Devils Demolished by Leafs, 7-2

The gap between the Devils and some of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference has never been more apparent than the games between them and Tampa Bay and against Toronto. Tonight they fell 7-2 to the Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center.

The Devils had one subtraction from their lineup and two additions. The team put goaltender Cory Schneider on injured reserve with an abdominal strain. In his place, Mackenzie Blackwood was recalled from AHL Binghamton. He would see action tonight following a potential injury to Keith Kinkaid that bears keeping an eye on. The other addition was Taylor Hall returning to the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower body injury.

Toronto was coming in with two faces the Devils did not see in their trip there on November 9. Auston Matthews was injured when New Jersey visited the Leafs last and William Nylander was still holding out as a restricted free agent. Matthews is now healthy and Nylander signed a contract on December 1. They would both be in the lineup tonight for Toronto. Lucky Devils.

For the Devils, with Hall slotting back in up front, Drew Stafford was back as a healthy scratch joining d-men Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev.

In goal, the Danish goalie Frederik Andersen went for the Maple Leafs, making 27 saves on 29 shots against. For the Devils, Keith Kinkaid started and played the first two periods, making 16 saves on 21 shots. He collided with Ben Lovejoy midway through the second and, though he made the save on the play, seemed a bit shaken up. That might not have been the reason he gave the net up to Blackwood, but it could have contributed. Blackwood, as mentioned, came on in the third period, making his NHL debut. He stopped eight of the ten shots he faced, including his first NHL save: a save on a breakaway by Zach Hyman. Not a bad start. He also became the first Devils goalie since Martin Brodeur to wear the number 29 in a game.

The Devils fell behind early, at 6:01 when John Tavares scored from Nazem Kadri and Matthews. Nico Hischier opted not to shoot on a 2-on-1 just prior to the play and had the pass broken up by the Leafs. Toronto then went down the ice with a 3-on-1 when Tavares scored. It was 1-0 Toronto.

The lead would double to 2-0 1:57 later when Matthews scored a controversial goal unassisted. He pushed Damon Severson into Kinkaid and, when Kinkaid was unable to hold on to a puck, Matthews was right there on the doorstep, all alone to sweep it in. Severson had tried to clear the puck from the crease with his hand, but only served to give it directly to Matthews. The Devils used their coach’s challenge, alleging goalie interference. The call on the ice of good goal stood. The explanation was that because Severson could play the puck, incidental contact with the goalie was allowed and it was a good goal.

One thing that Ken Daneyko brought up on the MSG+ broadcast was that Matthews pushing Severson in the first place could have been interference on Severson since he did not have the puck. But that went uncalled and the goal stood, it was now 2-0 Leafs.

The ageless Patrick Marleau would make it 3-0 at 13:38 when he scored from Kadri (who ended the game with three assists and was named the game’s third star) and Travis Dermott. The Devils could not clear the puck from the zone and Kadri centered the puck to Marleau. His initial shot was saved by Kinkaid but Marleau put the rebound by to triple their lead.

The Devils would get on the board late in the first period when Sami Vatanen scored from Brian Boyle to make it 3-1 at 18:44. Vatanen let a shot go from the point that just cleanly beat Andersen under the crossbar and down. It was a cannon of a shot and seemed to give the Devils some hope as the game was following a similar pattern to Friday’s comeback versus the Golden Knights.

The pattern looked to followed even closer when Mitch Marner scored just 1:45 into the second period. He scored when Tavares hit the crossbar and the rebound came right to him. The disappointing thing about this goal is that the Devils had spent the first 1:30 or so of the second period applying pressure in the Toronto zone but could not score. This goal put the Devils down by three again at 4-1.

With that assist, Tavares had his second point of the night, a goal and that assist. He was named the game’s second star. Auston Matthews, also with a goal and an assist, was the game’s first star.

Morgan Rielly made it 5-1 with 0.8 seconds remaining in the period when he scored on a nice shot from the point that beat Kinkaid clean. Kadri and Connor Brown had the assists on that goal. The blowout was on.

The Devils would gain a bit of retribution when Nico Hischier scored at the 14:47 mark of the third. Hall won a puck battle behind the Leafs’ net, came out from behind and whipped a pass to Nico. Hischier did not miss on this one, burying it to make the score 5-2. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist. There was little celebration on the Devils side of things, however.

Tyler Ennis would add two goals to cap things off for the Leafs, scoring at 16:28 from Brown and Par Lindholm and at 18:30 from Jake Gardiner and Brown to make it 6-2 and then 7-2, which was our final. Those were the first two goals let up by Blackwood in his NHL career.

So for the Devils, it was not a good night to say the least. On special teams, both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play as the Devils did not register a shot with the extra skater. The Leafs had one shot on the power play and one shorthanded. New Jersey actually finished the game on the power play as Toronto was called for delay of game with just about a minute to go in the game.

Statistically, the Maple Leafs out shot the Devils 31-29 while the Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also out hit Toronto 14-6. The Leafs had more blocked shots (nine to the Devils’ six) and the Devils had twice as many giveaways at 12 to the Leafs’ six.

Individually, Vatanen led all Devils skaters with 22:13 TOI (including 2:42 of power play time and 1:32 of PK time). Travis Zajac led all forwards with 19:05 of time on ice (2:12 on the PP/ 3:23 killing penalties). Shots on goal were led by Miles Wood with five, hits were led by Blake Coleman with four, blocked shots by Severson with two and takeaways by Hall with two.

Next up, the Devils will travel to Ohio on Thursday to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils have now lost ten of their last 12 games and will look to right the ship in Columbus. That will be a tough hill to climb as the Jackets are one of the better teams in the Metropolitan Division. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM and we will have coverage for you right here.

Devils Complete Comeback, Defeat Golden Knights in OT

In what was a wild game at The Rock last night, the Devils finally won a game in extra time, defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in the team’s second meeting ever in Newark.

It was a crazy game that involved the Devils starting goalie being chased before the first period was even over and an overtime goal that would be reviewed before the game was finally ruled over.

The Devils would be without their biggest star for the game. Taylor Hall missed due to “lower body soreness” as he left practice early yesterday and this morning with the injury. Stefan Noesen was also placed on injured reserve. In the MSG+ pregame, it was said that he was suffering from an illness. Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches. Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense while John Quenneville was recalled from Binghamton to fill in up front.

The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider start for the Devils against Marc-Andre Fleury. Schneider faced seven shots, letting in three of them. Keith Kinkaid came in in relief with about ten minutes to play in the first period. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots that he saw. Vegas ended the game with a total of 22 shots on goal. Fleury stopped 37 of the Devils’ 42 shots. You read that right. The Devils peppered Fleury with almost twice as many shots as the Knights fired at Devils goaltending.

But, as mentioned, early on, the Golden Knights scored early and often. Alex Tuch scored at 1:19 of the first from Oscar Lindberg and Nate Schmidt. That gave Vegas a 1-0 lead on just two shots on goal. William Karlsson found the back of the net a few minutes later at 7:45 from Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden McNabb. That made it 2-0. William Carrier would put Vegas up 3-0 at the 9:23 mark of the first from Ryan Reaves on a goal that kind of handcuffed Cory from a few feet out and that he ended up knocking into his own net with his catching glove. That was the goal that chased Schneider back to the locker room.

Vegas nearly scored on Kinkaid late in the first when the puck was ruled to not have crossed the goal line completely. Credit Kyle Palmieri with clearing the puck out from behind Kinkaid. The play was reviewed, but the call on the ice stood as no goal.

It was an almost insurmountable 3-0 Vegas lead heading into the second. But the Devils would begin to chip away. It began when New Jersey got on the board. Just 2:28 into the new period, Colin Miller took an interference call against Quenneville. That set up a Devils power play and Travis Zajac would connect at 2:59. It came when Jesper Bratt found Marcus Johansson down low below the Vegas goal line. He tic-tac-toed it to Zajac, set up in the slot, and Zajac scored. That made it 3-1.

But just after that goal was scored, Palmieri was nabbed for slashing Reilly Smith at 3:24. It was a somewhat weak call to say the least, but it stood and the Devils were going to have to kill a penalty off. It would only take 33 seconds on the ensuing man advantage for Karlsson to make it 4-1. As the Devils’ goal was being announced over the PA system, Karlsson scored his 13th from Smith and Marchessault.

Overall, on the power play, the Devils were 1-for-5 with seven shots while the Golden Knights were 1-for-3 with three shots (all on Kinkaid). The Devils were down by three in the game again. But amazingly, the comeback was about to begin.

At the 10:21 mark of the second, Miles Wood cut the Vegas lead in half when he scored from Blake Coleman and Zajac. It happened when the puck pin-balled around the Knights’ goal mouth before finally ending up on the stick of Wood in the slot. He snapped off a shot that beat Fleury glove side to make it 4-2 Vegas.

In the third period, Kyle Palmieri would draw the Devils to within one when he scored unassisted at the 6:24 mark. That one came when Vegas won the draw deep in their defensive zone, but could not corral the puck. Palmieri single-handedly then jumped on the loose puck and, with Deryk Engelland draped all over him, scored on a wraparound. That one made it 4-3.

The Devils would tie things up at the 14:55 mark when Brett Seney picked a great time to score his third career NHL goal, unassisted to tie things up at four apiece. This one occurred when the Devils collapsed down low, forcing a scramble in front of the Vegas net before the puck was accidentally swept behind Fleury by Knights defenseman Nick Holden. Amazingly and against all odds, the Devils had tied it up.

But overtime has been no sure thing for New Jersey as they had yet to win one this season once regulation ended.

They would waste no time tonight, however. Just 41 seconds into the OT, Nico Hischier scored from Johansson to give the Devils their first overtime win of the 2018-19 season. It happened when Nico and Johansson criss-crossed into the Vegas zone, Johansson fed Hischier on a cut towards the net and Nico shot, but the rebound was accidentially put into his own net by Karlsson as he was trying to clear. The Devils had done it and without one of their best overtime performers too, in Hall.

It was a seemingly hard-earned two points that were in jeopardy of being taken away. The goal was reviewed by Toronto to see if the Devils had gone in offside. The call on the ice – good goal – ended up standing and the Devils were given the victory. It was a good thing too, since the Golden Knights had completely left the ice just after the goal was scored. Should they have had to have been called back out of the locker room, it would have been a strange sight.

Hischier was named the game’s first star, Zajac the second and Vegas’ Karlsson the third.

So, in getting the win, the Devils outshot the Knights 42-22, won 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had more giveaways at nine to the Knights’ four. Vegas out hit the Devils 15-12 and blocked more shots at 11-8.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:08 of ice time (4:42 on the power play, 48 seconds shorthanded) as his role continues to grow more and more. Hischier led the forwards with 19:47 (4:24 on the PP and 31 seconds on the PK). Palmieri led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with four, Andy Greene led in blocks with two and takeaways were led by Zajac, Ben Lovejoy and Sami Vatanen, who each had one.

Next up, it is the back half of another back-to-back as the team travels to Nashville to take on the Predators in less than 24 hours after I post this. That game is at 8 PM tomorrow and we will, of course, have the recap for you right here.

Devils Double Up Kings, Win 6-3

California has not been kind to the Devils over the last few years. They are 1-5-0 against the state’s three NHL clubs in the last two years on the road. The only team they have beaten in that span was the Los Angeles Kings. That continued tonight as the Devils defeated LA, 6-3 at Staples Center.

Firstly, I would like to get some house cleaning out of the way. Some news I did not mention here on the blog in the last few days saw Chuck Fletcher, who was serving as a special assistant to Ray Shero since this past summer, has left the team. He is the new general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, moving down the Turnpike to take over the job last held by Ron Hextall who was abruptly fired last week.

Now to the topic at hand. The Devils were looking forward to this California trip as a change of scenery. They had not won a road game since November 15 and needed this trip to regroup. The Kings have been on a downward trend this year, currently standing in last overall in the NHL. They fired coach John Stevens last month and are trying to move forward. The Devils let them hang in there, but were able to put them away when they needed to and won the game.

For the Devils, roster-wise, Mirco Mueller was out as a healthy scratch on defense while Egor Yakovlev got to play another game (he scored his first career NHL goal against Tampa in the last game). Steven Santini and Drew Stafford were the other scratches. LA was missing our old friend Ilya Kovalchuk, out on injured reserve with ankle surgery.

In goal, it was right back to Keith Kinkaid for the Devils following a rough outing against the Lightning. He made 29 saves on 32 Kings shots. Keith was good tonight, stopping Tyler Toffoli on a breakaway late in the second period, shutting the door when Toffoli tried to go five hole. Facing him was Jonathan Quick, who made 29 saves on 34 shots against. The Devils also had an empty net goal and thus finished with 35 shots total.

The Devils got the scoring going at the 13:49 mark of the first period on the power play. Kyle Palmieri scored his first of two on the night en route to being named the game’s second star. It came when Dion Phaneuf was called for high sticking Nico Hischier at 12:01. While on the man advantage, Taylor Hall faked a shot at the top of the far faceoff circle before passing to Palmieri at the near faceoff dot. Palmieri then roofed one over Quick to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. Will Butcher had the secondary assist.

With that power play goal, the Devils had just two goals in 21 power play attempts. On the night they were 1-for-2 with five shots. LA was 0-for-1 with no PP shots but did register a shorthanded shot.

The Kings would not wait long to tie things up. At the 15:41 mark of the first, Brendan Leipsic scored off a shot that he just snapped by Kinkaid. Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez had the assists on that one. That goal came just moments after a non-call on an Anze Kopitar high stick on Kyle Palmieri. With that, we finished the first period where we began it: tied.

But it would only take the Devils 25 seconds into the second to retake the lead. In what would become a wild second frame, Travis Zajac scored unassisted to make it 2-1. It came when Blake Coleman had a couple of swipes at scoring before the puck trickled to Zajac in the slot. He fired and beat Quick and New Jersey had retaken the lead.

However, that would not last long either. At the 6:59 mark of the second, Drew Doughty, Austin Wagner and Adrian Kempe broke in to the Devils’ zone on an odd man rush. Kempe would tip a Doughty pass by Kinkaid to make it 2-2. Wagner had the secondary assist and we were tied up once again.

Then, at the 10:57 mark, Palmieri notched his second of the night from Hall when, on the rush and with the puck wobbling on his stick, Palmieri used Muzzin as a screen and shot through him to beat Quick and make it 3-2 Devils.

The Devils would double up their lead less than two minutes later at 12:28 when Butcher scored from Miles Wood and Zajac. This was a weird one as Butcher’s shot was actually redirected by a Kings player – Phaneuf – changing direction on Quick and clearly handcuffing him.

The Devils now had a two goal lead and that would seem to be in jeopardy with 6:23 remaining in the period when Muzzin had seemingly scored. He shot from a strange angle along the far part of the goal line and the puck seemed to go under the crossbar and in drop down in. Play continued for a few seconds until the Devils touched the puck and a review was initiated by Toronto. The call on the ice was no goal and replays showed that the puck hit the crossbar without entirely crossing the line, hit the far post and came out. The result was that the call on the ice stood: no goal. It was still 4-2 New Jersey.

However, that would not last much longer after the non goal. At 17:37, Kyle Clifford scored unassisted after Kinkaid made a save, then poked the rebound directly to Clifford, who fired one behind him. Kinkaid was trying to get the puck over to Damon Severson, but some miscommunication led to Clifford scoring. The Kings were back within one at 4-3.

That is where it was heading into the third period, where the Devils would finally break away. At 11:06, Nico Hischier scored from Sami Vatanen and Hall to add an insurance goal and make it 5-3. Nico redirected a Vatanen shot by Quick to score this one. This sort of made up for earlier in the first period when Nico had an empty net to shoot on and Kings defenseman Derek Forbort blocked his shot and made a remarkable save for Quick, who was out of position.

Quick would be pulled with about 1:50 left in the game for the extra attacker and, after a few icings and missed opportunities, Blake Coleman would finally bury a shot from long distance into the empty net to give us our final of 6-3. Andy Greene and Severson had the assists on the empty netter.

In the end, four Devils players had multiple point nights: Palmieri (two goals), Zajac (one goal, one assist), Hall (three assists) and Butcher (one goal and one assist). Hall was named the game’s first star. Los Angeles’ Kempe was the third star.

The Devils had a better night in the faceoff circle, winning 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Kings 23 to 18 and had less giveaways at 12 for LA and eight for the Devils. The Kings had more blocked shots at 17-12.

Sami Vatanen led all skaters in time on ice with 24:39 (1:28 on the power play and 16 seconds of shorthanded time) while Hall led the forwards with 19:34 (2:29 of PP time). Vatanen also led in shots on goal with six while Coleman led in hits with seven. Blocks were led by Greene and Severson who each had two and takeaways were led by Hall with one.

Next up, the Devils continue on in California by traveling to Anaheim. The Ducks have been hot of late, winning five straight. That game is an earlier start at 8 PM Eastern and we will have it for you right here.

Backstrom Hat Trick, Holtby Stifle Devils in Washington

It has not been easy for the Devils on the road this season. Put them up against a surging defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, and you had a bit of a recipe for disaster. The Devils fell 6-3 at Capital One Arena tonight.

The good news, however, is that that score was not fully indicative of how the Devils played. They played well, but just ran into a brick wall in Caps’ goalie Braden Holtby. When the Devils beat Washington 6-0 back in October, they faced backup Pheonix Copley. Tonight, they got Holtby and he was brilliant. He stopped 33 of 36 Devils shots, but that only tells half the story. Especially for a period of time in the mid-to-late second period, the Devils threw everything but the kitchen sink at Holtby and he was consistently equal to the task. He stopped several key breakaways by the Devils, including one by former Capital Marcus Johansson and two by Brett Seney.

Keith Kinkaid went for the Devils and stopped 25 of 29 shots he faced. Kinkaid was just as good, but did have one mental gaffe that led directly to a goal in the second period, which we will get to.

Some roster moves to deal with before we get started, as the Devils placed J-S Dea on waivers in order to try to get him to clear and send him down to Binghamton. He was reclaimed by Pittsburgh off of waivers. Coming up to take his place from Binghamton was Mikey McLeod. The Devils’ 12th overall pick in the 2016 Draft made his NHL debut tonight slotting in for Stefan Noesen, who was a healthy scratch. Drew Stafford and Egor Yakovlev were the other scratches. Johansson was back after missing one game due to injury and Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense. Joey Anderson is week-to-week with a broken ankle suffered a few games ago when he crashed into the net. He had surgery on the ankle.

McLeod finished the game with an even plus/minus rating, won 17-percent of his faceoffs all in 5:36 of ice time (including four seconds on the power play). He had three goals and seven assists in the AHL this season so far for a total of ten points.

A little bit of fun trivia before we get started as the linesmen for the game, Brandon Gawryletz and Travis Gawryletz are brothers. According to Steve Cangialosi of MSG+, they had only worked one other game together at the NHL level prior to tonight.

Backstrom got the Capitals off to a roaring start when he scored at 3:51 of the first period from Alex Ovechkin and Michal Kempny. Ovechkin caught the Devils in a change and turned on the jets to skate the puck into the Devils’ zone. There he fed Backstrom who scored his first of the game to make it 1-0 Washington.

At 18:38 of the first, former Devil Devante Smith-Pelly took an interference call against Andy Greene. The Devils would be on the power play and when the horn sounded, would have 36 seconds of carry over time to the second.

But, just eight seconds into the second frame, the Caps’ Tom Wilson took the puck off the backboards on a Matt Niskanen clearing attempt. He then scored from a strange angle as Kinkaid was not able to handle the puck cleanly on the wrap around. Lars Eller, who won the faceoff to begin the period, was given the secondary assist on the goal. It was now 2-0 Caps on that shorthanded goal by Wilson.

But the Devils would grab one back when Travis Zajac scored a shorty of his own at the 9:23 mark of the second. Taylor Hall had taken a tripping call and the Devils were killing off a penalty. But then Blake Coleman stood the Capitals up at the Devils blue line and was on his way with Zajac on a 2-on-1. Coleman shot and Holtby made the initial save, with Zajac following up and hammering home the rebound to cut the Washington lead in half 2-1.

Overall, on special teams, the Devils were 0-for-5 on the power play with four shots on Holtby. They also had two shorthanded shots, of which they scored on one. The Caps were 1-for-4 on the power play with seven shots, plus one shorthanded shot (on which they scored).

Late in the second, everything hit the fan, so to speak. We talked about Brett Seney’s breakaways and on his second one, after he was turned aside by Holtby, Wilson plowed into the zone and leveled Seney from behind. Although it was actually shoulder-to-shoulder, it was from behind and Seney was without the puck and, because of Wilson’s reputation, he received a match penalty at 17:39. Wilson was gone from the game, with an automatic hearing with the league for possible supplemental discipline and the Devils were on a five minute power play.

However, the Devils would not score on that five minute power play, one which could have ultimately tied the game up at two. Instead, Washington continually stopped the Devils from getting a clean zone entry and set up.

There was 2:39 of carry over power play time into the third period, but once the Caps killed that off, they would begin to open the flood gates. Andre Burakovsky scored at 5:45 of the third from Kempny and Backstrom as he split the Devils defense and beat Kinkaid on a partial breakaway.

The wheels then began to seemingly fall off for the Devils as 8:26 of the third, Miles Wood was assessed a double minor for butt ending Dmitry Orlov with his stick. Then, at 10:17, Sami Vatanen was called for hooking Jakub Vrana and Washington would have two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time. And that is just poking the bear that is the fourth-ranked power play unit in the NHL. Backstrom scored at 10:57 to make it 4-1. He took a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and shot the puck under the crossbar and in. John Carlson had the secondary assist.

In what was already a strange game, the Devils were not through yet. They began the long climb back into things at 12:35 when Nico Hischier finished a play started by Hall. Hall drove to the Caps’ net with a nice power move and Nico put the rebound away. That goal made it 4-2 and gave the Devils some life.

The Devils would cut the Capital lead to one at 18:10 when Johansson scored on his old team from Hall and Hischier. This one came when the three rushed up the ice and Hall fed Johansson as Marcus was crashing the net. He shoveled the puck in from right on the doorstep and made it 4-3.

We seemed to be headed for a dramatic finish, as the Devils pulled Kinkaid with about 1:30 remaining in the game. But things were not to be as Ovechkin grabbed the puck at his own blue line, knew he had time and sent it down the ice to score into the empty net. That put Washington back up by two at 5-3.

But the Devils felt that they still had time and they pulled Kinkaid again with a little over a minute remaining. Backstrom then broke in on the empty net with Ovechkin, who fed him to score into the open goal mouth and finish off his hatty. That made it 6-3 Capitals, which was our final.

The Devils had a good night statistically, out shooting Washington 36-31, winning 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hitting the Caps 12-6 and having less giveaways at 12 for the Caps to the Devils’ nine. Washington registered more blocked shots at 14 to 11.

Individually, Vatanen led all skaters for the Devils in ice time with 21:59 (3:26 on the power play and 1:04 on the penalty kill) while Hall led all forwards with 21:38 (6:48 of PP time and four seconds of PK time). Four players led in shots on goal with four (Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Johansson and Damon Severson) while Wood led in hits with four. Blocks went to Greene with three and five players registered a takeaway (Hall, Brian Boyle, Hischier, Coleman and Severson).

Next up, the Devils have to regroup fast. They will be facing another elite team in the Winnipeg Jets at home tomorrow at 7 PM. They are now winless in their last four games and will look to rectify that tomorrow night. We will, of course, have that for you right here tomorrow.

Devils Knock Off Habs In Thanksgiving Eve Tilt

If the Devils could play all of their games at The Rock, they’d be set. They play that much better at home than they do on the road. Tonight, they notched another win on home ice by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 the night before Thanksgiving.

Pavel Zacha, a guy who just a few weeks ago was down in Binghamton trying to get back in some kind of groove has found that groove. He scored two goals tonight to improve his goal-scoring streak to three games. But overall, it was a team effort with eleven different Devils notching at least a point with three getting two (Zacha, Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson).

Injury-wise, the Devils had some good news today. Nico Hischier was back in the lineup after missing four games. Those were the first four games he had missed in his (young) NHL career. He had played all 82 games last season. Nico was back centering a line with Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Brian Boyle and Sami Vatanen remain on injured reserve, but did skate today. Steven Santini started a long term conditioning loan to Binghamton of the AHL tonight. He is recovering from a fractured jaw.

The Devils did lose Joey Anderson early in the game. He did not return and there was no word on what happened to him.

Eric Gryba, Drew Stafford and Stefan Noesen were the healthy scratches. Coach John Hynes did say that while Noesen has played well this year, he still needs to work on a few things and taking a night off and looking at video should help him out.

In goal, the Devils were back with Keith Kinkaid. He stopped 24 of 26 shots faced and got some help again from the post. Montreal countered with Carey Price. The former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner made 23 saves on 28 Devils shots.

The Devils kicked off the scoring when Kyle Palmieri connected from Andy Greene and Blake Coleman. It came 6:26 into the game when a relentless Coleman forecheck worked the puck eventually back to Greene. Greene fired a shot from the point that Palmieri was able to bat out of the air behind Price. His redirection gave New Jersey the 1-0 lead early.

But it would not last long. Just 24 seconds later, Jonathan Drouin scored off the rush, going top shelf over Kinkaid, for the Habs. Andrew Shaw had the lone assist on his goal and we were back to square one with a 1-1 game.

But before the first intermission, Hischier would give the Devils back the lead. The goal came at 16:55 and happened off of an offensive zone faceoff for the Devils. Montreal won the draw and the puck went back off the end boards to Hall. He found a seam to Nico, who shot on Price. The puck trickled behind Price to put the Devils up 2-1. It was a nice return present for Hischier and the Devils would not look back from there.

Hall make it 3-1 Devils in the second with a real beauty at the 8:59 mark of the period. Off the rush, Nico bounced the puck off the boards to himself to skate it into the far corner. From there, he found Johansson at the far half wall. Johansson found a nice seam to get the puck to Egor Yakovlev and the Russian took the pass at the near faceoff dot. He made a move toward Price that froze the Montreal goaltender briefly, then passed to Hall in the slot who buried the puck into an empty net. It was a bang-bang play and very nice. The assist to Yakovlev was also his first NHL point (and a nice one to get it on too).

From there, Pavel Zacha took over beginning at 10:01 of the second to make it 4-1 Devils. Jesper Bratt worked hard in the corner to get a loose puck to Marcus Johansson. Johansson directed to puck towards Zacha at the side of the net. Zacha was able to backhand a shot out of midair to shovel it into the empty net. The floodgates had officially opened as the Devils now had a three goal lead.

In their last seven games, the Devils had gone 0-for-15 on the power play. But that was about to change. At the 11:52 mark, Tomas Tatar was called for delay of game for closing his hand on the puck. The Devils were on their first power play of the game and with less than ten seconds remaining on the man advantage, Zacha struck again. He scored at 13:47 from Damon Severson and Brett Seney to make it 5-1. It came when Severson found Zacha through the neutral zone. He split the Canadiens’ defense and went five hole on Price. That ended the Devils’ power play goal drought right there.

Overall, the Devils were 1-for-1 on the power play with three shots. They also registered two shorthanded shots. Montreal was 0-for-2 on the PP, notching just two shots on goal.

The Habs would get one more when Max Domi (who came in with 25 points, the best start for a Montreal player in 100 years) extended his point streak to 11 games. He took a shot that was blocked and fluttered by Kinkaid to make it 5-2 at the 10:52 mark of the third. This came after the Canadiens had a goal disallowed earlier on in the period.

Kenny Agostino, a New Jersey native who played high school hockey at Delbarton and was twice named the New Jersey state player of the year by the Star-Ledger, had one waved off with 17:04 remaining in the game when the net came off its moorings before the puck crossed the line fully. The situation room in Toronto initiated a review, but the call on the ice stood, no goal.

And with the Domi goal, we had our final: 5-2.

The Devils, as a team, lost a staggering 60-percent of the game’s faceoffs and were outhit 19-13. Each team had 11 blocked shots and ten giveaways.

Individually, Andy Greene led the team in ice time with 21:21 (including 3:15 shorthanded ice time) while Hall led the forwards with 20:46 (including 38 seconds of PP TOI). Shots on goal saw four as the most, with Hall, Palmieri, Zacha and Severson each notching that number. Blake Coleman led in hits with three while Greene led in blocked shots with three. Pavel Zacha had five takeaways to lead in that category.

Next up, Turkey Day tomorrow. Following that, the Devils will take on the Islanders at home on Friday (a 4 PM puck drop). That will be the Devils’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night and will also feature an angry Isles team, as they were blown out by the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden. We will, of course, have that game for you right here.

Predators Defeat Devils in Overtime

The Devils simply did not feel that their compete level was up to snuff. Because of that, coach John Hynes put them through a “training camp-like” practice. If bag skating was not enough to get through to them, what else could?

The wind sprints and grueling practices paid off – mostly. The Devils came out and played better tonight than they had in the last two games. There were few, if any, “passengers.” But the Devils still could not close out the deal, falling in overtime to the Nashville Predators 4-3.

Now, make no mistake, the Preds are an elite team in the NHL and the Devils kept up and skated with them. But they just could not get that kill shot.

Some roster moves saw Steven Santini (fractured jaw), Ben Lovejoy (lower body) and Drew Stafford (upper body) going to the injured reserve while John Quenneville, Eric Gryba and Egor Yakovlev were all recalled from Binghamton to fill in on a roster beset by injuries. Yakovlev was a healthy scratch with Kevin Rooney and Cory Schneider while Quenneville was back on the third line with Miles Wood and Travis Zajac.

Speaking of Zajac, he was listed as day-to-day while missing that game in Philly, so he was back tonight and made an immediate impact, as the Devils won 50-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Zajac, personally won 65-percent of the draws that he took.

One other piece of news was a milestone for Brian Boyle. He was playing in his 700th career NHL game. The centerman, who just received the news that his cancer was in full remission, was honored on the big board in the arena.

Goaltending-wise, Keith Kinkaid and Juuse Saros are the very definitions of a “1A” goalie. A little bit more than a backup and a goalie who can be a starter when needed. With Cory out for the Devils and Pekka Rinne on IR for Nashville, the two would matchup head-to-head. Both were pretty much spectacular most of the night – especially Saros in the third period when the Devils were putting a lot of pressure on the offensive zone.

Kinkaid made 32 stops on 36 Nashville shots faced while Saros turned aside 33 of 36 Devils shots.

Nashville does not have very good special teams, coming into the game ranked 30th in the NHL in power play and 22nd on the penalty kill. The Devils would end the game 1-for-3 on the power play with five shots (and one shorthanded) while the Preds were 1-for-4 with six PP shots and no shorthanded shots. What the Predators, as a bona fide Stanley Cup contender, have is a good 5-on-5 record. They are second in the league in even strength goals coming into tonight. For what it is worth, they also lead in empty net goals – a situation that would thankfully not come up tonight.

The game got off on the right foot for New Jersey with Damon Severson scoring just 2:58 into the first. Severson’s second of the season came when Kyle Palmieri dug the puck out of the corner and passed to Taylor Hall who swooped into the near faceoff circle. Hall one-touched the puck back to Severson, who walked the line with it, backing up along the blue line and firing a howitzer which beat Saros cleanly. With the primary assist, Hall continued his point-scoring streak, now standing at six games.

But in something that would become a bit of a trend durin the night, the Preds would tie things up at the 14:40 mark of the first when Yannick Weber shot a knuckle puck that Kinkaid misread. It fluttered past Kinkaid’s glove hand and in. Kevin Fiala and Calle Jarnkrok had the assists on the goal that tied things at one.

But before the first intermission came, the Devils would retake the lead. It came on the power play at 19:01 (Filip Forsberg was called for interfering with Quenneville at 17:53) and came off the stick of Nico Hischier. This one came when Palmieri swung a pass to Hall at the near half wall. Hall saw Nico in the slot and fired a slick pass towards him that Hischier calmly redirected by Saros to make it 2-1 Devils.

The second period would see a weird play in the midway point of the frame. Hall was called for tripping PK Subban when it was obvious from replays that Subban went down on his own with Hall not even touching him. He simply lost an edge. The officials got together and discussed it and the call on the ice was reversed, meaning play would continue at 5-on-5. This was a good job by the officials to make sure they got the call right and did not make a phantom penalty call.

Nashville, however, would not need the power play. Viktor Arvidsson tied things at two at the 13:06 mark of the second, getting assists from Kyle Turris and Roman Josi. Arvidsson simply ripped a shot by Keith Kinkaid’s glove to get the equalizer.

But the Devils would only need 40 seconds to answer back. They took a 3-2 lead at 13:46 when Hischier got his second of the game. It came when Sami Vatanen banked a pass off the boards to Palmieri, who stepped just inside the Predators’ blue line. He saw Hischier breaking towards the Nashville net and threw the puck up to him. Nico tipped it by Saros on the doorstep to give the Devils the lead.

Some missed opportunities for the Devils in the third period, as Saros came up huge for the Predators. Midway through the period, Palmieri (who had assisted on all three of the Devils goals) seemingly had scored, but the puck had entered the net behind Saros after the whistle had been blown by the referee. It was a seemingly quick whistle, but replays showed that Saros had made the save and the puck trickled in once the whistle blew play dead.

At 12:25 of the third, Marcus Johansson was called for holding and the Predators went on the power play. Blake Coleman was robbed on a shorthanded breakaway by Saros and the Preds took the puck the other way. At 13:40, Forsberg scored from Ryan Johansen and Subban to tie the game at three.

Time would run out with both teams getting a point out of the game, but it would take OT heroics if the Devils were to get their first victory on home ice against Nashville since 2015.

It was the first overtime game for both teams this season and the Devils really pushed the pace the whole session. But in the end, Nashville took the extra point when a Kyle Turris shot redirected off of Andy Greene’s leg and past Kinkaid to make it 4-3 Preds. Mattias Ekholm had the lone assist on that.

So the Devils did not come away with the win, but they did take it to a very good team in the Predators. Stats-wise, the Devils held the edge in hits (16-15) and blocked shots (13-11).

Individually, Vatanen again led the Devils in ice time with a more tame 25:52 (1:31 on the power play and 5:26 on the PK). Hall led all forwards in TOI with 20:04 (3:11 on the PP/one second shorthanded). Hall also had two points – both assists. Palmieri (three assists) and Hischier (two goals) also had multi-point nights. Miles Wood led in shots on goal with seven while Severson led in hits with three. Gryba and Greene tied for the lead in blocks with four each while Johansson, Quenneville, Zajac and Hall each had three takeaways to lead that category. Palmieri would be named the game’s third star while Hischier was the second and Nashville’s Turris was the first.

Next up for the Devils, they take on the Florida Panthers on Saturday at 12 noon at Prudential Center. This is the final home game for about a seven game stretch. I will be attending this game live and will have the recap up as soon as possible.

Landeskog Hat Trick Downs Devils

They say all good things must come to an end and the Devils season starting winning streak ended at four thanks to three goals by Gabriel Landeskog, who powered the Colorado Avalanche past the Devils 5-3.

It was the second annual WWE Night at The Rock with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and WWE Superstar Curt Hawkins all in attendance. They were there to promote WWE SmackDown’s television taping coming up at Prudential Center this Tuesday. There was a WWE mini museum on the concourse, ticket giveaways, special Devils/WWE video presentations and, of course, fans dressed as WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair giving plenty of “woos!”

But back to hockey, there was serious business at hand. The Devils were gunning for their fifth straight to start the season and would do so with a change to the lineup. Drew Stafford slotted in on the second line with Pavel Zacha and Marcus Johansson while John Quenneville was out. Some tinkering would seem a little strange considering all that the Devils have done so far, but Bryce Salvador, on the MSG+ pregame show, mentioned that this was more for Coach Hynes to get Stafford in and some playing time than anything that Quenneville has or has not done. Although Ken Daneyko did say during the first period of the broadcast that Quenneville needs to step up and begin to produce to justify putting him in the lineup every night.

A change that did not happen was Will Butcher. He was in and playing the game. He had a bit of an injury scare if you will recall in the last game against Dallas. It looked to be a bad shoulder or collarbone injury, but he was well enough and did play tonight. The defense remained the same up and down. The Devils would seem to lose Travis Zajac for the night when a dangerous hit to his knee took him out. Hopefully he is fine, but it does not seem likely at this point. We should find out more tomorrow.

In goal, Keith Kinkaid has been just lights out. With a 1.00 goals against average for the season, you had to go with him as the hot hand. He finished the night making 29 saves on 33 Colorado shots. For the Avs, Philipp Grubauer made the start and stopped 27 of 30 Devils shots.

The power play would play a huge role in this game. The officials were seemingly calling everything and the teams had to take advantage when they had it. The Devils ended up 2-for-5 with four shots on the man advantage as well as three shorthanded shots. The Avalanche were 1-for-6 with five shots on the power play and no shorthanded shots.

One thing the Devils did do was neutralize Nathan MacKinnon. The Avalanche forward had scored goals in each of his team’s first six games. He was held to just three points – all of them assists – on the night.

The scoring was kicked off at 17:42 of the first when Nico Hischier connected on the power play for the Devils. Matt Nieto had gone off for hooking and the Devils were up a man. Kyle Palmieri drove towards the net up the right wing side and was forced behind the goal cage. He took the hit to get it to Taylor Hall, who played tic-tac-toe with Zajac at the near side of the net. Zajac one-touched it to Hischier at the doorstep and he buried it. The Devils had a 1-0 lead that would last them to the first intermission. The assist was Hall’s first of three points on the night – he would factor into all of the Devils’ goals.

Just prior to the Devils goal, Sami Vatanen had taken a slash on his wrist that seemed to cause him some discomfort, but he would return. Also, Zacha would go toe-to-toe with Nikita Zadorov in a spirited bout as he came to the aid of a Stafford following a huge collision between him and Zadorov. Zacha is not a fighter, but came to the aid of his teammate and that has to be respected.

But the whistles would play a factor all night and that started in the first period as well. Following the Devils goal, they were back on the power play at 19:02 when Ian Cole was called for interference. That was neutralized when Palmieri was called for interference at 19:37. Then MacKinnon went off for boarding at 19:56 to make it a 4-on-3 in favor of the Devils.

This went on for most of the game as the officials were calling any and all infractions.

At the 1:17 mark of the second, Kinkaid had seemingly made an amazing kick save, sliding across his crease to just get a foot on a Sven Andrighetto shot. The officials went to a review and Toronto decided that the puck had actually crossed the line completely, tying the game at one. One-time Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot and Cole had the assists.

Colorado had gotten the equalizer, but the game would not remain tied for long. Landeskog scored his third of the season and first of the night at 7:08 of the second from Mikko Rantanen and MacKinnon. That made it 2-1 Avs and came on the power play as Palmieri was called for interference at 6:32.

But the Devils would pull even before the end of the second. At 15:42, Hall notched his first of the season when Hischier came up the left wing boards, reversed course in the corner, spinning out and passing to a trailing Andy Greene. Greene quickly gave to Hall, who was set up at the top of the far faceoff circle. He one-timed a laser beam by Grubauer to make it 2-2.

This would all set up a wild third period.

It began with the Devils taking a 3-2 lead on the power play at 6:22 of the third. Colorado’s Colin Wilson was off for tripping Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle would strike. It was a beautiful goal with Hall circling behind the Avs’ net and feeding Palmieri at the near faceoff dot. He sent a one-touch pass to Boyle in front of the net and Boyle redirected the puck into the goal behind Grubauer to give the Devils what would turn out to be a brief lead.

Then the avalanche by the Avalanche began. Three straight unanswered. First, Landeskog scored his second of the game at 8:08 to tie it at three from Cole and Rantanen.

Landeskog struck again to complete the hatty at 16:38 to give the Avs the lead at 4-3. Rantanen and MacKinnon assisted on that.

Finally, at 19:47, after Kinkaid had been pulled for the extra attacker, Rantanen scored into the empty net from MacKinnon and Erik Johnson. That gave us our final of 5-3.

Statistically, the Devils won 54-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Avalanche 19-16 and had more blocked shots 11-5. Individually, Andy Greene ate up the most minutes (24:03 – with 19 seconds on the power play and 6:40 of PK time) while Hall led forwards with 19:28 (including 3:36 on the PP). Blake Coleman led in shots on goal with five, Palmieri led in hits with four. Greene also led in blocks with three and Stafford, Ben Lovejoy and Damon Severson led in takeaways with two apiece.

Next up, the Devils will get to sport their road whites for the first time this regular season as they head down the Turnpike to take on the Flyers in Philadelphia this Saturday at 1 PM. We will have coverage of the game right here, of course.

“Behind the Glass” Episode Three

The Devils are getting closer and closer to the regular season in the NHL Network series “Behind the Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp” and the intensity is ramping up.

The Devils travel 4,000 miles to Europe for the exhibition finale against SC Bern and the regular season opener against the Edmonton Oilers. As the narrator says, a NHL season only rewards teams prepared for anything that is coming their way and the Devils need to get ready.

First and foremost, the Euro trip will be a team building exercise. The narrator admits that Bern is a strange place for a NHL team to finish a training camp, but the players will make the most of it by seeing the city and meeting fans in such a far flung place. John Hynes says that the team will focus as much on their bonding as their forecheck. The “Brotherhood not Neighborhood” slogan comes up in regards to their team building.

Taylor Hall and Hynes run through the Devils’ philosophy in that regard. At a team dinner in Bern, Andy Greene speaks about “being above the championship line” and how championship teams do things differently than average teams.

A comedy interlude as Blake Coleman and Pavel Zacha go out into Bern to look for a place to eat. They cannot read the menus at many of the restaurants.

This leads us to Nico Hischier, who is “right at home” in Switzerland – his home country. He will get to play in front of friends and family against his former National League team, SC Bern.

Following the profile on Nico, another comedy scene as Sami Vatanen works the camera and fools around with the crew filming the show. But that serves as a segue too, as the show then moves on to the Devils having to “get in focus” on the goaltending front.

The question of who the Devils starting goalie will be is raised. Goaltending coach Rollie Melanson is interviewed briefly about Cory Schneider and how Keith Kinkaid is the number one going into the season. Kinkaid is full of confidence and loose, sometimes more than the coaching staff would like to see.

Next up the game against SC Bern as the Swiss club will be amped up to play the Devils. Hynes calls this the “last audition” for the season. With the final exhibition and the end of preseason, roster spots are still open in terms of who will play where. Everyone who has made the trip has made the team, but will they be seeing much, or any, game action?

Hischier’s big ovation during the starting lineups of the SC Bern game is shown and the game itself is covered via highlights. Nico’s dad is shown in the crowd and talks about how nervous Nico was prior to the game.

More highlights are shown as SC Bern keeps sticking around the game and tying it up and frustration starts to set in for the Devils.

Hynes chews the team out following the second period. The Devils want to tighten up play as the game progresses. SC Bern once again ties the game up in the third period and the game is headed for overtime. Here, Hall takes over and “makes it look easy” according to the narrator.

Nico then leads the fans in a cheer postgame and basks in the glow of the Bern fans one final time. Hynes then says that up next is the real deal of the regular season.

Hynes, Ray Shero and Tom Fitzgerald discuss John Quenneville at the end of the episode and say that while he made the team, he needs to earn staying in the NHL. Hynes then stresses to the team that the Devils are not a team that can go through the motions. They need to work hard and buy in to the system.

Next week, the series concludes as the Devils go to Sweden to take on the Oilers in the first regular season game of the year. Everything is set for the Devils, now will the club be able to put together the pieces for a successful regular season?

Episode Two of “Behind the Glass”

The second episode of the NHL Network’s “Behind the Glass: Inside New Jersey Devils Training Camp” aired tonight and it was a fast paced show.

We begin with the narrator talking about how all NHL training camps are “a race against time” but this one is moving even quicker. The Devils have the trip to Europe to contend with and that is making decisions move at a breakneck pace.

The Devils travel to Brooklyn to play the Islanders in their next preseason game. Kurtis Gabriel is discussed. His focus on trying to make the team has him playing a very physical style, but he is not playing disciplined enough.

That brings us to the first round of cuts. Blake Speers and Gabriel are shown meeting with Ray Shero and John Hynes. This was a fascinating look into how these things go down at an NHL level. The narrator mentions that this is a part of NHL life and the prospects will be thinking about them. Hynes and Shero are complimentary towards the players they are cutting in terms of what they did good during camp, but do stress what needs to be worked on by the players getting cut.

The next segment shows Taylor Hall near his home in Hoboken. He discusses the differences between Edmonton and New Jersey. While Edmonton is hockey-mad all year long and hockey is what they focus on in a small city, the New York City metropolitan area is somewhere where he can be more anonymous because hockey is not a year-long focus. He says that people do not recognize him too much and when they do, they usually just say “go Devils” or tell him he is doing a great job. He says that he can see himself sticking around New Jersey for a long time.

Ty Smith is next to be profiled, as Shero, Tom Fitzgerald and Hynes all talk about him and what he brings to the table. Although things seem good to go for him, a big change will be coming for him by the end of the episode.

Miles Wood’s re-signing is covered. Shero says that his contract was a good fit for both him and the Devils. Unfortunately for players on the bubble, Wood’s re-signing takes away a spot for them.

Brian Boyle is shown with his family and talks about his cancer diagnosis last season. Some of the other players talk about last year and how he was year prior to being diagnosed with cancer. Cory Schneider mentioned that he was gassed a lot during practice and his timing seemed off. But he fought through things and his triumphant return and goal during Hockey Fights Cancer Night against Edmonton are shown.

Next up, the team travels into New York City to take on the Rangers. An intermission chewing out from coach Hynes is shown and the Devils’ eventual overtime loss to New York.

Good news for John Quenneville and Smith as they have survived cuts and will travel with the team to Winnipeg for their next preseason game against the Jets. The Devils will be traveling over the following two weeks to Winnipeg, Switzerland and Sweden.

Practice is shown in Winnipeg where Nico Hischier talks about his excitement in returning to Switzerland for a game.

Next they show the win over the Jets. Hynes is pleased, saying the team played “excellent.” But Ty Smith, who did not see time during the game, is given word the next day that he is being sent back to his junior team in Spokane. Hynes talks to a disappointed Smith about what they need to see from him in the future and he is told to just keep working hard as he “is a Devil.”

Overall, this was a pretty good episode. Seeing the cut process was fascinating, as I mentioned. Of course you had to feel for the players, but you also felt for the coaches and management. It is not an easy task to tell a competitive professional athlete that he has not made a team. Watching these processes play out was kind of cool.

Next episode sees the Devils on their trip to Europe, presumably the SC Bern game and the surrounding things with that involving Nico Hischier and his homecoming.

Preseason: Devils Win Exhibition Finale Over SC Bern in OT

The Devils took their preseason road show to Europe today, heading over to Bern, Switzerland to take on local Swiss National League team SC Bern in the exhibition final. Starting Saturday, the games count for real. But until then, the Devils got the 3-2 overtime victory and head into the regular season with some confidence.

The game was played at PostFinance Arena in Bern, the Swiss capital, as part of the 2018 NHL Global Series Challenge. It was a great atmosphere as the fans were singing and chanting, waving flags and really into the game. It had a very European soccer flavor to it and it was a neat change of pace from the more staid North American crowds.

But with a European arena comes an international ice surface. A NHL rink is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. An international rink is 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. That extra room is good for players like Taylor Hall to show off their speed, but can be an adjustment for NHL players used to a smaller ice surface.

One other quirk is that each team was allowed to dress 22 players. The Devils went with 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. This is the amount of players allowed to dress in the European game and that rule was used today likely due to the bigger ice surface.

One of the players dressed for New Jersey was Jean-Sebastien Dea. Dea was making his Devils debut after being claimed off of waivers on Friday from Pittsburgh.

Pregame festivities included a jersey exchange, as Devils President Hugh Weber accepted a SC Bern jersey on behalf of the team while Swiss-native Nico Hischier, who did play for SC Bern before coming to North America, presented Devils jersey to Bern management. Former Swiss NHLer Mark Streit dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff which was taken by the Devils’ other Swiss native, defenseman Mirco Mueller. During the player intros, the Swiss fans gave Hall a big reaction and, of course, Nico got a huge reaction as the fans recognized one of their own.

Despite being on the international ice sheet, the game was contested under NHL rules with and NHL referee and linesman. The other ref was Swiss and the other linesman was Swedish.

SC Bern are already five games into the Swiss National League’s regular season. They are 5-1 in that competition and were ready for the Devils tonight. It was a tight game where quality scoring chances were at a premium. SC Bern is a powerhouse of Swiss hockey and it showed in their game today.

This was the first NHL contested game to be played in Bern in exactly ten years, as on October 1, 2008, the Rangers took on Russian team Metallurg in this city.

The Devils struck first when Andy Greene scored his second goal in as many games, taking a nice pass from Miles Wood. Greene was all alone in front with time and roofed it over SC Bern goaltender Leonardo Genoni. It was 1-0 Devils and would be that way going into the second period.

SC Bern would tie things very early in the second when Simon Moser scored on a rebound after Keith Kinkaid made a nice initial save. This occurred off of a turnover in the Devils’ zone. Earlier in the first period, Kinkaid was forced to make a huge save off of a Devils turnover in their own end as well. That one ended in a scramble and then the net coming off of its moorings. Marcus Johansson helped on that one, keeping the puck out of the New Jersey net after having to make like a goalie.

The Devils would regain the lead later in the second when Pavel Zacha would feed Ben Lovejoy in the slot and he fired home a one-timer that beat Genoni. That made it 2-1 Devils and raise your hand if you had Andy Greene and Ben Lovejoy as the Devils’ goal scorers for this game.

The teams kind of settled into a bit of momentum trading from here on out. Genoni made a nice stop early in the third period in a goalmouth scramble. But SC Bern would challenge and then finally tie things up later in the third frame. This one came courtesy of Connecticut native Mark Arcobello. He snapped one by Kinkaid following a 2-on-1 at the other end that was stopped by Genoni. That goal came with under three minutes left in the game.

When the final horn sounded, we were headed for three-on-three OT. Remember, this game was being played with NHL rules plus the extra open ice should have made for a lot of open skating and chances.

And all of that did come. The Devils finally put the game away with 1:03 to go in the OT period. Hall took a pass from Sami Vatanen in the Devils’ zone, skated up the ice and danced around the Bern defender. He then snapped one by Genoni and that put the 2018 preseason to bed with a 3-2 Devils victory.

Postgame featured handshakes between the teams, as well as both teams saluting the SC Bern fans. This completed the great atmosphere in the arena and put a cap on a great day of hockey.

Next up, the Devils will have an off day in Switzerland tomorrow, followed by traveling to Sweden on Wednesday for their season opener in Gothenburg against the Edmonton Oilers. In Sweden, points will be on the line and the Devils will be down to their final opening day roster. That game takes place on Saturday, October 6 at 1:30 PM New Jersey time. We will, of course, have coverage of that right here on the blog. We will also have coverage of episode two of the NHL Network series “Behind the Glass” tonight as well.