It was a big day for hockey in Devils-land with the NCAA Men’s Division I tournament getting underway, the QMJHL playoffs continuing and the Devils themselves taking on the Red Wings in the Motor City.
We begin in Detroit where the Devils got shut out by the Wings, 4-0. This game was more interesting in the battle between the two teams trying to “Lose for Hughes.” This game would have a good impact on the rights to the loser getting better odds in the upcoming Draft Lottery.
On the roster front, the Devils were still without Sami Vatanen and also had Kurtis Gabriel and Egor Yakovlev out as scratches. One note for the Wings was young Jake Chelios – son of former Red Wing Chris – making his NHL debut tonight.
The goaltending situation was a weird one for Detroit. Jonathan Bernier began the game for the Wings, stopping all 21 shots he saw and getting the W (being the goalie of record). He would, however, leave after the second period due to what the team is calling an upper body injury. Jimmy Howard came in for the third period and stopped seven shots as the two goaltenders combined for the shut out. Mackenzie Blackwood went for the Devils, stopping 29-of-32 Detroit shots for a .906 save percentage on the night.
On special teams, both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play. Detroit had a pair of shots on the power play while the Devils had three (all against Bernier) and two shorthanded shots (both against Howard).
The Red Wings got the goal scoring kicked off when Danny DeKeyser scored at the 13:38 mark of the first from Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. That gave Detroit the 1-0 lead in the first period.
Larkin would put them up 2-0 at 2:21 of the second when he scored his 31st of the season from Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha. Larkin was named the game’s first star with the goal and the assist.
The Devils pulled Blackwood with a little bit more than two minutes remaining in regulation in an effort to get the game tied up and the Red Wings took advantage when Bertuzzi scored unassisted into the empty net at 17:25 to make it 3-0. Bertuzzi was named the game’s second star with that goal and two assists on the evening.
But the Wings were not done, as Andreas Athanasiou scored his 30th of the season with 18:33 gone in the third to make it 4-0. Martin Frk and DeKeyser had the assists. Athanasiou was the game’s third star as he continued to battle late for his goal even when the game was over.
The Devils got out shot 33-28 and lost 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They out hit the Red Wings 44-24 and had more blocks at 13-9. That was also the margin of Devils giveaways to Detroit giveaways (13 for the Devils to the Wings’ nine).
Shots on goal were led by Miles Wood with four. Hits were led by Blake Coleman with eight. Nico Hischier, Connor Carrick and Andy Greene all blocked two shots to lead in that category. Takeaways were led by Kenny Agostino, Coleman, Stefan Noesen, Michael McLeod and Carrick each with one apiece.
Next up, the Devils fly back to Newark tonight to take on the St. Louis Blues at home tomorrow. St. Louis (in part due their loss at the Rangers tonight) are still looking to clinch a playoff spot and the Devils will be looking for some revenge from their visit to St. Louis earlier in the season. That game is at 7 PM tomorrow and we will have coverage of the Devils’ penultimate home game for you right here.
Now off to the Quebec League where the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles stormed back to take a 3-2 series lead in game five by beating the Charlottetown Islanders 4-3 at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
Nikita Alexandrov scored the first goal of the game from Daniel Hardie and Lukaas Cormier on the power play 12:43 into the first period to give the Islanders the early 1-0 lead.
But Cape Breton would get four unanswered (all in the second period) from Shawn Boudrias, Shaun Miller, Derek Gentile and Mitchell Balmas to take the 4-1 lead.
Charlottetown tried to fight back, with Kevin Gursoy scoring at 5:07 of the third (with assists to Hardie and Xavier Bernard) to make it 4-2. Alexandrov scored again less than thirty seconds after that to make it 4-3, but that was as close as the Islanders got.
Alexandrov was named the game’s number one star with two goals while Declan Smith of Cape Breton (two assists) was the second star and Hardie (who assisted on all three Islanders goals) was the third star.
Bernard finished the game with the assist for one point, a minus-2 plus/minus rating, one shot on goal and two penalty minutes – a holding penalty 4:12 into the first that also drew an embellishment minor from the Screaming Eagles’ Miller.
Charlottetown finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and Cape Breton was 0-for-3. In nets, Kevin Mandolese made 33 saves on 36 shots for Cape Breton while Charlottetown’s Matthew Welsh stopped 21 of 25 shots.
Game six of this series is Sunday, March 31 and takes place at 7 PM ET at Cape Breton with the Screaming Eagles looking to close things out. We will have continuing coverage of that series for you then.
Finally, our tour of the continent takes us to Manchester, New Hampshire for two games featuring Devils prospects in the NCAA Men’s Tournament first round. FIrst up was Reilly Walsh and Harvard taking on UMass.
The Crimson fell in this one, 4-0 with UMass advancing to the next round of the tournament.
UMass got goals from Anthony Del Gaizo, John Leonard and a pair from Brett Boeing to notch the shut out win. Walsh was a minus-1 and had a shot on net in the loss.
Massachusetts was 0-for-3 on the power play while Harvard was 0-for-2. Michael Lackey made 32 saves on 36 shots against while UMass’s Filip Lindberg had a relatively easy night, stopping all 17 Harvard shots he saw in getting the shut out.
UMass will now go on to face another Devils prospect in the quarterfinals as Notre Dame took out Clarkson, 3-2 in overtime to advance.
The Fighting Irish got goals from Cam Morrison, Bobby Nardella and Colin Theisen while Clarkson could only muster one from Haralds Egle and Marly Quince.
Matt Hellickson was a minus-2 with one shot in the game.
In goal, Notre Dame’s Cale Morris made 20 saves on 22 shots by Clarkson. Clarkson’s Jake Kielly was 35-for-39 in net. Clarkson was 0-for-4 on the power play while the Irish were 0-for-3.
As mentioned, Notre Dame will now face off with UMass in the quarterfinals. This game is tomorrow night at 6:30 PM ET. We will have coverage of that one plus Jeremy Davies and Northeastern taking on Cornell tomorrow at 4:30 PM as well. Also tomorrow is game five of the Portland Winterhawks-Spokane Chiefs series in the WHL. In the meantime, have a great weekend everyone!