The Devils had a good night, defeating the Detroit Red Wings to sweep the season series from them and give goalie Cory Schneider his first win in eleven months. The Devils prevailed 4-1.
The first game for the Devils following the trade deadline saw the lineup with a new look. In was defenseman Fredrik Claesson. Sent back to Binghamton were Nick Merkley and Colton White. Up from Binghamton was Michael McLeod, who centered the fourth line with Kevin Rooney and John Hayden on the wings. Claesson played on the third defense pairing with Connor Carrick. Will Butcher remains out with injury and was the only scratch.
One other player in the lineup for the Devils was Kyle Palmieri, who was not traded yesterday. Interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said that if Palmieri was to be traded, it was have had to have been a deal that “blew his socks off” as he was not actively shopping Palmieri and wanted him around as a veteran presence.
Much like McLeod, who was playing in his 27th NHL game tonight, Cory Schneider was making a return. Cory ended the night stopping 27 of 28 shots against for a .964 save percentage. Tonight’s game was his first appearance in an NHL net since January 18 in a loss at Columbus, he had been playing great in the AHL. This was his first win at the NHL level since last March 25, eleven months to the day. Congratulations to him.
Facing him was Jonathan Bernier, who scared some Red Wings fans early when he was helped to the bench, seeming to favor his right leg. It turned out that the blade had popped out of his skate and he just needed that repaired, however. He made 27 saves on 31 Devils shots for an .871 nightly save percentage.
Detroit had lost six of their last seven and the Devils had won six of their last nine. The Wings were also 0-18-1 versus Metropolitan Division opponents this season in this horrific season so far for them (they were the first team in the NHL to be eliminated from playoff contention last week). Let’s see how this one turned into a Devils victory.
Just following the aforementioned skate mishap to Bernier, at just 1:15 into the game, Joey Anderson made it 1-0 New Jersey. It came off of a faceoff loss by the Devils. Anderson picked the puck out of the scrum, however, and got it to Dakota Mermis at the point. He shot and the rebound came back to Anderson. The rebound was guided back to Anderson, who shot again and scored this time. The secondary assist on the goal was Mermis’ first NHL point. Congrats to him on the milestone.
The Devils took that lead into the first intermission. Then, 6:04 into the second, Jesper Bratt made it 2-0 when he scored on the power play. The Anderson goal was the only goal of this game to be scored at even strength as we shall see. Frans Nielsen was called for a hold against Nico Hischier to put the Devils on the advantage.
On the goal, Pavel Zacha took a no-look pass from Nikita Gusev at the point. He fired and the rebound came right out to Bratt who scored. The secondary assist from Gusev gives him five assists in the last three games.
Almost three minutes later, at 8:51, the Devils again notched one on the power play, this time from Palmieri. Dylan Larkin was gone for a delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass. On the ensuing power play, Jack Hughes played catch with Damon Severson. Hughes got it back and found a seam to Palmieri at the side of the net. He laid it up to give the Devils a 3-0 lead just as the penalty was about to expire.
That is how it was going into the third period.
The third started with some trouble that would come to a head later the game. Robby Fabbri and Hughes came together on a knee-on-knee collision. Hughes took a run at Fabrri that led to him going off for tripping at 9:06.
The Red Wings scored on that power play when, at 9:40, Larkin passed to Tyler Bertuzzi in front of the net, he made a slick one-touch pass to Valtteri Filppula at the side of the net. Filppula shoved the puck in to make it 3-1 Devils.
The Wings had clawed back into things, but the Devils put the capper on it at 13:40 when Gusev scored on a… wait for it… power play. Larkin was caught with a hook on Severson and he was off for two. The goal came when Zacha passed to Gusev, finding a narrow seam. Gusev took the puck, turned around and fired on net, beating Bernier to make it 4-1, the final.
Overall, on the power play, the Devils went 3-for-5 with nine shots. They also had a pair of shorthanded shots to go with that. Detroit was 1-for-4 with two shots on the power play and had a single shorthanded shot.
Remember that play involving Fabbri and Hughes from earlier? Well, Fabbri left for the locker room and did not return. The Wings took exception to Hughes’ actions and targeted him the rest of the night. Bertuzzi took a shot at Hughes late, with less than a minute left, and all hell broke loose.
John Hayden gave Bertuzzi a high-stick to the face, jumping in to protect Hughes. Bertuzzi and PK Subban got into it, a confrontation that ended with Bertuzzi throwing one of his gloves at Subban. In the end, Bertuzzi and Subban each received a misconduct penalty. The officials reviewed the Hayden play and awarded him a five-minute cross-checking major and a game misconduct.
The Red Wings finished the game on a five-minute power play, but it was too little too late for them. The game ended in a Devils win.
The Devils outshot the Wings 31-28, won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs (Travis Zajac won a whopping 82-percent of his draws to pace all Devils centers), had 12 blocked shots to the Red Wings’ ten and had less turnovers at seven to nine. Detroit did outhit the Devils, 26-11.
Zacha was named the third star of the night (with two assists for two points) while Bratt was the second. Gusev, with two points (a goal and an assist) on the night, was the game’s first star.
Subban led the Devils’ skaters on time on ice with 23:00 (5:23 on the power play and 2:10 killing penalties included). Hischier led the forwards with 19:44 total (3:59 on the PP and 1:17 on the PK included).
Bratt led in shots on goal with four. Hits were led by McLeod with three. Blocks by Severson and Subban with two each and takeaways by Gusev and Nico with one apiece.
So it was a pretty solid game for the Devils against an inferior opponent. They will be seeing the Sharks again on Thursday for their next game. This will be the second meeting between the teams in a week, as they met last Thursday at Prudential Center. The game in San Jose will see puck drop at 10:30 PM ET. We will have coverage for you right here. Until then, have a great week everyone!