Flames Explode, Blow Devils Out 9-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Win Second Straight; Defeat Sabres 4-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nico Wins it in OT as Devils Top Wild

Back in December, the Devils came from three goals down to topple the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime. That night, Cory Schneider started and was pulled in favor of Keith Kinkaid, giving Kinkaid the W then. Fast forward two months and the script was flipped. The Devils still came from three goals down to win it in OT, but tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota, the goalie who came on in relief was Cory Schneider. When Nico Hischier’s (who coincidentally had the game winner that night against the Golden Knights) shot crossed the Wild goal line at the 3:19 of the OT period, Cory ended a winless drought that goes back to December of 2017. The Devils won 5-4.

Some roster moves to begin with. First, Miles Wood came off of injured reserve and played tonight. Blake Coleman was placed on IR with his injury, retroactive to February 10. Nick Lappin and Steven Santini were healthy scratches and Kurtis Gabriel and Eric Gryba slotted back in. Also, although he was okay after the hit he took last night in Chicago, Brett Seney was a game-time decision and did not play tonight.

In goal, Devan Dubnyk started for Minnesota and made 23 saves on 28 Devils shots for a .821 save percentage. The Devils countered with Keith Kinkaid. He stopped 13 of 17 faced for a .765 save percentage, getting chased following the fourth Wild goal in the second period. Schneider came on in relief and stopped all 15 shots he saw for a 1.000 save percentage. He was challenged and he did not break in getting his first win since December 27, 2017.

On special teams, the Devils were 1-for-4 on the power play with just three shots. Minnesota was 1-for-2 with just a single shot that they scored on on the power play.

It was a special night for Joey Anderson, as he was returning to Minnesota for the first time as an NHLer. He is a native of Roseville, Minnesota and went to college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (where he won an NCAA national championship). His family and friends were in attendance at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild had only won one game in February – the game at Prudential Center last weekend. The Devils were looking for revenge six days later in St. Paul.

The Devils were put behind the eight ball early on with Brad Hunt scoring on the power play at 6:07 of the first period. Damon Severson was called for cross checking Jason Zucker (who would be a thorn in the Devils’ side all night) to set up the man advantage. Ryan Suter passed from the point down low to Hunt, who cut in front of the Devils net and beat Kinkaid with a nice move to make it 1-0. Hunt is a seventh defenseman who plays on the Wild power play as a forward. Mikael Granlund had the secondary assist on the goal.

Just 3:41 later, some miscommunication behind the net between Kinkaid and the Devils’ defense led directly to a Minnesota goal. Kinkaid went behind the net to move the puck and hesitated, allowing Joel Eriksson Ek, the Wild forechecker, to come in, steal the puck and bury it on a wraparound. The goal was unassisted and made it 2-0 Minnesota.

The Devils finally got on the board just 26 seconds into the second frame when Marcus Johansson scored unassisted. The puck kind of bounced to Johansson just inside the Minnesota blue line. Johansson spun around and, with the puck on edge, shot it. He beat Dubnyk to cut the Wild lead in half to 2-1.

But just a few minutes later, at 2:33, Nick Seeler would give the Wild back a two goal lead. Nick Seeler shot through a screen from the top of the far faceoff circle and the puck redirected off of Gabriel in front as he tried to block the shot. Hunt and Kyle Rau had the assists and it was 3-1.

Following this goal, midway through the second, Gryba was struck by a puck on the chin, tipped up by Eric Staal inadvertently. Gryba went off for stitches, but would return.

Minnesota would take the three goal lead at the 7:19 mark of the second period when Suter and Jared Spurgeon moved the puck nicely up ice, giving it to Granlund who was able to snipe it up and over Kinkaid’s glove and just under the crossbar. Minnesota now had a 4-1 lead and Kinkaid was out. Cory came in and things were about to change. The Wild would not score again.

The comeback was stalled, however, when a Travis Zajac goal was called back for being played with a high stick. Severson took a shot from the point with 8:55 remaining in the second and Zajac tipped it by Dubnyk. The call on the ice was a good goal, however, Toronto got their look and saw that Zajac had tipped the puck with his stick above the crossbar, the marker for a high stick. The call was then reversed to no goal and the score remained 4-1.

But Will Butcher would get that elusive goal at the 18:10 mark of the second. A Jesper Bratt shot was redirected to Butcher by NIco Hischier. Butcher was all alone in the slot and took the loose puck, scoring to make it 4-2 before the second break.

The third period began with Kyle Palmieri scoring on the power play at 8:16. Spurgeon was off for high sticking Palmieri seven seconds earlier and Bratt won the offensive zone faceoff, tying up his man and Johansson jumped on the loose puck. He got it to the far side of the rink to Palmieri. Palmieri took the puck and wristed it by Dubnyk to make it 4-3.

The Devils were a little more dominating in the third period, as Minnesota took almost half the period to get their first shot on goal.

Then, the unlikely. At 17:16, Kenny Agostino goes cross ice in the Wild zone to Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy then proceeded to fire the puck through Dubnyk’s five-hole, looking like a real goal scorer in the process. Pavel Zacha had the assist on the goal that now had things all tied up at four.

When regulation ended, we were off to overtime. The Wild just dominated the puck in the extra session, with the Devils barely getting a touch at any point. But at 3:19, Palmieri took a shot from an odd angle that forced Dubnyk to make a save and not be able to control the rebound, which Hischier then promptly buried to give the Devils their first win of the road trip and Cory his first win in more than a calendar year.

Nico, with his third OT goal of the year, was named the game’s first star, while Johansson was the second with a goal and an assist. Hunt was the third star.

Statistically, the Devils were out shot 32-28 and out hit 28-16. Minnesota also blocked more shots at 17 to 14. The Devils did win 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had less giveaways at eight to Minnesota’s ten.

Damon Severson led all Devils skaters in TOI with 26:20 (including 4:55 on the PP – he did not see any shorthanded time). Johansson led the forwards with 23:59 (4:30 on the PP). Shots were led by Hischier and Palmieri who had four each, hits by Agostino, Wood, Bratt, Johansson and Severson with two each, blocks by Hischier, Zajac, Andy Greene, Butcher and Severson with two each and takeaways by Hischier, Agostino, Pavel Zacha, Johansson and Mirco Mueller with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils return home to play the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday in a 6 PM game. We will have coverage of that for you here. Enjoy your weekend and feel free to leave a comment in the section below if you wish.

Devils Dealt Big Loss in St. Louis

The St. Louis Blues entered the night as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, having won six in a row. They finished the night as the hottest team in the NHL, winning their seventh straight while Chicago’s winning streak fell by the wayside in Boston. The Blues absolutely demolished the Devils 8-3 tonight at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. It was the first time the Devils had given up eight goals since an 8-3 loss to Tampa back on October 30.

The Devils, who were looking for their third straight road win, made a late announcement that Blake Coleman would not play tonight as he was missing his first game of the season with an upper body injury. Nick Lappin slotted in in place of Coleman. Lappin played on the third line with Pavel Zacha and newcomer Kenny Agostino. With the debut of Agostino, Ryan Murphy was sent back to Binghamton to make room on the roster. Steven Santini and Drew Stafford were the healthy scratches for the Devils tonight.

The Devils have struggled for the last few seasons against St. Louis and so has Keith Kinkaid personally. He got the nod tonight and did not fare well, stopping 31 of 39 shots against. But when you are bombarded in shots, 20-6 in the first period alone, you are bound to have a rough go of it. He finished with a .795 save percentage. Opposing him was the NHL’s first star of the past week, the rookie Jordan Binnington. He came in with a 9-1-1 record in his young career. Binnington was not very busy but did make 20 saves on 23 Devils shots against for an .870 save percentage.

Although the Devils did not play well by any stretch of the imagination, the power play was 1-for-2 with four shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot as well. The penalty kill kept St. Louis 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots. The Blues had two shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.

The Blues scored early and often. Alex Pietrangelo scored just 5:08 into the game when he was left wide open on the left side of the rink and took a shot that was tipped in off of a Devils player, hitting a skate and beating Kinkaid. Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko had the assists on this one.

One minute and thirty-three seconds later, Ivan Barbashev scored to make it 2-0 when Kinkaid went behind the net, retrieved the puck and then promptly gave it away to Robert Thomas. Thomas shot on net and after a mad scramble in front, Barbashev put it in.

There was a glimmer of hope when, at the 10:30 mark, Agostino created a turnover in the Blues’ zone and found Pavel Zacha at the far faceoff circle with a backhand pass. Zacha then snapped the puck upstairs to make it 2-1 Blues. The assist was Agostino’s first point as a Devil in his very first game with the team.

From there, the wheels fell off for the Devils. Jaden Schwartz scored at 15:47 from Robert Bortuzzo and Tyler Bozak to make it 3-1 St. Louis. He shot through a screen and the puck tipped off of Zacha’s stick and up and over Kinkaid.

The second period began with the Blues scoring just 30 seconds in when Ryan O’Reilly was all alone in the middle, took a pass after Schenn intercepted a Devils pass, and scored to make it 4-1 Blues. Things were beginning to get ugly for the Devils.

About five minutes into the second, the Blues had seemingly scored again when Schwartz had a shot stopped by Kinkaid and then went crashing into the net to put home the rebound. The referee Wes McCauley waved the goal off, citing goalie interference. St. Louis coach Craig Berube used his coach’s challenge to have this reversed, but after a quick review, the call on the ice stood at no goal. The Devils had seemingly dodged a bullet, but that would not last long.

Mackenzie MacEachern made it 5-1 for real when he took a stretch pass from Pietangelo and scored on the breakaway. He was able to get behind Damon Severson to beat the Devils defense and beat Kinkaid glove side. Barbashev had the secondary assist on this one that came at 6:11 of the second.

St. Louis made it 6-1 before the second period was out when Bozak took a shot through traffic just as a Blues power play was ending. The puck deflected in off of Ben Lovejoy’s stick to give St. Louis the touchdown. Former Devil Pat Maroon was originally credited with the goal, but when it was clear that it went in off of Lovejoy’s and not Maroon’s stick, Bozak was awarded the goal. The assists went to Colton Parayko and Maroon. This one came at the 15:20 mark of the second period.

Maroon and Kurtis Gabriel would meet up before the end of the second as Gabriel went after Parayko and Maroon came to his teammate’s aid. The two grappled but did not fight. In the end, Gabriel was assessed a ten minute misconduct penalty and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Maroon received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The third period began, much as the second period did, with a St. Louis goal just 45 seconds in. This one off the stick of Pietrangelo four-on-four for his second of the game. He backhanded the puck over Kinkaid as he cut through the slot. The Blues had tacked on the extra point, it was now 7-1 St. Louis.

After five unanswered goals, the Devils finally got on the board again. This one was on a 5-on-3 power play. Vince Dunn was called for slashing Zacha 7:23 into the third and Bortuzzo was nabbed for interfering with Marcus Johansson at 7:48 to put the Blues down two men. Kyle Palmieri would convert to make it 7-2. It came off of a precision passing play by the Devils at 8:01 that saw Will Butcher go to Nico Hischier to Palmieri, who was in the slot and beat Binnington to break the Blues’ onslaught.

The Devils still had a few seconds on the 5-on-4 power play after that goal and the Blues’ Barbashev made the most of that. He scored shorthanded at 9:25 of the third from Alexander Steen and Parayko. This one occurred when the puck was shot over the Devils’ net and then retrieved and stuffed in near-side by Barbashev. That made it 8-2 Blues.

The Devils rounded out the scoring when Mirco Mueller found the back of the net unassisted for his first goal as a Devil. He snapped a wrist shot by Binnington at the 12:44 mark that deflected in off of a St. Louis player to make it 8-3 Blues. And that was the final.

Stats-wise, the Devils were out shot 39 to 23, won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Blues 25-7, had more blocked shots 20-9 and less giveaways at nine to the Blues’ four.

Minutes were distributed pretty evenly across the backend, but Andy Greene ended up edging by Butcher for time on ice with 20:58 (including 3:15 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led all the forwards with 20:13 played (2:02 on the power play and 2:08 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Zacha and Greene who each had three, hits were led by Agostino, Gabriel, Kevin Rooney and Eric Gryba with three each. Gryba also led in blocked shots with three. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Butcher and Lovejoy with one each.

Agostino’s final stat line read: one assist for one point, an even plus/minus and three hits in 13:06 of ice time (including 23 seconds of PP time) in his Devils debut. He also won 100-percent of the faceoffs that he took.

Next up, the Devils will have to put this one in their rearview mirror as they head up to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks, as noted, have been hot as well. Hopefully the Devils come out with a chip on their shoulder for this 8:30 PM game. We will see. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you wish below the article. They are always appreciated.

Devils Double Up Penguins 6-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palmieri, Metro Division Win 2019 All-Star Game

The 2019 NHL All-Star mini tournament was played last night at the SAP Center in San Jose. It featured another good showing from the Metropolitan Division in the divisional-based tournament-style game. The Metro won, defeating the Central Division in the final 10-5.

To refresh some memories, the game now consists of three mini games all within the context of a period in a larger game. So the first period/game (Central versus Pacific) set up one half of the final (the third period/game) while the second period/game (Metro versus Atlantic) gave us the second participant in the finals. Each period was split into two ten minute “mini periods” with the teams switching ends and goalies going into the new period. It was all contested three-on-three.

The first game, won by the Central 10-4, saw the Colorado Avalanche attendees dominate. Mikko Rantanen scored the opener and Gabriel Landeskog the second goal. Rantanen would go on to pot two in the first game while Landeskog had a hat trick. Other goal scorers for the Central were Roman Josi, Patrick Kane (with two), Mark Scheifele and Ryan O’Reilly. The Pacific got goals from hometown favorites Erik Karlsson (twice) and Brent Burns as well as Johnny Gaudreau. With that, the Central moved on to its first-ever All-Star Game final since the current format was adopted. The Pacific, much to the chagrin of the San Jose fans in the building, went home.

In goal for the Central, Pekka Rinne stopped eight of nine shots while Devan Dubnyk made 19 saves on 22 shots. The Pacific had 31 total shots. In goal for the Pacific, John Gibson made two saves on nine shots while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped six of nine. The Central ended with 18 shots on goal.

Overall, there were nine players on the Central with a multi-point game here.

In the second game, the Metro defeated the Atlantic in the Eastern Conference showdown. The Metropolitan Division won this one, 7-4, advancing to the finals to face the Central.

Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the game (his first of two) and Seth Jones also had two (with Kyle Palmieri getting a helper on his first one) in the Metro’s win. This was a see-saw matchup that saw the lead change hands a few times before the Metro really settled in. The other goal scorers for the Metro were Crosby’s Pittsburgh teammate, Kris Letang, Sebastian Aho and Cam Atkinson (Palmieri was playing on the third unit with a pair of Columbus players in Atkinson and Jones). The Atlantic got goals from Jack Eichel, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and John Tavares in a losing effort.

In goal, Henrik Lundqvist made five saves on seven shots while Braden Holtby stopped 11 of 13 for the Metro. The Atlantic finished up with 20 shots on net. Jimmy Howard and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced a combined 26 Metro shots and Howard made nine saves on 13 shots against while Vasilevskiy made ten saves on 13 shots as well.

It was on to the finals for the Central Division and the Metropolitan Division. Here, the Metro team switched their jerseys to the white aways.

Speaking of the jerseys, while they did not look all that nice, in my opinion, being mostly black and white with some “slate grey” thrown in as an accent, they did have some cool innovation. The Adidas-made jerseys were created in conjunction with Parley Ocean Plastic, which used recycled and upcycled marine waste plastic (waste such as plastic bottles that made their way to the oceans) to create the materials for the jerseys according to SportsLogos.net. It is a cool thing and really fits with the California/Silicon Valley theme of this All-Star Game. To use technology to help turn waste that could potentially damage our planet into something useful.

Anyway, on to our final. This one saw the Metropolitan come away with the $1 million in prize money that was to be divided among the members of the winning team. The Metro won this one 10-5. Mat Barzal kicked off the scoring followed by Claude Giroux, Letang, Palmieri and Crosby to build up a 5-0 lead for the Metro.

Landeskog would get the Central on the board and Rantanen would make it 5-2. Crosby would add another to make it 6-2 and O’Reilly would cut the lead in half to 6-3. But then the Metro would get three unanswered from Aho, Atkinson and another from Barzal (into an empty net) to make it 9-3. The Central would add two in a mini rally (another from Rantanen to make it 9-4 and one from Blake Wheeler to make it 9-5) and Atkinson would finish off the scoring with a goal from Jones to make it 10-5.

This game was unique in that it featured only the third penalty shot in All-Star Game history. Seth Jones took it when he was hauled down by Patrick Kane with 4:09 to go in the game. He would not score and, in fact, no one has ever converted on a penalty shot in All-Star play.

In goal, Rinne and Dubnyk faced 22 shots combined from the Metro, with Rinne stopping six of ten and Dubnyk six of 11. For the Metro, Lunqvist stopped all six shots he saw and Holtby made 12 saves on 17 shots as the Central Division threw 23 shots at Metro goaltending total.

Crosby took home the Most Valuable Player honors with two goals and three assists for five points in this game plus two goals and an assist in the Atlantic game. He finished with five goals and eight points in the game as a whole. Palmieri finished the game with a goal and an assist for two points in his first ever All-Star showing.

Those two will get it on Monday as the Devils head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins then. We will have that for you right here. Until then, enjoy your weekend everyone!

Palmieri Participates in 2019 NHL Skills Competition

The 2019 NHL Skills Competition was presented last night from San Jose. There was, as usual, a full slate of events with Devils All-Star Kyle Palmieri taking part in the Shot Accuracy event. The winner of each event would take home $25,000. We had a few repeat winners from years past in a few events.

After the player introductions, which were done by divisional team, the Skills Competition was off an running. Up first was the Fastest Skater event featuring Kendall Coyne Schofield of the US Women’s National Team (she became the first-ever woman to compete in the NHL Skills Competition), finishing with a time of 14.346, Miro Heiskanen (Dallas Stars – 13.914), Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes – 14.526), Elias Petterson (Vancouver Canucks – 13.930), Cam Atkinson (Columbus Blue Jackets – 14.125), Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres – 13.582), Mat Barzal (New York Islanders – 13.780) and your winner for the third straight year, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers with a winning time of 13.378.

The Puck Control event was next. This one consists of three parts: the stickhandling, cone control and the gates. Stickhandling is through a series of pucks set up in a straight line that the players had to stickhandle through and the cone control features players carrying the pucks around pylons. The gates sees each player trying to lift the puck through lighted gates of three varying heights.

Patrick Kane was first and the Blackhawks All-Star finished with a time of 28.611 seconds. Petterson was next finishing in 43.622 seconds. Jeff SKinner of the Sabres finished the course in 35.407 while Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets completed it in 32.161. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche had a time of 33.425, Claude Giroux of the Flyers finished it in 30.270 seconds and John Tavares of the Maple Leafs in 35.210. The winner for the second straight year, though, was Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames with an amazing time of 27.045 seconds. He had less trouble with the gates portion of the event, which allowed him to finish with such a quick time.

The goalies got in on the action as the Save Streak event was next. This one saw goalies facing consecutive breakaways from members of the opposing division come at them in waves. They basically had to stop as many shots as they could facing the eight shooters. The division captains went last and if they were stopped, the streak would continue for as long as the goalie could fend off the shots.

Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators was first versus the Pacific Division and finished with a streak of two. Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning went next, setting the early standard against the Metro Division. He made eight straight saves for the early lead. Kyle Palmieri was stopped on his attempt as a shooter. John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks was next against the Central Division. He finished with a streak of three. Braden Holtby of the Capitals made two straight saves against the Atlantic Division shooters.

In the next round of goalies, Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild made seven straight saves against the Pacific Division, nearly tying Vasilevskiy’s top record. Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings was next, stopping two Metropolitan Division shooters. Palmieri was stopped for the second save in that streak.

The defending champ, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights was next and stopped six straight Central Division stars, which meant that we would not get a repeat champ in this event.

Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers would go on to win it, stopping twelve Atlantic Division All-Stars. Lundqvist is the oldest All-Star participating in the game and he came away with the victory in this event.

The Premier Passer event was next and this one is a little bit tricky for the players. The three parts are the breakout pass, the mini nets (which saw players having to saucer pucks into small nets set up behind obstacles – a hard proposition which is very hard and made for some tedious moments watching on TV) and the target passing.

Erik Karlsson of the hometown Sharks was first up. He finished the course with a time of 1:58.824. That time should tell you what we are dealing with in terms of the difficulty here. It took Mikko Rantanen of the Avs 2:17.379 to finish, Sebastian Aho of the Hurricanes finished in 1:18.530 while Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues finished in 1:25.897. Thomas Chabot of the Ottawa Senators completed it in 1:40.568. Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers was next with the eventual winning time of 1:09.088. Roman Josi of the Predators finished in 1:47.128 and Keith Yandle of the Florida Panthers was done in 1:34.611.

The Hardest Shot competition was next up and this one is pretty straight forward. Seth Jones of the Blue Jackets kicked the first round off with a 99.4 MPH shot. John Carlson of the Caps hit 102.8 for his eventual winning shot. Steven Stamkos of the Lightning hit 96.2 MPH and Brent Burns of the Sharks missed the net.

In the second round, Burns hit 100.6 MPH, Stamkos 93.1 MPH, Jones 95.1 MPH and Colonia, New Jersey-native Carlson, 100.8. Carlson won with his first shot’s 102.8 MPH mark.

The final event of the evening was the Accuracy Shooting which featured Palmieri. David Pastrnak of the Bruins won this one with a time of 11.309. Palmieri went second and posted a 20.209 time. Drew Doughty of the LA Kings finished in 13.501, Auston Matthews (who switched from his Maple Leafs jersey into a Patrick Marleau All-Star jersey to honor his teammate, who used to play for the Sharks) posted a time of 31.256, Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets finished in 18.585 while Kris Letang of the Penguins got a 12.683 mark – just off the pace Pastrnak had set. Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning completed the contest in 19.076 and Joe Pavelski of the Sharks finished with a time of 14.423.

Overall, it was a great night of action and congrats to all of the All-Stars participating. Tomorrow we will have the actual All-Star Game recap up for you with coverage of how Kyle Palmieri does.

Offense Explodes, Devils Outlast Blackhawks 8-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devils Battle, But Lose to Stars 5-4

The Devils battled back from two two-goal deficits only to give up a goal late and fall to the Stars 5-4 in Dallas. The Devils were looking for a fourth straight win for the first time since the beginning of the season, but were denied thanks to two goals each from Miro Heiskanen and Tyler Seguin.

It has been an eventful week so far in Dallas, one that began with their CEO publicly and profanely calling out the Stars’ two best players, Seguin and Jamie Benn, and ending with the announcement that the city would host the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl.

In Devils news, Taylor Hall was placed on injured reserve retroactive to December 23 as per Amanda Stein on Twitter. Because it is retroactive to December 23, Hall can be brought back at any time, he did not, however, make the trip with the team to Dallas. Blake Pietila and Egor Yakovlev were recalled from Binghamton of the AHL. They were both healthy scratches joining Mirco Mueller.

Hall was also named the Devils’ representative to the 2019 NHL All-Star Game at San Jose later this month. Kyle Palmieri was also named a potential injury replacement as per Steve Cangialosi on Twitter. Congratulations to both of them on this well earned honor.

Between the pipes, the Devils went back to Mackenzie Blackwood for their first game of 2019. Blackwood was under siege most of the night from Dallas, stopping 35 of 40 shots on him. Facing him was Ben Bishop, someone who the Devils have had some trouble with of late. He stopped 30 of the 34 shots thrown his way.

Kyle Palmieri scored the Devils’ first goal of the new year just 3:41 into the first, his 20th of the season and also his 100th in a New Jersey Devils uniform. It came after Travis Zajac was able to hold the blue line for the Devils, get the puck to Andy Greene, who made a nifty pass to Palmieri. Palmieri then tipped the pass into the Dallas net to make it 1-0. Unfortunately for the Devils, they would lose Greene to injury later in the game.

At the 12:31 mark, Benn responded for the Stars as he scored off a pass from Alexander Radulov, who had gone wide around the net while shielding the puck and passing to Benn in the slot. Benn scored and ended Blackwood’s shutout streak at 135:26, tying the game at one. Benn, too, would be lost for the game for Dallas after taking a hit from Miles Wood in the second period. John Klingberg had the secondary assist on his goal.

That hit came at 2:05 of the second when Wood would draw a five minute major for interference against Benn. The teams would play 4-on-4 as Esa Lindell and Stefan Noesen were off for roughing and John Klingberg of the Stars was called for cross checking. Once those three minor penalties ended, Dallas would be on a three minute power play (the Wood call).

At the 3:21 mark of the second period, while 4-on-4, Miro Heiskanen used a head fake and a deke to skate around Blackwood to make it 2-1 Stars. He got assists from Tyler Pitlick and Roman Polak.

By 6:38, the minors had expired and the Wood power play kicked in. With Dallas up 5-on-4, Tyler Seguin sniped one by Blackwood from Radulov and Klingberg. That goal made it 3-1 Stars.

On the power play for the night, the Devils ended up 1-for-4 with nine shots. Dallas was 1-for-3 with six shots as well as two shorthanded shots.

The Devils were down by two but the comeback was on once Jesper Bratt grabbed a loose puck off the rebound of a Nico Hischier breakaway at 11:08 of the second. The puck was on end and Bratt was able to shoot it by Bishop to cut the lead to 3-2 Stars.

But the Stars would grab back the two goal lead when Seguin scored his second of the game at 12:24 from Radulov and Valeri Nichushkin. Seguin was able to roof a pass from Radulov by Blackwood to make it 4-2 Dallas.

The Devils looked down and out, but this recent three game winning streak has really energized the team and has them more confident than ever and it showed. Drew Stafford made it 4-3 when he broke in on a 2-on-1 with Brett Seney and went to a backhand-forehand move to beat Bishop. Will Butcher had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 4-3 at 17:21.

And amazingly, the Devils would tie things before the end of the second period. It came when the Devils were on the power play due to Heiskanen going off for a holding call against Bratt at 18:09. With the Devils on the man advantage, Brian Boyle redirected a Butcher shot from the point to tie the game at four. Zajac had the other assist and the game was knotted going into the second intermission.

But the game winner would come just 6:27 into the third period when Heiskanen scored his ninth of the year and second of the game from Roope Hintz to give us our final of 5-4. That goal came on just as a delayed penalty was about to be called on the Devils.

New Jersey would pull Blackwood with about 1:30 remaining in regulation but were stopped again and again by the Stars. The final horn sounded and the Stars had won, with Heiskanen being named the first star, Seguin the second and Radulov, who had three assists, the third.

Final team stats saw the Devils outshot 40 to 34 (at one point, the Devils went 22:46 without a shot on goal in this game), the Devils win 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs, the Devils out hit the Stars 31-23, and out block Dallas, 17-14. Dallas had more giveaways at 13 to the Devils’ 11.

individually, Sami Vatanen led all skaters with 23:17 of ice time (including 2:12 of PP time and 27 seconds of PK time) while Zajac led the forwards with 21:08 (4:12 of PP/1:49 of PK). Zajac and Boyle co-led in shots with five apiece, Blake Coleman, back in his old stomping grounds, led in hits with seven. Zajac led in blocked shots with five and Nico Hischier led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils will travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Coyotes in the two team’s first meeting of the year. That game is at 9 PM eastern and we will have all of the coverage for you right here.