Devils End Season on High Note, Defeat Panthers in OT

The 2018-19 season was one of some ups and many downs for the New Jersey Devils. But they ended the season with an up by defeating the Florida Panthers 4-3 in overtime down in Sunrise. It was a game with a little bit of everything for both teams that got a little bit chippy at times.

The Devils never actually officially announced anything, but Taylor Hall did not play tonight, missing the remainder of the season. Also, Erika Wachter revealed on the pregame show that Jesper Bratt missed the end of the season due to an ankle injury. Sami Vatanen also remained out, missing the final few games. Disappointingly, Kyle Palmieri missed tonight. He was three goals shy of the 30 mark with 27 and it would have been great to see him get to that milestone. Kurtis Gabriel also missed tonight injured.

Healthy scratches were Mirco Mueller (with Egor Yakovlev slotting in on the second defensive pairing with Connor Carrick) and Stefan Noesen (with Brett Seney subbing on the fourth line with Michael McLeod and Kevin Rooney for him).

Two guys who did play were defensemen Damon Severson and Andy Greene, who were the only Devils in this injury-riddled season to play in all 82 games. Congratulations to them on that marker.

In goal for the Devils was Mackenzie Blackwood, making his final start of the year. He stopped 37 of the Panthers’ 40 shots for a .925 save percentage. Opposing him for Florida was the ageless Roberto Luongo. He may or may not be playing in his final NHL game (Steve Cangialosi did note that he still does have three years on his contract) at age 40. He stopped 23 of 27 Devils shots for an .852 save percentage on the night.

On special teams, in a game that, as noted, was very chippy at times, the Devils went 1-for-5 on the power play with six shots and a shorthanded shot as well. The Panthers were 0-for-3 on the man advantage with six shots as well. They also have five shorthanded shots to go with that. Florida takes a lot of shots, much like the Carolina Hurricanes, but Blackwood was largely equal to the task all night.

One other interesting note as brought up by Cangialosi was that referee Conor O’Donnell was officiating his first National Hockey League game. The interesting point was that he was a junior teammate of Taylor Hall with the Windsor Spitfires where they won a Memorial Cup together. Their coach there? Current Florida coach Bob Boughner.

The Devils kicked off their final game by taking the lead just 1:27 into the game. Will Butcher gave the puck to Nico Hischier, who used his body to protect the puck versus Florida d-man Aaron Ekblad. He then passed to Nathan Bastian backdoor, who scored to make it 1-0 Devils early.

The Devils seemed to make it 2-0 when Kenny Agostino fired from the point with 13:10 remaining in the first period and Drew Stafford tipped it by Luongo. Initially, it was called a goal on the ice. The officials then met and overturned that to no goal. They checked with Toronto and the call on the ice of no goal was confirmed. Stafford had tipped the puck by Luongo with his stick above the crossbar, making it a high-stick.

The Devils went through the majority of the first period without a shot on net, being stymied for almost 18 minutes from the first goal that was scored.

But they would break through in the second period to double their lead. At 7:41 into the second frame, Yakovlev grabbed a loose puck (a Blake Coleman shot that was blocked in front) and shot from a sharp angle. It actually went right to Bastian, who was set up in front of the net and who redirected the puck by Luongo to make it 2-0. Bastian had the first two goals for the Devils and would be named the game’s third star at the end of the night. Blake Coleman has the other assist on this goal.

But the Panthers would begin a comeback from there. At 11:58, Aleksander Barkov took a Jonathan Huberdeau pass in the neutral zone. He made a few fakes through the Devils’ defense and scored five-hole on Blackwood to make it 2-1. That was Barkov’s 95th point of the season, breaking the single season point record for the Florida franchise. He passed Pavel Bure’s record of 94.

The Devils would retake the two goal lead on an absolute beauty of a goal. After the Devils killed off a Pavel Zacha hooking penalty, Zacha came out of the box and grabbed a puck from Joey Anderson. He then went outside while rushing up the right wing boards with Ekblad draped all over him, comes inside and made a nice move on Luongo to score into the empty side of the net. It was a nice goal and one that will live on in the highlight reels for years to come. It also gave the Devils a 3-1 lead. Kevin Rooney had the secondary assist.

Up to the third period there were very few penalties. In fact, none were called in the first. But the third period was a completely different story. The third frame contained a combined 64 penalty minutes, including four 10 minute misconduct penalties. There was also a fight between Michael McLeod and Josh Brown that was pretty good. McLeod gave the much bigger Brown a good fight and really held his own.

Florida cut the Devils lead to one at the 16:35 mark of the third when Huberdeau scored just as Luongo was going to the bench for the extra attacker. He took a centering pass from Evgenii Dadonov, who was at the side of the net, and scored. Keith Yandle had the secondary assist on the goal. It was now 3-2 Devils.

The Panthers would pull Luongo again and, exactly two minutes after the Huberdeau goal, at 18:35, Mike Hoffman scored to tie it up at three. Following a mad scramble in front of the Devils’ net, the puck squirted out to Hoffman in the slot and he fired, beating Blackwood to level the game off. Vincent Trocheck had the other assist.

Things seemed to be headed for overtime, but, with exactly one second remaining in regulation, a different wrinkle was put into things. Huberdeau fired the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt in the Panthers’ zone at 19:59. A delay of game penalty was called and the Devils would begin the OT period with an extra attacker.

And they would convert. Just 56 seconds into OT, Travis Zajac takes a great pass from Severson and fired from the left hash marks. He became the first Devil this season to score in OT other than Nico Hischier (Nico was lost to one of the misconduct penalties mentioned earlier) and gave the Devils their first victory in Sunrise since October 11, 2014. The Devils had the 4-3 win and that was that on the 2018-19 season. Zacha had the secondary assist.

The Devils were out shot on the night 40-27, won 43-percent of the faceoffs, had 37 hits to the Panthers’ 35 and had 15 blocked shots to the Panthers’ six. The Panthers had more giveaways at 27 to the Devils’ seven.

Individually, Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:47 (including 5:11 of PP time and 2:11 of shorthanded time). Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 21:31 total ice time (5:44 on the power play and 2:28 on the PK). Coleman led in shots on goal with five, Bastian, in addition to his two goals, also led in hits with six, Andy Greene once again led in blocked shots with three and McLeod led in takeaways with three.

And that puts a wrap on the 2018-19 season. We will have coverage here on Tuesday on the NHL Draft Lottery and will also have a post up later tonight on Ty Smith and the Spokane Chiefs’ playoff game in the WHL. We will also be continuing coverage of the Devils all offseason long.

Have a great Summer everyone!

Devils Reel Off Second Straight With W Over Sabres

With six games remaining in the season (including this one) the Devils have little to play for except for pride, jobs and to go out on a high note. After the great win over Arizona on Saturday, they came back tonight and defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 at Prudential Center.

With the win, the Sabres remain winless on the road since January 29 – they came into the night 0-9-2 in that 11 game span – and the Devils take the season series for the fifth straight year against Buffalo.

On the injury front, Nathan Bastian (upper body) skated with the team this morning, but remains out. The Devils got Will Butcher back (he missed two games with a stomach virus), but were missing Sami Vatanen, who was out with illness. Blake Coleman was also a game-time decision with Joey Anderson being recalled from Binghamton as an emergency, but Coleman would end up playing tonight. Egor Yakovlev was a healthy scratch for the Devils.

In goal for Buffalo, Linus Ullmark made 18 saves on 20 shots against for a .900 save percentage on the night. Cory Schneider was between the pipes for New Jersey and faced a season high 46 shots, making an also-season-high 45 saves for a .978 save percentage. Cory would be named the game’s first star at the end of the night.

The power play was a big part of the win for the Devils tonight, as they went 2-for-3. scoring on both power play shots that they had. The Sabres were 0-for-3 with a huge six shots. They also had a shorthanded shot to go along with that.

The two goals the Devils scored with Ullmark in the net both came on the power play, in fact. Coleman had the first one just 1:55 into the game. Rasmus Dahlin was serving a holding penalty that Coleman had drawn. On the ensuing man advantage, Nico Hischier worked the puck along the near wall, getting it to Coleman down low. Coleman then skated out of the near corner, made a power move on Ullmark and beat him to make it 1-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the other assist. Coleman would go on to be named the game’s third star of the night. This goal also broke a five-game Devils power play drought.

Then a weird one. At 7:23, the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart tied the game when he fired a shot from center ice and it kind of short hopped Cory to beat him. It was a kind of embarrassing play for Schneider, but one that he would shake off to come back for the win. It was the only one he surrendered all night off of a barrage of Buffalo shots.

After a scoreless second period, Pavel Zacha would give the Devils back the lead at the 4:30 mark of the third on the power play. Vladimir Sobotka was sent off for hooking Kurtis Gabriel and after the Devils worked the puck around up top, it finally got to Zacha at the far faceoff circle. He fired a shot and it beat Ullmark cleanly with Miles Wood providing the screen in front. Butcher and Kenny Agostino, both working at the point, got the assists on the goal. This made it 2-1 Devils.

A few minutes later, with 13:36 on the clock, Reinhart had seemingly tied it for Buffalo. But the Devils challenged for goalie interference. The replay showed that Evan Rodrigues in front of Cory had bumped him, not allowing him to get set for the shot. Although it seemed that Andy Greene had bumped Rodrigues into Cory, the contact with Cory came before Greene made contact with Rodrigues, if you can follow that. Either way, the goal was waved off after a review and it remained 2-1 Devils.

The Sabres pulled Ullmark with about 1:30 remaining in regulation and Wood scored into the empty net. He kind of blindly threw the puck down the ice into the net with his back turned to the goal. But it counted and made it 3-1. Greene and Zacha, who was named the game’s second star, got the assists.

Buffalo pulled their goaltender again after that and Agostino took a hooking penalty at 19:35 to put the Sabres on the power play to essentially end the game. With about two seconds remaining, the Sabres seemed to have scored again, but the goal was immediately waved off on the ice due to Conor Sheary batting the puck in with a high stick. With that, the faceoff came outside the zone, the puck was dropped and the final buzzer sounded with the Devils gaining the 3-1 win.

The Devils were out shot 46 to 21. They also won the faceoff battle, winning 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had more hits (22-12) and more blocked shots (10-4). They also had more giveaways at 11 to the Sabres’ six.

Individually, a New Jersey Devils single season record was set tonight. Andy Greene had two blocks, which gave him 200 on the season, good to pass Colin White (199) for most blocked shots in a single season. He also leads the NHL in blocked shots as well right now. Those two shots also led the Devils on the night.

Damon Severson led the Devils in ice time (23:04, including 2:13 on the PP and 2:26 on the PK). Zacha led the forwards with 17:23 (1:42 on the PP and 1:11 shorthanded). Shots were led by Coleman with three. Agostino led in hits with four and takeaways were led by Agostino and Kurtis Gabriel with one each.

Next up, the Devils head off to Motown to take on the Red Wings. That game is a 7:30 PM start on Friday. I have a previous engagement and will not be able to watch the game live. I am recording it and will get a write up up as soon as possible.

Also beginning this Friday is the NCAA Men’s Division 1 tournament. The Devils will have three prospects taking part in the festivities. Reilly Walsh and Harvard will take on UMass while Matt Hellickson and Notre Dame will faceoff with JC MacLean (John’s son – who is not a Devils prospect) and Clarkson in the Northeast Regional at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. Those games are on Friday with Harvard’s game at 3 PM and Notre Dame’s at 6:30 PM. Meanwhile, in the East Regional from Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, Jeremy Davies and Northeastern will face Cornell.

We will have all of the information for you right here as those games get underway. In the meantime, have a good week everyone!

Devils Outlast Coyotes in Shootout

The Devils were home this afternoon to take on the Arizona Coyotes and it was a really close one. New Jersey prevailed in the shootout 2-1 following a nailbiter of an overtime.

The Devils got several crucial parts back in the lineup with Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Mirco Mueller and Sami Vatanen all returning from injury. Will Butcher remained out and Kurtis Gabriel, Blake Pietila (who was actually placed on waivers yesterday) and Egor Yakovlev were all scratched.

In goal, the Devils continued going back-and-forth between Mackenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider to finish off the season with Blackwood going today. He stopped 23 of 24 shots in regulation and OT for a .958 save percentage. He also made four stops in the shootout to lead the Devils to victory. Facing him was Darcy Kuemper for Arizona. He stopped 31 of 32 Devils shots for a .969 save percentage and was named the game’s third star of the afternoon.

Special teams was a sticking point for the Devils today. They were 0-for-5 on the power play with 12 shots as they just peppered Kuemper all afternoon with the man advantage but could not solve the Coyotes penalty kill. Arizona was 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots, which included an overtime 4-on-3 power play when Palmieri was called for cross-checking early in the extra session. Obviously the Devils killed that off to survive. The Devils also added two shorthanded shots on the afternoon.

The first goal of the game was scored by Oliver Ekman-Larsson just 2:31 into the game. He beat Blackwood clean over his glovehand off assists from Alex Galchenyuk and Conor Garland. That made it 1-0 Arizona and things looked bad again for the Devils. The Yotes are fighting for their playoff lives and most in the mostly packed Prudential Center figured this was the beginning of the end for the Devils.

But late in the first the Devils struck back. At the 17:01 mark, Drew Stafford fired a shot that beat Kuemper five hole. Pavel Zacha and Wood had the assists on the goal that leveled the game off at one. Stafford would be named the game’s second star for this goal.

And then we settled in. As mentioned above, the Devils spent five power play opportunities opening up a firing gallery at Kuemper, but he was equal to each task. After a scoreless second and third, we headed off to overtime. It was there that Palmieri took a rough cross-checking call 55 seconds in and things again seemed bleak for New Jersey. But Blackwood rose to the challenge and the Devils’ PK was up to the job as well. The OT ended with both teams playing 4-on-4 due to there being no stoppage of play to get the fourth men off of the ice. Once they killed that off and when OT ended scoreless, we were going to a shootout. These two teams last went to a shootout earlier this calendar year when they were in Arizona.

True to the game’s form, the shootout also came down to the wire. Palmieri went first for the Devils and he was stopped by Kuemper. Nick Cousins finished off the first round for the Coyotes and was stopped by Blackwood. In the second round, Stafford was stopped and so was Galchenyuk for Arizona. The third round saw Damon Severson for New Jersey who was stopped and Vinnie Hinostroza for the Yotes who was also stopped. Next up, the fourth round and Hischier and Clayton Keller were each turned aside.

The Devils finally broke through in the sixth round when Blake Coleman scored to put the Devils ahead. But Garland also connected in the bottom of the sixth for Arizona and we were back to square one. In the top of the seventh, Zacha scored for the Devils and when the Coyotes’ Richard Panik hit the crossbar in the bottom half of the round, the Devils had scored the 2-1 win. Zacha was named the game’s first star with the game-winner in the shootout and an assist on Stafford’s first period goal.

The Devils had the upper hand in shots at 32-24, but lost 60-percent of the game’s faceoffs as the Coyotes just dominated in the circle. The Devils also led in hits (18-13) and blocked shots (14-11) and had more giveaways at six to the Yotes’ five.

Individual stats saw Coleman lead in shots with five, Kenny Agostino lead in hits with three, Mueller lead in blocks with three and Agostino, Stafford, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod, Steven Santini, Mueller, Severson and Vatanen all lead in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils will continue at Prudential Center on Monday when they take on the visiting Buffalo Sabres. We will have coverage of that for you here then. Later tonight we will also have a post up on the CHL playoffs featuring Devils prospects. Have a great weekend everyone!

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 Defeat Hurricanes, Snap Home Winless Streak

The Devils had not won a game at Prudential Center since January 14 when they clobbered the Chicago Blackhawks. Today they were facing the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that could move into a playoff position today with a win, as the Penguins had lost already to put them into a tie for the last wild card spot in the East. But the Devils perservered, weathering a few Carolina comebacks to win 3-2.

The injury-depleted Devils have seen a lot of turnover in their lineup this year so far. Today, they welcomed forward Nick Lappin, making his NHL Devils season debut and defenseman Ryan Murphy making his Devils debut period. Murphy was acquired last week from Minnesota (where he had played a few games at the NHL level this season) and was originally drafted by Carolina. He wore number 32 today and was paired with Mirco Mueller on the blue line. With those guys in, Joey Anderson, Eric Gryba and Steven Santini were the healthy scratches.

The goaltending matchup featured Keith Kinkaid making his return to the net since the LA game last Tuesday. He stopped 33-of-35 for a .943 save percentage and had a great game, coming up big when the Devils needed him most. He was also named the game’s second star. Petr Mrazek faced him and stopped 18-of-21 for an .857 save percentage. The fact that the Devils were out shot 35 to 21 should not surprise. The Canes lead the league in shots for per game with 35.5 while also leading the league in least shots given up per game. They shoot a lot and do not give up many chances.

The game got going with a bang. Just 1:05 into the opening frame, Kurtis Gabriel and Micheal Ferland threw down in a spirited scrap. You would have to give the win to Gabriel with the takedown in his second fight in two nights.

The Devils got the goal scoring going on the power play when Pavel Zacha scored from Murphy and Nico Hischier at 11:35 of the first. It came after the Devils had killed off a 5-on-3 power play for the Hurricanes, an excellent kill where they really limited Carolina’s chances. Following that kill, the Canes’ Brett Pesce took a holding call against Jesper Bratt. On the ensuing power play, Murphy found a seam up the left wing, making a nice backhanded pass to Zacha who was able to finish for his tenth of the season. It was a pretty play and made it 1-0 Devils.

Before the first period was up, the Devils would take the 2-0 lead when Marcus Johansson scored his first of two on the afternoon with 57 seconds remaining the frame. Hischier went point-to-point with Kyle Palmieri, who got a shot on net with Johansson on the doorstep. When Mrazek could not handle the rebound, Johansson was right there to put the puck home. Johansson would go on to score twice today and be named the game’s third star while Nico would assist on all three Devils goals and be named the first star of the game.

In the second period, Carolina would cut the lead in half when, on a delayed penalty, Dougie Hamilton threw the puck through a screen in front that beat Kinkaid to make it 2-1 at the 7:22 mark. Justin Williams and Nino Niederreiter had the assists on that goal.

We talked about Carolina’s shot suppression and that was no more evident than in the second period when it took the Devils until 6:07 remaining to get their first shot on goal. They ended the second with just two shots.

The game winner for the Devils would be a pretty one. It came at the 15:56 mark of the third and saw Bratt poke the puck to himself up the left wing wall and then use his speed to just blow by the Carolina defender. He then made a no-look pass to a trailing Johansson who finished to make it 3-1 late in the game. Hischier had the secondary assist.

Carolina would get one more at the 18:33 mark when they were on a power play and pulled the goaltender for a 6-on-4 man advantage. Niederreiter made a good pass on a 2-on-1 down low with Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen put the puck in to make it 3-2 and set up a dramatic finish. Sebastian Aho had the secondary assist on the play.

On the power play, the Devils were 1-for-4 with four shots and two shorthanded shots. The Canes were 1-for-5 with the man advantage with a huge nine shots on goal. They also had two shorthanded shots. This just further illustrates how many shots the Hurricanes take in the course of a game.

Following a tense finish with multiple icings and faceoffs deep in the Devils’ zone while the Canes had Mrazek pulled, New Jersey held on and won the game 3-2.

The Devils won 56-percent of the game’s faceoffs and out hit the Hurricanes 21-19. They also had more blocked shots at 15 to the Canes’ nine. Each team had seven giveaways.

As for the individual stats, Andy Greene led all Devils skaters in ice time with 23:08 TOI. That includes eight seconds on the power play and 8:29 on the PK. Travis Zajac, although third on the team in ice time (behind Greene and Lovejoy – a byproduct of the team being shorthanded for much of the game), led all forwards with 22:04. That includes 4:05 on the PP and 5:42 on the penalty kill. Shots were led by Johansson with five, hits by Lovejoy with five, blocks by Lovejoy with five and takeaways by Hischier and Zajac with two each.

It was a hard fought and well-earned win for the Devils and hopefully will jumpstart them as they take to the road for a western swing this week. They have the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday with an 8 PM puck drop. We will have that for you right here and hope you join us then. In the meantime, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.

Kings Defeat Devils in Kovalchuk’s Return

Ilya Kovalchuk played his first game in Newark last night since retiring from the NHL following the 2012-13 season and bailing to the KHL. He returned to the NHL this past summer, signing with the Los Angeles Kings and tonight was the Kings’ only visit to New Jersey this season.

And the fans were all over it. Kovalchuk was booed from the announcment of the Kings’ starting lineup to the final horn and every time he touched the ice (or the puck) in between. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the Devils fell to the Kings 5-1 as the Devils failed to string together another two wins. They were really killed by a two minute stretch at the beginning of the third period where the Kings just unloaded for three unanswered goals.

The Devils did get some good news on the injury front as Travis Zajac played after missing the trip to Montreal over the weekend. Zajac once again logged the most ice time for forwards at 20:03 (5:10 of power play time and 32 seconds on the penalty kill). Eric Gryba and Brett Seney were New Jersey’s healthy scratches and Cory Schneider returned to the New Jersey Devils following his rehab assignment down in Binghamton. Mackenzie Blackwood was sent back to the AHL team and Cory backed up Keith Kinkaid.

Kinkaid ended up stopping 20-of-25 shots against for an .800 save percentage. Opposing him was Jack Campbell, who stopped 29-of-30 for a .967 save percentage. He was named the game’s second star of the night.

The special teams situation for the Devils tonight was not pretty. LA went 1-for-3 on the power play with four shots and had two shorthanded shots. New Jersey was an abysmal 0-for-5 with the extra man, testing Campbell only three times, although they did register two shorthanded shots as well. After a few games where they seemed to be clicking on the power play, the Devils were back to their old ways, seemingly.

Adrian Kempe got the scoring started when beat Kinkaid from Carl Hagelin just 6:21 into the game. LA had jumped out to a lead that would last them until the second when Pavel Zacha notched his ninth of the year from Jesper Bratt and Drew Stafford. The goal came at 3:31 of the second period and came when Stafford worked the puck down low to Bratt. Bratt then made a nice behind-the-back no-look pass to Zacha in front. Zacha finished and the Devils had leveled things at one.

That is how the second period ended. Then that two minute stretch, which began just 32 seconds in to the third frame, when Tyler Toffoli scored from Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty to make it 2-1 Kings. At the 1:07 mark, Toffoli struck again, scoring from Michael Amadio and Brendan Leipsic to make it 3-1 LA. At the 1:52 mark, Dion Phaneuf scored his first of the season from Kopitar to make it 4-1 Los Angeles. Just like that, it seemed, the wheels had fallen off and the game was getting out of hand.

Things settled down and stayed stable until Kovalchuk scored his 11th of the year at 17:36 from Kopitar to make it 5-1, which was our final. At that point, the boo’s would have really rained down, were any Devils fans really left in the stands. The good majority of Devils faithful had fled for the exits and did not see Kovalchuk’s goal.

Following that outburst of LA offense, Toffoli was named the game’s first star while Kopitar was the third star.

There was a little bit of a scuffle late when Carl Hagelin shot a puck in on the Devils’ net just as the final buzzer was going off. That set off a meeting between the two teams at center ice and Hagelin was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the 20:00 mark of the third period.

So in the final assessment, the Devils out shot the Kings 30-25 and won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They also out hit Los Angeles 28-20. The Kings came away with more blocked shots at 16-12 and less giveaways at three to the Devils’ ten.

Individually, Damon Severson led all Devils skaters with 23:32 of ice time (5:25 on the PP and 1:58 killing penalties). Shots on goal saw Zajac, Blake Coleman, Kyle Palmieri, Miles Wood, Marcus Johansson and Andy Greene all lead with three shots each. Kurtis Gabriel and Kevin Rooney led in hits with six each, blocked shots were led by Greene with three and takeaways were led by Zajac, Palmieri, Johansson and Greene with two each.

For the record, Kovalchuk’s stat line ended at one goal for one point, a plus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal, one blocked shot and a giveaway in 13:59 of total ice time (including 3:00 on the power play). He did not win any of the faceoffs he took, though. So at least there’s that.

Next up, the Devils remain in Newark for this home stand as they take on the Islanders on Thursday at 7 PM. We will have that here for you and, of course, encourage you to leave a message in the comment section if you would like.

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.

Blackwood Records Second Straight Shutout, Devils Beat Canucks 4-0

Two days ago, Mackenzie Blackwood got his first NHL shutout. He became the sixth Devils rookie goalie to record a shutout joining the likes of Sean Burke and Martin Brodeur (the only two younger goalies to do it, respectively). Today, he upped the ante, earning his second consecutive shutout and in doing so becoming the first Devils goalie to do so since Marty Brodeur in April of 2010 and the first ever Devils rookie to record back-to-back shutouts. He also became the first NHL rookie goalie to turn this feat since John Gibson on December 29 and 31, 2015 – three years to the exact days. His shutout streak now stands at 125:55 as the Devils notched the 4-0 win at Prudential Center over the Vancouver Canucks.

And with all of that, the Devils have won three straight for the first time since the first three games of the season.

On this New Year’s Eve, Vancouver came in having gathered 15 points in their last ten games, going 7-2-1. The Devils stopped them cold, weathering a storm in the second period where the Canucks dominated. It was a good game for New Jersey and one where ten different Devils recorded points.

The Devils were still without Taylor Hall (day-to-day, lower body) and Marcus Johansson (who is skating but remains on injured reserve). The team also made the decision to assign defenseman Egor Yakovlev to Binghamton of the AHL. Mirco Mueller was the lone healthy scratch for the Devils.

As for the goaltending matchup, Blackwood made his third consecutive start for the Devils after it was announced earlier today that he was the NHL’s third star of the week for the week ending yesterday. He was also this game’s first star come the end of the night. He saw 25 Vancouver shots and turned them all aside. Opposing him was Anders Nilsson. He made 19 saves on 23 Devils shots.

While the big story for the Devils has been goaltending, there was another aspect of their game that, not coincidentally since goaltending plays a big part in it, has been great of late. That is their penalty killing. They held the Canucks 0-for-4 on the man advantage with just three shots. The Devils themselves went 2-for-3 with five power play shots and also added two shorthanded shots.

The Devils’ goals came in bunches: two in the first period and two in the third. The first goal was scored 12:03 into the game by Brian Boyle from Drew Stafford and Brett Seney. It happened when Boyle found Stafford’s rebound on the doorstep and buried it five-hole to record his tenth of the season for the game winner. It was 1-0 Devils and that was all they needed.

It became 2-0 on the power play when Miles Wood scored on the power play at 18:12 of the first from Sami Vatanen and Jesper Bratt. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat went off for tripping Seney and the Devils had their first power play opportunity of the afternoon. Bratt passed out of the near corner to Vatanen at the far point. Vatanen gave to Wood near the top of the near circle and he rocketed a shot upstairs to double the Devils’ lead.

New Jersey had to brace themselves for an attacking Canucks team in the second period, but Blackwood was there to close the door when needed. The third goal of the game came just 1:31 into the third period also on the power play when Vatanen scored from Wood and Damon Severson. This had been setup the previous period when Markus Granlund tripped up Nico Hischier leading to a Devils power play that would commence after a period of 4-on-4 (Vancouver was already on the PP) and carry over to the third.

On this goal, Wood broke into the Canucks’ zone on the rush and dropped the puck for a trailing Vatanen. He one-timed a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Nilsson stick side. It may have been deflected by Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler. It was now 3-0 Devils.

Pavel Zacha would put a bow on 2018 when he scored 2:05 later from Stefan Noesen and Steven Santini. Zacha, as per the coaching staff, has been shooting more of late and using his offensive weapons. This has translated into goals like the one he scored today when Noesen criss-crossed through the neutral zone, gained the offensive zone and dropped to Zacha just inside the Canucks’ blue line. Zacha fired the puck by Nilsson and made it 4-0 in what would be our final. That was also the final Devils goal of the 2018 calendar year.

A strange play late in the game as Vancouver’s Antoine Roussel pushed Severson into Blackwood with Severson’s skate going into Blackwood’s midsection. Blackwood was okay, but Roussel then proceeded to drop his gloves and attack Severson with Severson not being ready to fight. For his efforts, Roussel was given a two minute roughing minor that put New Jersey on the power play and a ten minute misconduct penalty.

Statistically, the Devils were out shot by Vancouver 25-23, won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had a whopping 32 hits to the Canucks’ 18, blocked ten more shots than the Canucks (18-8) and had 11 giveaways to Vancouver’s three.

Individually, Sami Vatanen, who was named the game’s third star, led the team in ice time with 22:27 (1:56 on the power play and 2:23 shorthanded) while Travis Zajac led the forwards (19:27, including 2:38 on the PP and 3:22 on the PK). Wood, who was the game’s second star, led in shots with four, Blake Coleman led in hits with five, Andy Greene led in blocked shots with four and Kyle Palmieri and Vatanen each registered a takeaway to lead there.

Next up for the Devils, they hit the road to begin 2019. They will be in Dallas to take on the Stars on January 2, Wednesday at 8:30 PM eastern. We will have coverage right here then but will also continue coverage of the 2019 World Junior Championship here tonight. Until then, Happy New Year and everybody have a safe and healthy 2019!

Blackwood Earns First Career Shutout; Devils Beat Hurricanes 2-0

It’s been a long time.

The Devils had not strung together back-to-back wins since November 13 and 15. Back then, they beat Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Today, they notched their second straight win after beating Boston on Thursday. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Kid’s Day at Prudential Center behind a spectacular performance from goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, a shorthanded goal from Pavel Zacha and a timely bit of luck.

The Devils are still without Taylor Hall, which makes this run of two games even more improbable to an extent. They are also missing Marcus Johansson and Cory Schneider, who according to Erika Wachter of MSG+, have started skating but remain on injured reserve. Joey Anderson remains on IR but has started off-ice workouts.

Mirco Mueller and Egor Yakovlev were the healthy scratches for New Jersey.

One other bit of business from the Boston game on Thursday is that the Bruins’ David Backes has received supplemental discipline for his illegal check to the head of Blake Coleman. Because he is a repeat offender, he was fined over $200,000 and will be banned for three games. That will include the New Year’s Day Winter Classic game for Boston as well.

That win in Boston was the Devils’ first since October 26, 2013 according to an MSG+ graphic and the Devils were looking to build on that game. One of their stars from that contest was Mackenzie Blackwood. He made a back-to-back start in this game, going today as well. He was brilliant. He stopped all 37 shots Carolina threw his way. But he also got some luck. The Canes had seemingly tied things up at one with an extra attacker on with 1:58 to go in the game. However, the goal was immediately waved off on the ice with the explanation of incidental goalie interference by Carolina’s Justin Williams. The contact through the crease was negligible, but he did bump into Blackwood’s stick.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour used his coach’s challenge to have this one overturned but the call was upheld when Toronto looked at it. It was just too much contact (albeit, as I said, negligible) to overturn the call. The Devils would get through that “storm” and Andy Greene emphatically slapped the puck into the empty net with 32 seconds left in the game to make it 2-0 Devils, which was our final.

For the Canes, journeyman Curtis McElhinney was between the pipes. He was equally good and stopped 28 of 29 Devils shots. With the empty netter, the Devils finsihed the game being outshot by Carolina 37-30.

The game winner came shorthanded off the stick of Zacha unassisted. That was set up when John Quenneville took a penalty for tripping Trevor van Riemsdyk at 17:26. With 36 seconds to go in the second period and two on the penalty, Zacha scored when he chipped an intercepted pass up ice and chased it. He shot and McElhinney made the initial save before Zacha chipped the rebound over McElhinney’s shoulder and top shelf to make it 1-0 Devils.

Special teams-wise, the Devils kept the Hurricanes 0-for-5 on the power play with five shots. Carolina also had two shorthanded shots. On the Devils’ side of the ledger, they went 0-for-3 on the power play with seven total shots but also added three shorthanded shots, one of which they scored on, as noted.

One scary moment was early in the game when linesman Tim Nowak was hit in the elbow by a puck and seemed injured enough for the Devils’ trainer to come out and look at him. He stayed in the game and continued officiating, showing that it takes the toughest of the tough to make a hockey game go.

For the Devils, statistically, they won 52-percent of the faceoffs but got out hit 20 to 11. The Canes also had more blocked shots (16 to 13) and less giveaways (nine to three).

Greene led all Devils’ skaters in ice time (25:13) which included 8:44 killing penalties. Travis Zajac led the forwards with 21:33 total (3:39 on the PP and 5:13 on the PK). Kyle Palmieri and Zacha led in shots with four each, Miles Wood and Will Butcher led in hits with two each, Sami Vatanen led in blocked shots with four and Ben Lovejoy led in takeaways with two.

Next up, the Devils will have a 1 PM matinee on New Year’s Eve at Prudential Center against the Vancouver Canucks. We will see you then and hope you join us later for a little bit of World Junior update. See you then!

Devils Win Big Over Sens, 5-2

The Devils played a very good game tonight. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but very, very good. They defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 in their first win in the back end of a back-to-back this season in seven tries. The game included one multi point nights for the top line of Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri and one of the wildest sequences leading to a goal that you will ever see.

The win followed some bad news as the Devils placed forward Marcus Johansson, who was just beginning to find his groove, on injured reserve with an upper body injury. He left the game at Columbus last night with the injury and now the team will be without him for some time. With that, John Hynes’ line experiment was put to an abrupt end. Taylor Hall was put back on the top line, reunited with Hischier and Palmieri. All that line did was accumulate nine total points on the evening.

The scratches for the Devils were Mirco Mueller, Egor Yakovlev and Stefan Noesen. Ottawa dressed seven D and 11 forwards.

In goal, the Devils went back to Keith Kinkaid between the pipes after Mackenzie Blackwood made his first start in Columbus. Kinkaid had been pulled in two of his last five starts, especially with the Devils giving up a cumulative 10 goals to two scored in the first period over those games. Tonight, though, he was spot on. He made 25 saves on 27 Senators shots. Facing him was Craig Anderson who made 20 saves on 25 shots. He was yanked in the third period in favor of former Devil Mike McKenna. McKenna stopped all seven of the shots he saw. The Devils finished the game with a total of 32 shots.

Things got off to a fast start as Miles Wood took a goalie interference penalty just 59 seconds into the game. The Devils, however, would strike first. It was Pavel Zacha scoring a shorthanded goal off a breakaway at 2:03 after Brian Boyle got it up to him and he chipped it by the Sens’ Thomas Chabot off the boards to himself and was off to the races. That gave the Devils the early 1-0 lead. From there, they would never look back.

Kyle Palmieri made it 2-0 from Hall and Hischier at 10:54 of the first when the Devils’ relentless forecheck kept the puck in the Senators’ zone and Hall won a puck battle in the near corner. He fed Palmieri at the top of the far faceoff circle and Palmieri sniped one by Anderson to double the New Jersey lead.

The Devils had the two goal lead heading into the first intermission, but if you will recall their debacle of a loss in Ottawa earlier in the season, they also held a two goal lead in that one before being blown out by the Sens.

And the Senators would seem to be back into things when Matt Duchene scored his first of two from Mark Stone and Chabot just 2:20 into the second period on the power play. Wood had taken a high sticking penalty on Ben Harpur at 1:52 to set that up. Overall on special teams, Ottawa was 1-for-5 with two shots on the night. The Devils were 1-for-3 with four power play shots and also four shorthanded shots, including the shorty goal.

The Devils would get that power play goal at the 4:07 mark of the second. It came when Harpur took a high sticking call on Palmieri and on the ensuing man advantage, Hall took a rink-wide pass from Palmieri and skated up the near boards in the Ottawa zone. He faked a drop pass to Will Butcher and elected to shoot, beating Anderson to make it 3-1 Devils.

Following that was one of the craziest and most unlikely goals you will ever see the Devils score. It began in the Devils’ zone. Sami Vatanen stopped a surefire Brady Tkachuk goal by coming across the crease when Kinkaid was down. Nico swept the puck out of the goal crease and it came out to Stone, who coughed the puck up to Palmieri. Palmieri then broke into the Sens’ zone on a 2-on-0 with Hall. He fed Hall the puck and Hall buried it to make it 4-1 New Jersey at the 5:19 mark of the second. Words cannot do this goal justice. If you have not seen it, check it out on YouTube or the NHL website. This was one of the craziest sequences I have ever seen in almost 30 years of following the Devils and the NHL. Just amazing.

The play was briefly reviewed by the situation room in Toronto to see if the puck did indeed cross the line before Vatanen saved it. There was also some concern that Nico had closed his hand on the puck in the crease, which would have been a penalty, but penalties cannot be reviewed by Toronto and I do not believe that Ottawa could have challenged for that. Either way, it did not seem on replay that he closed his hand on the puck anyway. The goal for the Devils stood.

Ottawa would again cut the lead down when they halved it to 4-2. Duchene scored on a delayed penalty against the Devils as the puck pinballed around the Devils zone and Duchene simply shoveled it into the open net. That goal came at 11:53 from Bobby Ryan and Christian Jaros.

The scoring would be rounded out when Nico Hischier joined his linemates in getting a goal at 18:58 of the second period. Hall and Butcher had the assists. It came just after the Devils had killed off a penalty and saw Nico shooting from a sharp angle, beating Anderson short side.

In the end, Nico was named the game’s third star with a goal and an assist, Palmieri was the second star with a goal and two assists while Hall was the first star with a pair of goals and two assists. Not a bad night for a line that would likely have been broken up had Marcus Johansson been good to go.

Statistically, the Devils out shot the Sens 32-27 but won only 48-percent of the game’s faceofffs. They out hit Ottawa 22 to 10 and blocked more shots at 10-4. They also ended up with one more giveaway with four to the Senators’ three.

Individually, Damon Severson was saddled with the big minutes tonight, playing 22:06 total (47 seconds on the power play and 2:43 killing penalties). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 19:54 (2:54 on the PP and 4:35 on the PK). Hall had the most shots of all Devils with six, while Wood (who played a feisty game – including getting a ten minute misconduct penalty at the end of the game when he and Mark Borowiecki squared off to fight but took too long before the linesmen jumped in) led in hits with five. Blocked shots were co-led by Butcher and Ben Lovejoy with two each and takeaways were led by Zajac with three.

Next up, one more before the Christmas break. It will be a home rematch against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Puck drop for that game is 12:30 PM in Newark and the Devils will be wearing their white, red and green “Heritage” uniforms for the first of four games this season. We will see you here with coverage of the game shortly after its conclusion.