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.

North Division Wins AHL All-Star Classic as Batherson Takes Home MVP Honors

The AHL’s All-Star Challenge took place at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts yesterday. It was a homecoming of sorts for the AHL as they have their headquarters in the city. The All-Stars each put forth a good showing with the North Division (featuring the Binghamton Devils’ John Quenneville and Mackenzie Blackwood) taking it all in the tournament between divisions. It was the North’s second straight victory as they also took the tournament last year.

First up was the round robin. Here games were ten minutes (with a break and goalie change at five minutes) and saw each division play each other once. At the end of the round robin, the teams with the best record met in a six minute championship game.

The first game featured the Central Division taking on the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic took this one 3-1. The Atlantic got goals from Colin McDonald (the Atlantic captain), Trevor Carrick and John Gilmour (who scored into an empty net). Denis Gurianov scored for the Central and he actually scored first in the game to give the Central a quick 1-0 lead that would not last. In goal in this game, Troy Grosenick started for the Central and stopped all six shots he saw. Kaapo Kahkonen then came in and also faced six shots, letting in two. For the Atlantic, Vitek Vanecek stopped all four he saw and Samuel Montembeault – the starter – turned aside two of three.

The next game was another East-West matchup as the Pacific All-Stars faced the North All-Stars. The Pacific won this one 4-2, getting on the board first when Joe Gambardella scored. In the second “half” Sheldon Rempal gave the Pacific a 2-0 lead. The North would tie things up when Drake Batherson (who would go on to be named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his performance) scored a pair in the second but the Pacific would fight back for the win. Sean Walker scored the game winner followed by Cooper Marody into an empty net. The goaltenders were busy in this one, Kevin Boyle, starting for the Pacific stopped all four shots he saw while Josef Korenar saw 11 shots and saved nine of them. For the North, Blackwood got the save and saw two shots, stopping one of them. Connor Ingram came on in the second and saved five of seven.

The North stayed on the ice as they took on the Central Division next. The North came out victorious 4-2. John Quenneville had a good game in this one, scoring the opener in the first unassisted. Joel L’Esperance tied it early in the second but Batherson put the North back up when he scored off an assist from Quenneville. But again, the Central tied it when Daniel Carr scored a little over a minute later. The North finally took the lead for good when Reid Boucher scored the game winner. Batherson would add an empty net goal to give the North the win. In nets, Grosenick stopped six of eight while the starter, Kahkonen stopped three of four for the Central. For the North, starter Ingram stopped all three he saw while Blackwood had four saves on six shots.

It was a cross-continent matchup in the next game as the Pacific took on the Atlantic. The Atlantic took this one 5-2, taking an early lead in the first when Gilmour and Ethan Prow scored with a Pacific goal by Francis Perron sandwiched in between. In the second, Gilmour, Andrew Poturalski and Michael Dal Colle scored for the Atlantic while Walker added a late one for the Pacific. The goalies were Korenar starting for the Pacific and making three saves on five shots. Kevin Boyle came in for him and stopped one in four shots taken. For the Atlantic, Vanecek stopped four of five while Montembeault came in and made eight saves on nine shots.

An all-Western Conference battle ensued next with the Central taking on the Pacific. The Central won 5-3. The Pacific took the early lead when Michael Bunting scored just 28 seconds in. Near the closing of the second, Gurianov tied the game at one. The Central took control in the second when Matt Donovan notched two with 20 seconds of each other. Jacob Middleton of the Pacific scored before the Central scored two more: Chris Terry at 4:04 and Daniel Carr into an empty net at 4:33. Walker scored one with less than 15 seconds remaining for the Pacific. Grosenick made seven saves on eight shots while Kahkonen made ten saves on twelve shots for the Central All-Stars. For the Pacific, Boyle made three saves on four shots while Korenar stopped three of six.

Following an all-West game, the East took center stage. The North faced the Atlantic and won 4-1. Nathan Gerbe and Boucher got the North up by two early. Gerbe would score again in the second while Greg Carey notched the only Atlantic goal a few seconds after that. Batherson finished things off to give the North the victory. Blackwood started for the North and turned aside the only shot he saw. Ingram came on in the second and stopped four of five in the winning effort. For the Atlantic, hometown boy Montembeault stopped seven of nine while Vanecek, coming on in the second, made four saves on five shots.

With that, round robin play came to an end and the championship game was set. The Atlantic at 2-1 would take on the North also at 2-1. This game was just six minutes long and saw the North win 1-0 in a shootout. When the game finished with no score, it was up to Blackwood and Vanecek to take on shooters one-on-one in a shootout.

Boucher went first for the North with Vanecek stopping him. Anthony Greco was first up for the Atlantic and he was also stopped. Batherson (North) and Dal Colle (Atlantic) went next and both scored. Gerbe (North) and Poturalski (Atlantic) were stopped in the next round and we were on to round four. Trevor Moore scored on his attempt for the North Division and Carey was stopped by Blackwood on his try to give the North the 1-0 win. In the game itself, Blackwood stopped all three shots he saw and Vanecek stopped all six he saw.

So with that another All-Star game comes to an end. The Devils (both the NHL and AHL versions) fared well, with both of their divisions winning their respective games and their players contributing.

We will see you right here for Devils-Rangers coverage on Thursday. Again, if you wish, please remember to comment on this and any other post on the site. We really appreciate it.

West Wins AHL All-Star Skills Competition

The American Hockey League presented their All-Star Skills Competition earlier tonight from the Massmutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts with the Western Conference coming away with the victory 17-14 over seven events. The Binghamton Devils were represented by goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forward John Quenneville.

The first event of the evening was the Puck Control Relays as players skated a puck through cones set out on the ice. The first two races were team-based while the final two were one-on-one between two skaters.

First up, the Western Conference team of Jordan Kyrou (San Antonio Rampage), Sheldon Rempal (Ontario Reign) and Kyle Capobianco (Tucson Roadrunners) faced off with the Eastern Conference’s Drake Batherson (Belleville Senators), Sebastian Aho (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) and Christian Wolanin (Belleville – he is the son of former Devil Craig Wolanin). The West was awarded a goal on this one, winning the heat.

The East took the second race, with Andrew Poturalski (Charlotte Checkers), Ethan Prow (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) and Trevor Moore (Toronto Marlies) defeating the West’s Francis Perron (San Jose Barracuda), Cooper Marody (Bakersfield Condors) and Andrew Agozzino (Colorado Eagles).

The next two heats were one-on-one with the East taking both. Nathan Gerbe (Cleveland Monsters) defeated Erik Brannstrom (Chicago Wolves) in Race #3 and Anthony Greco (Springfield Thunderbirds) beat Cal O’Reilly (Iowa Wild) in Race #4.

The East had taken three of the first four goals and were up 3-1 after one event. Next up was the Fastest Skater, with two goals on the line (player with the fastest time and fastest average time for the team).

The East took the fastest individual skater, as Greco won in a AHL-record time of 13.251. However, the West took the best average time as Sean Walker of Ontario recorded a time of 14.057, Denis Gurlanov of the Texas Stars completed the course in 13.703 and Kyrou got a time of 13.520. Brendan Guhle (Rochester Americans) with 13.648 and John Gilmour (Hartford Wolf Pack) with 14.428 rounded out the East’s times.

The East was up 4-2 heading into the Rapid Fire event. The object here was for two shooters to fire ten pucks (five for each shooter) at a goalie and score as many as they could.

The first goalie up was Josef Korenar (San Jose) who faced the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ Colin McDonald and Charlotte’s Trevor Carrick. He stopped six of ten. Blackwood was up first for the East, facing Curtis Lazar (Stockton Heat) and Daniel Carr (Chicago). He stopped four of ten. Iowa’s Kaapo Kahkonen took the net from there, facing former Devil Reid Boucher of the Utica Comets and Jordan Szwarz of the Providence Bruins. He made eight saves. Vitek Vanecek (Hershey Bears) faced Joel L’Esperance (Texas) and Chris Terry (Grand Rapids Griffins), making six saves. Kevin Boyle of the San Diego Gulls was next, stopping six against the Syracuse Crunch’s Cory Conacher and Alex Belzile of the Laval Rocket. Connor Ingram of Syracuse faced Logan Shaw of the Manitoba Moose and Michael Bunting of Tucson and stopped four shots. Troy Grosenick of the Milwaukee Adirmals stepped into the shooting gallery, making eight saves against Michael Dal Colle of Bridgeport and Calle Rosen of Toronto. And finally was Sam Montembeault of the hometown Thunderbirds who stopped six of Joe Gambardella (Bakersfield) and Rempal’s shots.

After all of that, the West took home a point, having scored 28 goals to the East’s 20. This set us up for the Hardest Shot contest next.

Greg Carey of Lehigh Valley won this one with a best shot of 100.4 MPH. Again, the player whose team wins gets a goal as well as the team with the highest averge speed. The East won both as Quenneville nailed a 98.1, Guhle hit 99.4 and Carrick hit 99.4. The West had Andrew Campbell of the Rockford IceHogs (99.5 MPH), Matt Donovan of Milwaukee (96.0), Lazar (92.9) and Jacob Middleton of San Jose (96.4). It was now 6-3 in the total score in favor of the East.

The Accuracy Shooting event was next with teams earning a point for the player with the fewest attempts to break all four targets as well as the most hit targets in the fewest attempts. Individaully, Perron (4-for-6) and Boucher (4-for-6) tied to earn a point for both the East and the West. The East won the overall event, hitting 12 targets in just 19 attempts total. Poturalski was 4-for-7, Moore was 2-for-8 and Prow was 2-for-8. For the West, Carr was 3-for-8, L’Esperance was 2-for-8 and Terry was 3-for-8.

With the East up 8-4 and only two events to go, the West needed to kick things into high gear to pull out a win. Next up was the pass and score, which saw players breaking in on 3-on-0’s on the goaltender and trying to score as much as they could in three attempts.

Blackwood went first, facing O’Reilly, Agozzino and Capobianco. He blanked them on all three attempts. Korenar faced Batherson, Aho and Gerbe and made a single save. But those two goals were the only ones the East would record in this event. Vanecek let in two against Brannstrom, Marody and Walker and Kahkonen shut the door on Wolanin, Gilmour and Dal Colle. Ingram also shut out Gurianov, Bunting and Gambardella while Conacher, Szwarz and Rosen failed to score on Boyle. The West’s shooters of Donovan, Middleton and Shaw got one through on Montembeault to put the West up 3-2 and Grosenick shut the door in the final round on McDonald, Carey and Quenneville to give the West the 3-2 win. Since each individual goal scored in this event counted for a total point, the East was now up 10-7.

The final event was the Breakaway Relay. Here too, each individual goal scored counted. Mackenzie Blackwood made three saves on five shots as he faced Kyrou (who scored), Lazar (save), L’Esperance (goal), Rempal (save) and Perron (save). Vanecek made two saves in the third round for the East, Ingram made two in round five and Montembeault made two saves in round seven. For the West, Korenar made four saves in round two and Kahkonen pitched a shutout in round four. Round six featured Boyle in net and John Quenneville shooting. Quenneville’s shot was saved and Boyle made two saves. Finally, in round eight, Grosenick made four saves against the East to put the West on top 10-4.

With that, the West pulled in front on the big board with 17 goals to the East’s four. And that was it. The AHL All-Star Classic is tomorrow night on the NHL Network. The Devils are playing and I will, of course, have that here. But I am recording the AHL game and should have a recap of that up (with info on how Quenneville and Blackwood do) on Tuesday night.

Devils Make Some Roster Moves; Tootoo Retires

The Devils made a few changes to their roster today that will affect things for now and down the line. The following moves were announced via the Devils’ social media accounts.

Firstly, they activated goalie Cory Schneider off of injured reserve. He will get into a game tomorrow for the Binghamton Devils on a rehab assignment. The Bing Devils play the Cleveland Monsters tomorrow night in Binghamton.

Another Devil on his way to Binghamton is John Quenneville. Quenneville was a healthy scratch for yesterday’s New Jersey Devils game against Colorado. He has been assigned to the AHL club. In his place, center Kevin Rooney has been recalled and will meet the New Jersey club in Philadelphia for tomorrow’s tilt against the Flyers.

One other bit of news today was that former Devil Jordin Tootoo has announced his retirement via a post on his personal Twitter account. Tootoo played 723 NHL games – 134 of those for the Devils from 2014-15 to 2015-16. With the Devils, the right wing scored 14 goals and ten assists for 24 of his 161 NHL points. He also racked up 174 of his 1,010 penalty minutes with New Jersey. Tootoo scored 65 NHL goals, including six power play goals and 96 assists.

The 35-year-old born in Churchill, Manitoba played 13 NHL seasons for the Devils, Predators, Red Wings and Blackhawks, the majority with Nashville. He famously battled addiction in the early part of his career, overcoming it to get clean (his autobiography All the Way is a great read and tells of his journey in a brutally honest way). He has stated on social media that he wishes to give back to the Indigenous community. Tootoo was, of course, the first player from Nunavut to play in the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers will be honoring him before their game tomorrow against the Predators. Although Tootoo never played for the Oilers organization, it speaks volumes about the respect he has that they are honoring him “for his great contribution to indigenous hockey & youth across (Canada)” (in the words of the team’s Twitter account). Good luck in retirement to a good man who enjoyed an inspirational career.

In final Devils news, Travis Zajac and Ben Lovejoy will not travel with the team to Philly. Both are suffering from what the team is calling lower body injuries. They will be reevaluated later on in the week, but will not be available for Saturday’s game.

Preseason: Devils Drop Both Games of a Split Squad Outing

The Devils opened their 2018-19 preseason with a pair of split-squad games tonight with half the team home against the Rangers and half up in Montreal taking on the Canadiens. There was a difference of a half hour between the games, as the Rangers puck drop was 7 PM while the Habs game started at 7:30 PM.

Rick Kowalsky was coaching the Devils in New Jersey with John Hynes staying at Prudential Center to observe both games from a management suite. Alain Nasredine coached the team up in Montreal, I am going to assume.

First the Rangers game. The Devils dropped the game to their arch rivals in overtime 4-3 despite holding three leads on the night. Nick Lappin scored two goals while John Quenneville completed two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hatrick with a goal and a fight.

Lappin lifted the seal on the new season when he scored just 5:14 into the game from Blake PIetila and Eric Gryba. The goal came when Pietila rushed up the left wing boards, beating a Rangers player to a loose puck. He fed a wide open Lappin in the slot, who did not miss, beating Rangers goaltender Alexander Georgiev to make it 1-0 Devils.

But in what would become a pattern throughout the night, New York tied things up at the 14:00 mark of the first when Lias Andersson scored his first of two, shorthanded on a breakaway, to tie things at one. The goal was unassisted.

Before the first period was out, however, the Devils would retake the lead. On the same Devils power play that Andersson scored shorthaned – a Steven Fogarty holding penalty – Quenneville scored a power play goal. It came with assists to Ty Smith and Brian Boyle at 14:52. It came when Quenneville curled around at the far half wall and gave to Smith at the point. They played catch before Smith gave the puck back to Quenneville who fired one from the top of the far faceoff circle to give the Devils back the lead, 2-1.

Prior to his goal, at the 5:34 mark of the first, Quenneville had come to the aid of a teammate who was rocked on a thunderous (but clean) hit by the Rangers’ Rob O’Gara. They dropped the mitts and Quenneville would get the extra penalty, a cross checking penalty, to put the Rangers on the power play. The two teams would seemingly beat a path to the penalty box all night, as the Rangers racked up 19 penalty minutes on the night while the Devils got 17 PIMs as a team.

The Devils entered the second period with a 2-1 lead, but the Rangers were on the power play. Egor Iavkolev had been called for slashing at 19:00 and just 17 seconds in to the new frame, Kevin Rooney went off for hooking. That gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 power play that the Devils would kill off.

But New York would tie the game up on the power play anyway at 9:12. Rooney was serving another hooking penalty when Pavel Buchnevich scored to tie the game at two apiece. He got an assist from Kevin Hayes. That was the only scoring of the second period, but the Rangers would switch their goalies out in the middle session. They took out Georgiev, who made 16 saves on 18 shots against and put in Marek Mazanec. He would go on to stop 8 of 9 Devils shots.

The Devils would make a goaltending change of their own at the beginning of the third period when they took out Keith Kinkaid who made 14 saves on 16 shots on goal through 40 minutes and swapped him for Cam Johnson. He ended up stopping 10 of 12. The Rangers finished the game with 28 shots on goal while the Devils were right there with them with 27.

The third period was a period of the power play units. First, Lappin scored his second of the game on a power play at the 5:24 mark from Michael McLeod and Smith (who also finished the night with two points – the two assists). It came when New York’s Tony DeAngelo was called for interference at 4:20 of the third and, with the extra man, Smith gave the puck to McLeod at the near half wall. He found a seam and made a nice pass to Lappin in the slot, who fired a snap shot by Mazanec to make it 3-2 Devils.

But less than a minute later, at 5:42, Gryba took a hooking call and the Rangers were back on the power play. Here, Andersson scored his second of the game from Chris Kreider and Hayes to tied things up at three. The Devils just could not shake the Rangers all night.

Midway through the third, Gryba would rock Boo Nieves with a big hit where their heads unintentionally collided. Nieves would leave the game for the Rangers’ locker room and would not return.

Taylor Hall had a chance to give the Devils the lead late when he fired a shot on a partial breakaway that beat Mazanek and trickled by him, but was swept away by a Ranger before it could cross the goal line.

Cam Johnson looked good late in the game with a few good saves, including a some early in the overtime period. Neal Pionk would win it for the Rangers in the OT off a nice feed from Buchnevich. Jesper Fast had the secondary assist. The Devils had fallen in this game 4-3.

In a game filled with penalties, New York ended the night 2-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 2-for-7 with the extra attacker. The Devils played the more physical game, out-hitting the Rangers 25 to 15. Sami Vatanen led the Devils in ice time in this game with 22:17 while Jesper Bratt led the forwards with 21:31. Vatanen also led in shots with four.

Now up to Montreal, where the Devils fell 3-1 to the Habs. This one saw the Devils grab the early 1-0 lead and then squander it by giving up three in the third period.

Blake Speers opened the scoring for the Devils in this one, scoring unassisted at 6:42 of the first shorthanded. Marcus Johansson was called for holding at 5:58 and, on the ensuing penalty kill, Speers picked off a point-to-point pass in the Devils end and raced up ice, beating Montreal goalie Anti Niemi to make it 1-0. Niemi would make eight saves on nine Devils shots in 30:56 of work while Charlie Lindgren played the rest of the game for the Canadiens and stopped all eight shots he faced.

For the Devils in net, Eddie Lack started and stopped all 13 shots he saw while Mackenzie Blackwood came in in the third period and made nine saves on twelve shots against. In total, the Devils had 17 shots on net while the Canadiens had 25.

The score remained the same through to the third when the wheels fell off for the Devils, all in a span of about two minutes. At 3:08, Victor Mete scored to tie it up from Michael Chaput and Jacob de la Rose. At 4:11, Charles Hudon scored to give the Habs the 2-1 lead and Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored an insurance goal at 4:40 from Rinat Valiev and Simon Despres to give us our final of 3-1.

Neither team scored on the man advantage, the Devils going 0-for-4 and Montreal going 0-for-3. Damon Severson led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 24:01 while Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 20:40. No player had more than two shots on goal for the Devils. Proof that the Devils want to see more from these two players by giving them more responsibilities.

A disappointing night (in terms of final score) for Devils fans, but the Rangers game in particular showed some signs that the younger kids might just have what it takes to compete and gave some hope. Next up, the Devils travel to Brooklyn for a preseason tilt against the Islanders on Thursday. The Rangers game was the lone home preseason game the Devils will play this year.

Binghamton Devils Edged By Phantoms in AHL Action

The NHL Network today aired a special American Hockey League game featuring the Binghamton Devils at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The Devils fell by a score of 5-3 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I figured I would give a little bit of a recap here on the blog since it was Devils related.

The game was a lot closer than the score looked, as the Phantoms took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute left in the game and then added an empty netter to top things off.

Lehigh Valley got the scoring kicked off when Cole Bardreau scored at 3:19 into the first period with assists to James de Haas and Radel Fazleev. Nick Lappin tied things up from Steven Santini and Kevin Rooney at 6:08. That made it 1-1 going into the first intermission.

That first period was played penalty free, which would not be the case later in the game, as both teams beat a path to the penalty box throughout the final two periods. The thing was, both team’s power play units would respond and put the puck in the net when they had to.

It started when Philippe Myers took a tripping call at 7:42 of the second. John Quenneville converted on that one at 9:41 from Jacob MacDonald and Christoph Bertschy. That was Quenneville’s eleventh AHL goal of the year and put Binghamton up 2-1.

The Devils, however, would take a penalty when Jan Mandat went off for tripping at 10:10. Three seconds into that penalty kill, Josh Jacobs of the Devils would go off for high sticking, giving Lehigh Valley a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Will O’Neill of the Phantoms would oblige on that one, scoring from Myers and Danick Martel at 11:56. The game was now tied up at two and that is where it would stand going into the second break.

A rare, at this point, even strength goal was scored 8:02 into the third period when Lehigh Valley’s Mikhail Vorobyev notched his eighth of the year from Reece Willcox and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to put the Phantoms up 3-2.

But this game was so back-and-forth that things would not remain that way for very long. At 13:07, Aube-Kubel was called for boarding, putting the Devils on the power play. Lappin would score his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage, getting assists from MacDonald and Bertschy and tying things at three.

That was where it would stay until, with 59 seconds left in the game, and things seemingly headed to overtime, Mike Vecchione was the hero for Lehigh Valley. He scored from Colin McDonald and Willcox to put the Phantoms up 4-3.

That goal was reviewed to see if the puck was kicked in by Vecchione, but the replay confirmed the call on the ice: it was a good goal. Lehigh Valley had the lead and the Devils quickly pulled their goaltender, Eddie Lack, for the extra attacker with about 45 seconds left in the contest.

The Phantoms added an empty net goal from Phil Varone (assists to McDonald and Bardreau) at 19:53 and that was all she wrote at 5-3.

Binghamton got good goaltending from Lack, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots against. Lehigh Valley also had the empty netter, making their shot total 28 for the game. The Phantoms’ Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves on 26 shots.

On the power play, the Devils were a perfect 2-for-2 while Lehigh Valley was 1-for-4.

Lappin, with his two goals and four shots on goal (which led Binghamton) was awarded the second star of the game. Jacob MacDonald of the Devils also had two points (both assists), as did Christoph Bertschy.

This game was a battle of two teams going in two different directions. Lehigh Valley is looking for their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth while Binghamton has been struggling in their first season in their new surroundings. They relocated this past offseason from Albany to Binghamton, where they replaced the Binghamton Senators – who moved to Belleville, Ontario.

The Devils are in sixth place in the seven team North Division while the Phantoms stand at first place overall in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms actually have more points than the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, but Toronto has four games in hand and has already clinched a playoff spot in the North Division despite that.

Devils Blow Out Sens; Shut Out by Isles

It was a tale of two games for the Devils tonight. They played two split-squad games, one at Summerside, Prince Edward Island in the Kraft Hockeyville Canada game against the Ottawa Senators and one that started an hour later at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York against the New York Islanders. They came away 1-1 on the night, beating the Senators 8-1 and losing to the Islanders, 3-0.

Now, obviously, the Devils had their “A” team playing at the Credit Union Place in PEI while the “JV,” so to speak, was playing down the North American coast in Brooklyn. But both games showed some very interesting things for fans to take in and digest.

Full disclosure: I did not get to see the game in Canada due to it being blacked out regionally down here on the NHL Network. I am again going by what I could scrounge up from the Internet. I did get to see the Islander game, as it was televised locally on MSG+, however.

Let’s start with the good news, shall we? The Devils defeated the Sens, 8-1 after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. According to Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website in her “10 Takeaways” column, Marcus Johansson scored “less than two minutes into the game.” She also said that Johansson had four points on the night, as he also had three assists.

Drew Stafford, Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville each had two goals for John Hynes’ squad while Nico Hischier also added one to give the Devils the boost. The Devils had a 7-0 lead when Mike Condon was relieved in goal by Andrew Hammond (a preseason thing, he was not chased, apparently).

Speaking of the goaltenders, Cory Schneider played the whole game and made 20 saves on 21 shots faced.

Meanwhile, in New York….

Geoff Ward was coaching the Devils’ “B” team and things did not go as smoothly against the Islanders. They fell 3-0, falling into some penalty trouble and being smothered in the shots on goal department.

Keith Kinkaid, the Long Island-native, made the start and played the entire game for New Jersey. He made 42 saves on 44 shots against. With an empty net goal, the Islanders would finish with 45 shots on goal. For New York, Thomas Greiss started and also played the whole game. He made 25 saves in the Islanders’ shut out win.

The Islanders took the early lead just 1:11 into the game when Brock Nelson scored from Josh Ho-Sang and Johnny Boychuk. Just that suddenly, it was 1-0 Isles and that was all they needed.

At the 12:02 mark of the first, the Devils’ Ben Thomson took on the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield in a good scrap that brought some energy to the game.

Then, at the 13:54 mark of the first, Joseph Blandisi was called for slashing, a not uncommon sight in this preseason with the crackdown on slashing, and the Islanders went on the power play. Mathew Barzal would score a nice goal, using his speed to slice through the Devils defense and making a good move around Kinkaid to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. John Tavares had the lone assist on the goal. That goal made New York 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils finished the night 0-for-1.

Late in the first period, a scary moment occurred when Michael McLeod of the Devils was helped off of the ice with an apparent leg injury. He was favoring his left leg and would not return.

The Devils’ best period was the second when they actually outshot New York and really tested Greiss. They missed on a 3-on-1 late in the period and he stopped Jimmy Hayes on a nice chance late in the period too.

The Devils would pull Kinkaid with a little over a minute left in the game and Johnny Boychuk would score the empty netter from Nikolay Kulemin and Cal Clutterbuck to put the game away at 18:41.

In the end, the Devils were outshot 45 to 25 and lost 52-percent of their faceoffs. But those were the only places where the Devils were outplayed on the stat sheet. They out hit the Islanders, 29 to 24, had 15 blocked shots to 13 for New York and only gave away the puck four times to the Isles’ 11.

In the end, despite losing in Brooklyn (and getting blanked to boot), the Devils outscored their opponents on the night, 8-4, which is a good sign for the big squad and gives Devils fans some optimism as they head into the season. They just may have opened some eyes in Canada.

Next up, the Devils head south to Washington on Wednesday for their final game of the preseason. That game will be televised on MSG+ and we will have a recap here for you.

A-Devils Ousted From Playoffs in Triple OT Epic

An era came to an end as the Albany Devils skated into the Ricoh Coliseum for game three of their first round playoff series against the Toronto Marlies. They fell, 2-1 in three overtimes, losing the series, three games to one and putting an end to the current era of Devils AHL hockey in the New York state capital.

Travis Dermott got the scoring underway at the 8:55 mark of the first period with assists to Kerby Rychel and Justin Holl. That would be Toronto’s last goal for about the next 100 minutes.

The Devils tied things up with a goal from Carter Camper, his second of the playoffs, assists to John Quenneville and Ben Sexton. The game was tied at one and that was the end of the scoring until the 6:43 mark of the third overtime, when Holl scored from Frederik Gauthier and Brendan Leipsic. That goal won the game for the Marlies and sent Toronto into the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The A-Devils had a chance to end things in the first overtime, when Toronto’s Rinat Vallev received a double minor for high sticking at the 12:52 mark. Albany would have four minutes to work with, but the Marlies killed it off, essentially sending the game into the second OT period. Overall, Albany went 0-for-3 on the power play with a single shot while Toronto was 0-for-2 with the extra man, mustering two shots on goal. The Marlies had their shot at ending things in the second OT when Ben Thomson was called for a hooking minor.

The real story of this game was the goaltenders. For the A-Devils, Mackenzie Blackwood made a whopping 58 saves on 60 shots allowed in 106:43 of ice time. He was named the game’s second star for his efforts. For Toronto, Kasimir Kaskisuo made 30 saves on 31 A-Devils shots in getting the win and was named third star of the game. Holl was named the game’s first star with his goal and assist.

So, with that, the Marlies advance deeper into the Calder Cup playoffs and the A-Devils cease to exist. They will move to Binghamton next season. Toronto will likely play the Syracuse Crunch, who defeated the St. John’s IceCaps three games to one, in the next round.

So, congratulations to the Toronto Marlies in a hard fought win and a good series. And good luck to the Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate as they begin their next chapter in a new city next season.

Steelheads Complete Sweep with 7-0 Win

The Mississauga Steelheads took home the Bobby Orr Trophy and will play for the OHL championship as they completed a four game sweep of the Peterborough Petes with a 7-0 win at the Hershey Centre tonight.

Owen Tippett scored from Trent Fox and Devils prospect Nathan Bastian at 8:29 of the first period and that was all they needed.

Ryan McLeod scored at 11:54 of the first with assists to his brother, Devils prospect Michael McLeod and Stefan LeBlanc. From there, the Steelheads got goals from Vili Saarijarvi (2:05 of the second), Jacob Moverare (9:20 of the second), Trent Fox (16:58 of the second), Michael McLeod (33 seconds into the third period) and Brendan Harrogate (17:18 of the third).

Matthew Mancina made 24 saves in getting the shutout, while Dylan Wells made 24 saves on 31 shots for Peterborough. Mancina was named the game’s first star. Saarijarvi was the second star and Fox was the third star.

Michael McLeod’s stat line saw him with the goal and assist for two points, a plus-3 rating and one shot on goal. He won nine of twelve faceoffs taken. Bastian had the assist for one point, was also a plus-3, had three shots on goal and won six of thirteen faceoffs taken.

With this win, the Steelheads claimed the Bobby Orr Trophy as winners of the OHL’s Eastern Conference and will face the winners of the Owen Sound Attack and the Erie Otters, who are battling for the Wayne Gretzky Trophy in the Eastern Conference, the OHL Finals and the chance to go play for the Memorial Cup. Owen Sound currently has a 2-1 series lead with game four being played tonight.

Congratulations to the Mississauga Steelheads and Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian on making it this far and good luck in the next round.

Meanwhile, in the AHL tonight, the Albany Devils and the Toronto Marlies got together in game three at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. That game took an overtime to finish, but the Marlies won 3-2, going up two games to one in their best-of-five first round series.

Brendan Leipsic scored first for Toronto at 3:49 of the first period, with assists to Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott. That put the Marlies up 1-0 in the first before John Quenneville tied things up with assists to Karl Stollery and Ben Sexton. That goal came on the power play, set up when Kapanen went off for tripping at 9:49. The goal came at the 10:16 mark of the first. Albany went 1-for-4 on the power play while Toronto was 0-for-2.

Toronto retook the lead at the 17:59 mark of the second period when Leipsic scored his second of the game from Kapanen and Frederik Gauthier.

That lead only lasted about 23 seconds. At the 18:22 mark, Carter Camper tied it up for the A-Devils (assists to Steve Santini and Blake Pietila). And that was the scoring in regulation.

The game winner came at the 45 second mark of the first OT when Colin Greening scored for the Marlies from Justin Holl to win the game and give Toronto the 2-1 series lead.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood made 22 saves on 25 Toronto shots in the 60:45 of game time. Opposing him, Kasimir Kaskisuo made 27 saves on 29 Albany shots.

Greening was named the game’s first star with the overtime game winning goal. Leipsic was named the second star with his two regulation goals and Kapanen was the third star with two assists.

Game four takes place in Toronto on Friday. The Marlies have a chance to wrap things up then.

Devils Win OT Thriller over Rangers

It is no secret that the New Jersey Devils are no longer in the playoff hunt. Their ten game skid back in late February/early March made sure of that. But they were playing the New York Rangers at Prudential Center tonight and you just had to know that the Devils would be up for this one. The Devils were at risk of getting swept by the Rangers in the season series for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

But they were not, getting a 3-2 overtime win over their Hudson River rivals. The two teams last met back on February 25 at Prudential Center and it was a barnburner that New York won in overtime. If this game was even half as exciting as that one, then the fans would be in for a good one.

In some roster movements, Miles Wood was back in after missing the Columbus game on Sunday with an injury. He would go on to play a big part in tonight’s game. The Devils are still without Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly due to injury. Cammalleri and Josefson have skated on their own but have not been cleared yet. Smith-Pelly is not skating yet and the word is that none of the three are close to returning. Blake Pietila and Dalton Prout were New Jersey’s healthy scratches.

Missing the game for the Rangers were Tanner Glass, Steven Kampfer, Kevin Klein, Brandon Pirri and Matt Puempel.

Another injured player for the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, who is missing with a hip injury. He has been out for the last five games. Due to this the goaltending matchup saw Antii Raanta go for the Rangers and Cory Schneider get between the pipes for the Devils. Raanta made 25 saves on 28 Devils shots for a .893 save percentage. Schneider made 38 saves on 40 Ranger shots for a .950 save percentage. Both goalies were amazing at times and kept the game in check.

On another note, 18 year-old Shane Daneyko, the son of “Mr. Devil” Ken Daneyko, sang the national anthem prior to the game. MSG+ aired his performance and he did a great job. Congratulations to both Daneykos, as I am sure that Ken is very proud of son Shane right now.

The first period saw no scoring but did see a total of 25 shots. The Rangers peppered Cory with 14 while the Devils scattered 11.

The game really kicked off in the second period. At 14:46, the Rangers’ Brendan Smith was called for tripping Beau Bennett. The Devils went on the power play and the young guys took over. The puck wound around to Pavel Zacha and he sent it down low to Joseph Blandisi. Blandisi then centered it to John Quenneville at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. He tapped it home for his first NHL goal and gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. Congratulations to John Quenneville on his first NHL goal and here’s hoping it is the first of many. That goal came at 15:16. The Devils 1-for-2 on the power play while the Rangers were 1-for-3.

But the Rangers had an answer for that. At 16:53, Oscar Lindberg scored from Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan McDonagh to tie things at one. It was a big period for both teams. Before the second frame was through, the Devils would retake the lead and all hell would break loose.

First the goal. At 18:22, Taylor Hall, who had been shaken up by a big hit after the Quenneville goal but did not leave the bench, took a pass from Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri had grabbed the puck on a nice turnover forced by a forechecking Travis Zajac. Hall received the pass and fired a shot from the same place Quenneville did as he was falling down. The puck went in just under the crossbar, no one really sure if it went in or not (including Hall), but the official signaled the goal and the Devils had taken a 2-1 lead.

After that goal, at 19:43, Wood took a hit from Nick Holden along the stanchion in the glass near the corner of the bench. He did not have the puck and immediately went for Holden when he got up. Three fights broke out on the ice in addition to Wood-Holden: Blake Coleman took on Jimmy Vesey and the Devils’ Nick Lappin also got into a scrap.

When the dust settled, Wood was given a fighting major, a ten minute misconduct and the extra two minute instigator penalty. That would be key, as the Rangers would convert on the power play they got from it. Also, Wood would be missing the first 17 minutes of the third period for the Devils. It showed when the Devils did not have his energy and speed on the ice, spending a good deal of the period in the Rangers’ zone.

The game tying goal came off the stick of Rick Nash off assists from Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei at 1:21 of the third period. This came just moments after Derek Stepan hit the post at the start of the third. The game was now tied at two and the Rangers seemed to be in control. The ice was tilted for much of the third and Mats Zuccarello hit the crossbar off of a faceoff late in the third where the puck was on end and he fired it, getting the iron.

But this game was destined for overtime. And what an overtime period it was! The game winner came at 4:05 of the three-on-three session when, seconds after Cory Schneider made a nice poke check on a Rangers shooter, Quenneville grabbed the puck and rushed up ice with Joseph Blandisi. The two criss-crossed through the neutral zone and, when Quenneville hit the Rangers’ blue line, he looked up and fed Blandisi, who was skating through the slot. Blandisi took the pass and moved to his backhand, beating Raanta to give the Devils a thrilling 3-2 win in overtime.

This goal came minutes after Hall had made a beautiful inside out move through the legs of the Rangers defender, only to be stopped on a save by Raanta.

So the Devils showed a lot tonight against their rivals. They are now a young team that has a lot of potential. They are still on pace to lose the most games a Devils team has lost since the 1988-89 season, but the future looked very bright tonight. The young guys came through when they were needed and they are starting to blossom.

Next up for the Devils is the equally young Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. The Devils will travel up to Air Canada Centre to meet a team that is on the verge of possibly making the playoffs. Fans in Toronto will be very excited, but little can beat tonight’s game. Hopefully the Devils do not have a let down game following one that they were so emotionally invested in.