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.