured reserve and “his expected recovery time set at two to three weeks.”

Stein also said that Stafford was used “as an extra forward in practice on Friday” meaning he may or may not play in the opener on Saturday.

The Devils held an open practice at the Scandinavium today (Friday) as the Swedish fans were able to watch the Devils get set to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Hall Sets Record; Devils Fall to Florida

It feels kind of safe to say that if you are reading this, you are probably a Devils fan. So I know that I am preaching to the choir when I say that Taylor Hall is a pretty special hockey player.

He continued to prove as such when he scored in his franchise record breaking 16th straight game. He became the tenth player, according to the NHL, in the last 30 years with a point in 23-plus consecutive appearances. Taylor Hall is on another level for the Devils and we are all just coming along for the ride.

However, despite that, the Devils did lose in their only trip to Sunrise to the Florida Panthers, 3-2. There were many positives to take out of that loss and the Devils will need to regroup fast as this was the first half of a back-to-back.

First, a return. Cory Schneider had not played for the big club since January 23 against the Boston Bruins when he injured his groin and hip. He returned tonight to make 26 saves on 29 Florida shots. His former Vancouver running mate, Roberto Luongo opposed him, making 29 saves on 31 Devils shots.

Patrick Maroon made his Devils debut and came up a goal short of a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” Photo: downloaded from BleacherReport.com

Next, a debut. Patrick Maroon made his first appearance in a Devils uniform tonight. He ended the game with two points (assists on both Devils goals), was a plus-1 with three shots on goal, two hits all in 13:16 of total ice time. That included 3:12 on the power play. He also had a fight on his very first shift as a Devil. The fight, against Micheal Haley, came just 1:54 into his Devils career, making it the quickest a Devil has ever gotten into a fight from his debut on the team (stat via MSG Network). The fight ended in a clear draw. He ended the night a goal short of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

It was also Maroon’s first game since February 20, as he had a lower body injury his final few days in Edmonton and then missed the Pittsburgh game due to travel. He played the night on a line centered by Brian Boyle and with Blake Coleman.

Florida got the scoring kicked off at the 6:51 mark of the first period when Aleksander Barkov scored his first of two on the night. The goal came when Barkov was crashing the net. He got hauled down by Nico Hischier in what Cory called “a hockey play” and the puck went in off of Barkov. Devils coach John Hynes challenged for goalie interference, challenging the call on the ice (good goal). Replay showed that Nico and Barkov collided and fell into Cory, meaning that it was not goalie interference. The call on the ice stood, it was a good goal and it was 1-0 Panthers. Evgenii Dadonov and Alexander Petrovic had the assists on the goal.

The Devils finished the period hitting the post twice as Coleman and Boyle each found iron in succession just before the buzzer sounded.

The Devils went on the power play at the 18:56 mark of the first period, when Nick Bjugstad was nabbed for interfering with Andy Greene, meaning that the majority of the power play would come on a fresh sheet of ice in the second. And it would pay off. Hall scored from Maroon and Sami Vatanen just 50 seconds into the second. This goal, which was Hall’s 16th straight game with a point, breaking a record he held jointly with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta (with 15 straight games), came when Hall fired a seeing eye shot from the far half wall. The puck found its way by Luongo to tie it up at one. This was Hall’s 28th goal of the year, also a career high for him.

With that goal coming on the power play, the Devils finished the night 1-for-2 with four shots on goal. The Panthers were 0-for-2 without a shot on goal.

It would remain 1-1 until the third period when things opened up a little bit. At the 8:38 mark, Maxim Mamin scored from Jared McCann and Aaron Ekblad. His shot snuck in between the post and Cory’s glove to make the score 2-1 Florida.

Cory kept the Devils in the game late in the third with a big stop on Dadonov on a breakaway to keep it 2-1.

It would remain that way until 16:26 when Barkov scored his second of the night from Dadonov and Bjugstad. Barkov scored this one by backhanding one top shelf over Schneider’s shoulder. It was now 3-1 Panthers, just like that.

The Devils would pull Cory for the first time with about two or three minutes left in the game to gain the six on five advantage. On that one, Jesper Bratt would end his goal drought (he had not scored one since January 20) with a breakaway goal where he went backhand, glove side by Luongo to make it 3-2. The goal came at 17:53 and Maroon had the lone assist.

New Jersey would pull Schneider again with 1:30 or so left, but were unable to tie the game up. The Panthers had been unable to put the game on ice with an empty netter (Jamie McGinn had a great chance with mere seconds left), but did get the win anyway.

It was a hard fought game, but the Panthers have been playing very well of late and have interjected themselves into the playoff picture. As Steve Cangialosi pointed out, for months it was taken for granted that five Metropolitan Division teams would make the playoffs out of the East. The Panthers are challenging that thought as they surge onto the scene.

Overall, Vatanen led in ice time wiht 23:40 (3:03 of which came on the power play and 56 seconds on the PK), Miles Wood led in shots with five, Boyle led in hits with five, Greene led in blocks with three. Takeaways were also led by Greene with two and the Devils won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils head up to Raleigh tomorrow to take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the second half of a back-to-back. The Hurricanes just got finished beating the Flyers 4-1 in Philadelphia tonight, so they are on a roll. The Devils will try to use this game to put some more distance between themselves and a division rival who is right behind them in the playoff race. We will see you tomorrow night.

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Devils Lose Kinkaid to Injury, Fall to Flyers

The Devils were set to play their fifth straight game against a Metropolitan divisional foe today in Philadelphia with the thought that Keith Kinkaid would make his third straight start. Instead they lost Kinkaid to injury, lost the game 3-1 and lost ground in the division to a resurgent Flyers team.

Kinkaid was penciled in because Cory Schneider had a return of the flu bug that kept him out of action last week. Plus, on Thursday night, he got hit in the back of the head with a stick and needed stitches. All of that led to the Devils calling up Ken Appleby on emergency conditions from AHL Binghamton and Kinkaid getting the start. Kinkaid would play just 12:15 and let in all three Flyer goals before leaving with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

Kinkaid saw seven shots and made just four saves before stretching across his crease to try to nab the third goal. It was there where he seemed to tweak his knee or a groin muscle or something along those lines. Appleby, who has been brought up to backup in the past two seasons, but had yet to see NHL action, came in in relief and played 46:04 stopping all 24 shots he saw. He now has a 1.000 NHL save percentage. That was one silver lining of the afternoon. Because they could only had Appleby and Kinkaid dressed, the Devils utilized an emergency backup goalie who was on their bench by the end of the game. No one on MSG could get a name before the broadcast ended, but he wore number 65 on his jersey.

For the Flyers, Michal Neuvirth was between the pipes, making 28 saves on 29 shots faced. With this victory, he notched his 100th NHL win.

There was one other silver lining for the Devils: special teams. The power play and the penalty kill failed them in their loss to the Flyers last week. Tonight, they kept Philadelphia 0-for-4 on the man advantage limiting them to a total of six shots. Meanwhile, the Devils were 1-for-5 on the power play with four shots on goal.

Roster-wise, the Devils were largely the same as the last two wins, with Blake Coleman, Jimmy Hayes and Steven Santini the healthy scratches and Cory a scratch due to illness.

Philly got on the board early and often. Travis Konecny scored five hole on Kinkaid just 3:29 into the game from Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton. That made it 1-0 Flyers just like that.

At 8:30 of the first period, Valtteri Filppula took a lucky bounce that landed on his stick and fired it home to make it 2-0. Michael Raffl and Radko Gudas had the assists. That would go on to be the game winner.

Ivan Provorov finished the Philadelphia scoring at 12:15 on the goal where Kinkaid got injured. Konecny and Claude Giroux had the assists on that goal which made it 3-0 Flyers.

As would be expected in a Flyers-Devils game, there were some scrums and a fight. Raffl clipped Appleby behind his net and was not called for interference at the 16:28 mark of the first period. John Moore took exception and decided to take matters into his own hands and fought Raffl, with the fight ending in a draw. Appleby would finish up his first (partial) period of NHL action by making a nice glove save just as time expired.

New Jersey would lose Brian Gibbons for the afternoon early in the second period when he blocked a shot and injured his hand. Gibbons is a selfless player who blocks a lot of shots, hopefully this is not long term for him.

The Devils’ lone goal came in the second period on the power play. At 6:41, Laughton was called for high-sticking Travis Zajac. With New Jersey on the man advantage, the goal materialized at 8:12 when the Devils converted extended pressure in the Philly zone. Will Butcher took the puck at the point and quarterbacked it to Jesper Bratt at the top of the far faceoff circle. He fired and beat Neuvirth to make it 3-1. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist on that goal and that was it for the scoring.

The Flyers settled into a good, sound defensive game, limited the Devils’ chances. New Jersey would pull Appleby with about two minutes remaining in the game to try and tie things up, but time just ran out on the Devils. Although Bratt did hit the post with less than two seconds left on the clock.

On the stat sheet, Sami Vatanen led in ice time with 22:12, Brian Boyle had the most shots at four, Boyle, Stefan Noesen and Ben Lovejoy each led in hits with two apiece and Lovejoy had four blocks to lead in that category. The Devils won only 41-percent of the faceoffs against the best faceoff team in the NHL. In addition to their two game winning streak ending, the Devils’ five game streak of outshooting their opponents came to an end today since they were outshot 31-29 by the Flyers.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. They are done with their spurt of games against the Metro Division for now, but will need to start beating teams in their own division if they intend to do anything come playoff time (be it going far in, or even making, the playoffs). For now, they will have to contend with an Atlantic Division team on Monday night.

Devils Fall to Flyers in Battle of Special Teams

The first meeting this year between the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers was a study in quality versus quantity. The Devils may have had more power play opportunities on the evening, but the Flyers showed them that it is all in how you use it that gets you to the promised land. Philly won the game 5-3.

New Jersey had seven power play situations and converted on two of them while Philadelphia had just two power plays and were a perfect two-for-two. On the way, the Devils dropped their sixth straight.

It being the first meeting of the year between these two rivals, it was also the first ever meeting between 2017 first overall draft pick Nico Hischier and second overall pick Nolan Patrick. The head-to-head stats between these two very young stars read Nico with an assist, a shot on goal, an even plus/minus and one giveaway and one takeaway. Patrick had a minus-1 plus/minus, four penalty minutes and three shots on goal. Both have many battles ahead of them and both have room to develop in this rivalry.

The Devils had Drew Stafford back in at forward and scratched Jimmy Hayes, Stefan Noesen and defenseman Steven Santini. Of note for the Flyers, they were missing Shayne Gostisbehere due to illness. Defenseman Mirco Mueller practiced with New Jersey on Friday and should be returning to the lineup soon.

In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider who stopped 20 of the 25 shots he faced, including four on the power play. In goal for Philly was Brian Elliott, who made 26 saves on 29 shots, including only seven shots on the power play – which was indicative of the anemic Devils power play. For Elliott, it was his 17th start in the Flyers’ last 18 games.

The Devils have 20 of their remaining 41 games against Metropolitan Division opponents, so here we go.

The Devils got on the board first when Jesper Bratt notched his 11th at 5:43 of the first period. It came when Hischier chipped the puck into the Flyers’ zone to Taylor Hall. Hall gave back to Nico at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. He found Bratt sneaking in behind the play and Bratt buried it to make it 1-0. Hischier and Hall had the assists.

Speaking of Taylor Hall, congratulations to him as it was announced that his Ontario Hockey League team, the Windsor Spitfires, would be retiring his number 4 on February 25, the day after Patrik Elias gets his number 26 retired here in New Jersey.

The Devils had the lead, but before the end of the first, Sean Couturier scored from Jordan Weal and Andrew MacDonald to tie things up at one. It was Couturier’s first of two goals on the night.

The Flyers had started getting into penalty trouble in the first period, taking three in the first. They took two early in the second and the Devils would finally capitalize on one. Patrick had taken his first of two consecutive high-sticking penalties and Kyle Palmieri made Philly pay. At 1:46, Brian Boyle won the offensive zone faceoff back to Will Butcher. Butcher slid it to Hall along the halfwall, who gave it back to Butcher at the point. Butcher then found Palmieri at the near faceoff dot for the one-timer. Palmieri pulled the trigger and beat Elliott cleanly to make it 2-1 Devils.

From there, the Flyers power play took over. On the game-tying goal, John Moore had been called for hooking, giving Philly the man advantage. Wayne Simmonds redirected a Claude Giroux shot on that one at 11:53. Jakub Voracek had the secondary assist.

The next power play was set up when Brian Gibbons went off for interference right off of a faceoff at 16:58. Couturier notched his second of the game from Giroux and Ivan Provorov at 18:16 to give Philly their first lead of the night, 3-2.

The Flyers’ Travis Konecny was called for slashing at 19:17 of the second period to give New Jersey 1:18 of power play time on fresh ice in the third. The Devils, however, true to form on the night, were not able to convert.

The Flyers actually scored another goal that could almost be considered a power play goal when Konecny scored at 4:28 of the third from Provorov and Couturier on a delayed penalty call against the Devils. He scored on a breakaway where he put his own rebound home to make it 4-2.

Michael Raffl wrapped up the Philadelphia massacre at 12:04 when he scored from Voracek and Valtteri Filppula to make it 5-2.

The Devils added a meaningless power play goal set up when Robert Hagg was called for tripping at 18:51. On the man advantage, John Moore hit the post and the puck bounced to Damon Severson’s stick. He got it along the near halfwall and fed Drew Stafford in the slot. Stafford put it home at 19:15 of the third to make it 5-3. And that would be your final.

Devils stat leaders saw Sami Vatanen rule ice time with 22:22, Miles Wood and Palmieri lead in shots with four apiece, Blake Coleman lead in hits with four and Hall, Boyle, Palmieri, Brian Gibbons, Wood, Marcus Johansson and Moore all tie with one blocked shot. Boyle and Coleman each had two takeaways to lead the team as well. The Devils won 49-percent of their faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils will face the team that sent them into their five day bye period: the Islanders. They will meet on Tuesday at Barclays Center with the Devils still looking for their first-ever win in Brooklyn in the three years the Isles have been there. We will find out then if the Devils can get off their slide and back on the winning track, making up some points in the tight Metro Division race.

Devils Win Thriller Over Ducks in Rico’s Return

Adam Henrique returned to Prudential Center, the site of so many of his personal triumphs, a member of the Anaheim Ducks last night and, despite his best efforts, could not guarantee victory for his new club. The Devils won the game, 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion with a few Devils putting in great efforts.

The Devils got great news today in that Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri would be returning to the lineup from their respective injuries. Marcus Johansson remains the only key player the Devils are missing, as he recovers from a bruised ankle suffered last week against the Rangers. Nick Lappin was sent back down to Binghamton while Jimmy Hayes, Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches for New Jersey. Former Devil Joseph Blandisi, also obtained by the Ducks in the Henrique deal, was a healthy scratch for Anaheim.

In goal, Ryan Miller went for the Ducks, making 29 saves on 33 Devils shots. Cory Schneider was right back on it in his third straight start for the Devils, stopping 21 of 24 Anaheim shots.

Of course, with Adam Henrique’s return to the Prudential Center, came the now-customary video tribute, as any player of any note to a franchise seems to get one when he returns to former stomping grounds now. Henrique got a well deserved standing ovation during the first television timeout when his video was shown. But even before that, at warmups, there was a good grouping of Devils fans at the Ducks’ end, watching him warmup and cheering him the second he stepped on the ice. It was a nice sendoff and a bit of closure for both the man who did so much on and off the ice for the Devils and the fans who loved him.

But after all of that, there was a game to be played. And it was the Ducks who jumped out to the early lead. Ryan Getzlaf scored from Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson to make it 1-0 at just 6:44 into the first period.

A few minutes later, Jakob Silfverberg scored to make it 2-0 at 10:30. He got assists from Andrew Cogliano and Henrique. Henrique had scored his first point against the Devils, but it would not be his last of the night. The Devils were in a deep hole, but it was pretty early and there was still plenty of hockey to be played.

They finally broke through at the 8:11 mark of the second period when Miles Wood made it 2-1. That goal came on the power play, set up when Manson put the puck over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty. The goal developed when Drew Stafford skated the puck into the Ducks’ zone, dishing to Jesper Bratt at the far half wall. He sent the puck back to the far point to Sami Vatanen, who fired with Wood tipping the puck by Miller to cut the Anaheim lead in half. Vatanen also gained his first point against his former team with that assist. The Devils ended the night 1-for-2 on the power play with three shots on goal while the Ducks were 0-for-2 with a lone shot.

Never one to be outdone, though, Adam Henrique would score his first goal against the Devils at 11:21 of the second period to make it 3-1, making a nice power move around the Devils’ d-man and putting it by Cory. Manson had the lone assist on that goal.

But for the Ducks, that goal by Henrique would be their last of the game. The Devils comeback would begin with another Miles Wood goal at 18:16 of the second to make it 3-2. It came when Pavel Zacha skated the puck deep into the Anaheim zone. He dropped off for Wood along the goal line on the far side and Wood skated back to the half wall, firing a shot against the grain that beat Miller to get the Devils back into things. That goal, late in the period, would be a killer for the Ducks. Wood was named the game’s second star.

The game tying goal came just 5:49 into the third period and came right after Bratt was called for tripping at 3:36. Bratt came out of the penalty box and stayed on the ice. Brian Boyle headmanned the puck up to Blake Coleman, who broke in on a 2-on-2 with Bratt. Bratt took a pass from Coleman and ripped one past Miller from the top of the faceoff circle on the far side. The Devils had fought back to tie things, now they would be going for the jugular. Bratt would be named third star of the game at night’s end.

That came courtesy of Stefan Noesen, who found twine at 15:53 to give the Devils the lead. It came when Andy Greene went point-to-point with Boyle. Boyle shot and the puck was knocked down in front by Noesen. Noesen shot and gathered his own rebound off of Miller. Miller was caught way out of position, far out of his crease and it was an easy chip in for Noesen to give the Devils the 4-3 lead.

Noesen would add an empty netter at 19:53 from Boyle as he reigned in first star honors for the night. The final score was 5-3 Devils. What made Noesen’s two goals all the more impressive is that before he even scored the first one, he had blocked a shot that seemed to hurt him inside of the left leg. He would briefly leave the game, but the former Duck would return and help the Devils win the game.

Vatanen would lead the Devils in time on ice against his former mates with 23:25. Shots were led by Taylor Hall with five in his return. Hits were led by Travis Zajac with four and Vatanen also led in blocks with three. The Devils won only 43-percent of their faceoffs on the night. For those wondering, Henrique’s final stat line read a goal and an assist for two points, a minus-1 rating, three shots on goal, one block all in 19:28 of total ice time (including 2:32 on the power play and 43 seconds of PK time).

Next up, Thursday and a big showdown at The Rock against the rival New York Rangers. The Devils currently stand in first place in the Metropolitan Division, just ahead of Washington (due to New Jersey having games in hand – despite the same 43 points) and two up on Columbus (who lost last night to Boston). Can the Devils keep things rolling and beat their rivals to stay atop the division? We will find out Thursday.