Palmieri Nets Hat Trick but Devils Lose in OT

The Devils have had a rough October to say the least. Tonight, they held Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos off the scoresheet, outshot their opponents 42 to 23 and Kyle Palmieri scored his first hat trick as a New Jersey Devil, but they still fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime 7-6.

Some roster moves to get to first. Jesper Bratt was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last game way back last week. Sitting in his place was Nikita Gusev, who the Devils felt could use some time up in the press box watching the game with team legend Patrik Elias, who would help him see the NHL game a little bit better. Mirco Mueller and Jesper Boqvist were also scratched.

Connor Carrick will be out for four to six weeks following having surgery on his broken right pinkie finger. However, the Devils did bring Will Butcher back into the lineup following his activation off of the IR the other day. It was his first game since October 17. Butcher would be on the third pairing with Matt Tennyson.

One player who rewarded his being reinserted into the lineup was Bratt. He played primarily on a line with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha as the second line combo. He would reward the coaching staff’s decision to bring him back in by scoring two goals tonight and playing a good overall game.

Tampa, on the other hand, would be without some key parts of their lineup. Victor Hedman and Patrick Maroon were both injured last night in the Lightning’s game at the Garden against the Rangers.

The Devils got on the board early – just 1:10 into the game when Palmieri scored his first of the game on the power play. Kevin Shattenkirk had taken a delay of game penalty just 33 seconds in and the Devils capitalized when Taylor Hall shot from the far faceoff circle and Wayne Simmonds grabbed the rebound on the side of the net. He calmly passed to Palmieri in front. He buried it and the Devils had the 1-0 lead.

But with an offense like Tampa’s, no matter how slow a start they have gotten off to, no lead is safe. At the 9:28 mark of the first, Ondrej Palat, on a delayed penalty against the Devils, took a cross ice pass from Shattenkirk and beat Cory Schneider. Brayden Point had the other assist. The game was now knotted at one.

Tampa would grab a lead in the draining minutes of the first on the power play. Nico Hischier was called for a hold and the Lightning power play went to work. Alex Killorn took a pass from Shattenkirk in the skates and, in one motion, turned and fired, giving the Bolts the 2-1 lead going into the first intermission. Tyler Johnson had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils would start the second period with about 10 seconds of overlapping power play time, but could not convert. They would finish the night 1-for-5 with nine shots on the power play and one shorthanded shot. Tampa was one-for-one on the power play with one shot. They also had a shorthanded shot that was turned aside by Cory.

And New Jersey would get another goal, 6:05 into the second, that, while not officially counting as a power play goal, did come as a penalty was expiring. Jesper Bratt swooped into the high slot to put a rebound in after Lightning goalie Curtis McElhinney made several stops on Nico right in front. That tied the game at two and was the first of two in the period for Jesper Bratt. Zacha and Hischier had the assists.

Damon Severson made a nice defensive play midway through the second period. Johnson had a partial breakaway and Severson cut down the angle, avoided a penalty and swept the puck to safety.

Just after that, at the 11:48 mark of the second, Point scored on a fortuitous bounce for the Lightning. Nico lost his stick and Tampa quickly got the puck on net. Cory made the initial save but the rebound bounced right to Point and he scored to give the Bolts back the lead at 3-2. Johnson and Mikhail Sergachev had the assists on this one.

But, less than a minute later, the Devils tied the game up once again. At 12:17, Palmieri scored his second of the game when Butcher wristed one from the point and Palmieri redirected it in. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist for his second point of the night as well.

The Devils retook the lead for the first time since the first period 59 seconds later when Bratt got his second of the night at 13:16. Nico won the faceoff deep in the Tampa zone cleanly back to Andy Greene (who was celebrating his 37th birthday) and he gave the puck to Bratt. Bratt then curled at the half wall and shot. He beat McElhinney cleanly, although at first it appeared that Hischier had redirected it in. It was now 4-3 New Jersey.

Late in the second, Cory made a nice save on Sergachev as he was coming out of the penalty box on a breakaway. That kept the score 4-3.

Just 1:13 into the third period, Sami Vatanen gave the Devils a 5-3 lead. It was all hard work by Simmonds as he got the puck to the net, grabbed the rebound, boxed out the Tampa defender and passed it to Vatanen. Vatanen then simply walked right in and beat McElhinney to make it 5-3 Devils.

The Devils seemed to be in the driver’s seat, but, especially in this season and especially with the Lightning, no lead is safe for New Jersey.

The comeback began when Anthony Cirelli scored at 2:45 of the third. Tampa got the puck to the point to Jan Rutta. He shot on Cory and seemed to beat him, but replays showed that Cirelli had tipped it by him. Mathieu Joseph had the other assist. It was now 5-4 Devils.

The Devils continued to apply sustained pressure in the Tampa zone, but all it took was a Joseph shot redirecting in off of Hall’s skate and stick to tie the game at five. That goal came at the 7:45 mark of the second and Cirelli had the lone assist.

Then disaster struck when PK Subban’s stick failed him on a shot attempt from the Tampa blueline. The Lightning grabbed the puck and were off to the races. Point got it to Ondrej Palat, who roofed it over Schneider for his second of the game and made it 6-5 Tampa.

The stunned Devils could not seem to catch a break. Severson hit the post late in the third and they seemed headed for another regulation loss.

But, with about eight seconds left in regulation, with Cory pulled for the extra attacker, it was Palmieri to the rescue. He completed his first hat trick as a Devil (he has a second NHL hat trick that came with the Ducks) when Simmonds, again with great work along the boards, got the puck to Butcher at the point. He fired and McElhinney gave up a big fat, juicy rebound in front that Palmieri was able to clean up and, miraculously tie the game at six.

Once the next seven or so seconds expired, we were headed to OT.

Unfortunately, all it takes in OT in the NHL is to lose possession and things can change in a heartbeat. And that is exactly what happened when Palat took a shot that rebounded right to Johnson’s stick. He beat Cory to give the Lightning the 7-6 win in overtime. Ryan McDonagh had the other assist on the game-winner.

In the end, seven Devils had a multi-point night (Hall, Hischier, Simmonds, Palmieri, Bratt, Greene and Butcher). Palmieri was named the game’s first star while Bratt was the second (Tampa’s Palat was the third).

In goal, Schneider made 16 stops on 23 shots total for Tampa for a .696 save percentage. McElhinney turned aside 36 of the 42 pucks the Devils threw on net for a .857 save percentage.

The Devils won 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had 19 hits to the Bolts’ 16, blocked 12 shots to Tampa’s 10 and had seven giveaways to two for the Lightning.

Vatanen led all New Jersey skaters in ice time with 24:04 (4:58 on the power play and 1:24 shorthanded) while Hall led the forwards with 21:21 (5:21 with the man advantage). Palmieri led in shots on goal with eight, Simmonds led in hits with four, Greene led in blocks with three and Jack Hughes and Severson were the leaders in takeaways with two apiece.

So the Devils finish up October with a paltry 2-5-3 record (seven points) putting them last in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully things can begin to change on November 1 when the Flyers come to town to take on the Devils.

The Devils will now be settling into a more normal schedule, playing 16 games over the next 32 days (or roughly every other day). Maybe that will be enough to get things rolling for them. We will find out starting on Friday.

Despite Hughes’ Three Points, Devils Fall to Coyotes

Well, Devils hockey was back tonight after a five-day layoff. That’s the good news, the bad news is that despite Jack Hughes’ three-point night, Sami Vatanen’s two-point night and outshooting them 35-17, the Devils lost to the Arizona Coyotes 5-3.

Some roster notes to get to first, as Connor Carrick got injured (upper body) at practice yesterday and was placed on injured reserve. Will Butcher came off of IR but (he was only out for the Vancouver game with his upper body injury) but did not play tonight. Nico Hischier also returned after missing a handful of games.

In addition to Butcher, the two Jespers, Bratt and Boqvist, were the healthy scratches tonight. Coach John Hynes shuffled the lines up a little bit, moving Hughes to center a line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri as the top unit. Nico was shifted down to play with Pavel Zacha and Nikita Gusev.

Today was the 12th anniversary of the opening of the Prudential Center and the Devils were trying to win three straight for the first time since December of 2018 as well. The Coyotes came in with a decent record of 5-3-1 to begin the season and they would spoil the party at the Rock.

The game began with Damon Severson making a good play on an Arizona 2-on-1. He went down to block the pass and was able to time it perfectly, breaking up the play.

Arizona goalie Antti Raanta was great all night, keeping the Yotes in the game when the Devils were really pressuring. After Hughes missed an open net midway through the first (an Arizona player got a stick on the puck), Wayne Simmonds – who is really having a rough go of things points-wise – was stopped point-blank by Raanta.

The Devils did take the 1-0 lead at the 16:29 mark of the first when PK Subban made an impressive diving play to keep the puck in the Coyotes’ zone. Subban got the puck to Hughes at the near half wall. He then passed it across to Vatanen, who shot and it deflected in off of a Coyotes player. It was the first point of the night for both Vatanen and Hughes, who had multi-point nights.

The Devils doubled up their lead at the 18:26 mark of the first when Hughes notched his second NHL goal and first power play goal. It was set up when Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for hooking Hischier and the Devils went on the power play. On this one, Vatanen took the puck just inside the Coyotes’ blueline and dished off to Taylor Hall. Hall then found a nice seam cross-ice to Hughes, who snapped the shot by Raanta to make it 2-0.

But as has been a problem for the Devils this year so far, they would give up a goal in the final seconds of the period. Nick Schmaltz made it 2-1 with just 16 seconds to go in the first period. Arizona was able to funnel the puck to Schmaltz, who was camped out in the high slot. He fired and beat Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to get Arizona within one. For Blackwood, this goal ended 97:21 of shutout hockey. Ekman-Larsson and Jason Demers had the assists on the goal.

The Devils would give up a shorthanded goal to one of the best in the business just 2:01 into the second to tie the game at two apiece. Arizona was killing a Carl Soderberg tripping penalty when Michael Grabner got by PK Subban at the Yotes blueline and was off to the races. He went forehand-backhand to beat Blackwood and had his 22nd career shorthanded goal. Demers had the lone assist on this one.

The Devils would retake the lead at 13:07 of the second when Matt Tennyson dug the puck out of the near corner in the Devils’ zone. He backhanded it to Hughes who sent a stretch pass to Pavel Zacha, who was streaking through the neutral zone. Zacha fired the puck by Raanta to give the Devils back the 3-2 lead.

But before that goal could even be announced to the crowd, the Coyotes responded.

Thirty-one seconds after the Zacha goal, Ekman-Larsson snapped a puck by Blackwood after the Devils failed to clear the zone. Lawson Crouse had the lone assist. The game was again knotted, this time at three.

Then things got worse, just 1:45 into the third, Barrett Hayton notched his first career NHL goal when Schmaltz broke into the Devils’ zone and dropped to the trailing Hayton. Hayton fired by Blackwood to score the eventual game winning goal. It was now 4-3.

A critical play late in the period as Tennyson hit the post on a one-time attempt led to the Devils pulling Blackwood with 1:57 to go. Clayton Keller added an empty net goal (assists to Phil Kessel and Demers had the assists – giving Demers his third helper of the night). That gave us our final of 5-3.

The Devils played a good game, especially that first period, but just let Arizona hang around. The Devils were 1-for-5 on the power play with 11 shots and had one shorthanded shot. They kept the Coyotes 0-for-3 with the man advantage, limiting them to not a shot. Arizona did have the one shorthanded shot, which Grabner scored on. Blackwood stopped 12 of the 16shots that he saw for a .750 save percentage. The Yotes had the extra shot into the empty net. Raanta was 32-for-35 for a .914 save percentage.

The Devils got back on track in the faceoff circle, winning 53-percent of the game’s draws. They were outhit 23 to 14, had eight blocked shots to Arizona’s 12 and had more giveaways at seven to the Coyotes’ five.

Subban led all Devils skaters in ice time with 25:22 (1:28 on the power play and 57 seconds on the PK) while Hall led the forwards with 21:07 (4:12 on the PP). Hughes led in points with his three (a goal and two assists) and Simmonds led in shots with five. Hits were led by Hall, John Hayden, Simmonds and Severson with two each. Blocked shots were led by Andy Greene with two and takeaways were led by Hall and Greene with two apiece.

So, following that, the Devils will have another four days off as they gear up for the Tampa Bay Lightning next Wednesday, October 30. We will see you then with coverage of that game.

Subban Brings Blueline Buddies to Newark

In a press release put out by the Devils today, PK Subban has announced that his “Blueline Buddies” program will be coming with him to Newark.

PK started the program in Nashville while he was with the Predators and will continue it in New Jersey with the Devils. He had previously mentioned this in a preseason fan event.

The program brings four guests hosted by Subban to the Prudential Center to each Devils home game. The four guests consist of “two police officers from the precincts throughout Newark, and two youth from the Newark community.” They will then be treated “to dinner provided on behalf of Prudential Center’s concessionaire partner, Legends.” They will also “enjoy the game in great seats” and meet Subban both before the game and after it. Also, every attendee “of the program will receive a custom, one-of-a-kind Blueline Buddies t-shirt” courtesy of Adidas – with whom Subban works very closely as a spokesperson.

According to the press release, the program begins tonight with the home game against the Arizona Coyotes.

Furthermore, the press release states that later this year, “the Devils Grassroots department will host a charity hockey game with law enforcement, where proceeds will go back to the program.”

The press release says that the idea for the program, which Subban started in Nashville in cooperation with the Metro Nashville Police Department, came to him while watching the news. He felt that he wanted to do his part “to try and make a difference.” He began the program to bring together members of the Nashville police force “with a mentor or representative from a local organization and an underprivileged youth.”

Subban was quoted in the press release as saying: “I think it’s important for athletes to set a tone in a way that we’re looking to build bridges. That doesn’t take away from anybody’s right to do what they want to do or how they want to exercise their rights as an American citizen, but I think it’s really important for us to be role models in terms of building bridges and being a part of the solution to social issues and different things that go on in our community.”

The release mentioned that one of Subban’s best friends is a police officer and that the goal of the program is to build a rapport between youth and law enforcement.

Subban mentioned that “our law enforcement, these are people that leave their houses and may not come back at the end of the night. That’s the job that they have, so to make them feel good, and to also be able to help underprivileged youth that don’t get an opportunity like everyone else, that come from broken homes, it’s win-win.”

Brodeur Goes into Canadian Sports Hall; Smith to Play in Canada-Russia Series

Martin Brodeur, three-time Stanley Cup champ, four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Calder Trophy winner, the NHL’s all-time wins and shutouts leader, Olympic gold medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer, has yet another set of accolades to add to his list. He was enshrined into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame earlier this morning in Toronto.

The Devils great was also awarded the Order of Sport in Canada.

According to the Hall of Fame’s website, Brodeur went in with other members of the Class of 2019, which included: freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau, para Nordic skier Colette Bourgonje, builder Doug Mitchell, rowing builder Guylaine Bernier, female hockey player Jayna Hefford, swimmer Vicki Keith and water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller.

In an interview on the Devils’ official app and website with Amanda Stein, Brodeur said “it’s a great honor” and that he does not really consider himself a “big athlete” due to him playing a team sport and not an individual sport like many of the others inducted.

On the topic of international competition, he told Stein that the Team Canada jersey was special to him because of his father. Denis Brodeur, of course, represented Canada in the 1956 Olympics. Brodeur told Stein that he did not really think the Olympics were in his future due to being a professional athlete. When the NHL let its players go to the Olympics, it was a dream come true for him.

In his conversation with Stein, the former Devils netminder also touched on being a recipient of the Order of Sport in Canada. This award recognizes athletes who have given back to their communities and Marty mentioned that, as a professional hockey player, making so much money, you need to give back. He said that he gave back in his playing days and tries to give back today. He clarified that his work is done, not just in New Jersey, but also in his hometown of Montreal.

Marty joked in his induction speech that “as a hockey player, you don’t really think about sports. It is a game.” He mentioned that “winning is all fun, but what you do for your fans is more important” as he discussed working with kids who were and are fans of his.

In other Devils news, Ty Smith will be representing the Western Hockey League (and serve as one of their captains) during the Canada-Russia Series in November. This is according to a report by Peter Robinson on the Devils’ official app.

The Canada-Russia series, which pits an all-star team from each of the three Canadian Hockey League major junior leagues (the WHL, OHL and QMJHL) against a touring team of Russian junior all-stars, serves as a bit of a tune-up for the World Junior Championship that takes place the week after Christmas. Smith plays for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL.

On the topic of the World Juniors, Mark Hunter, co-owner of the London Knights of the OHL and general manager of Team Canada, was quoted by Robinson as saying that “Ty Smith is going to be a big part of our team. He and (Detroit Red Wings prospect) Joe Veleno were there last year and wouldn’t have liked how it ended. We’ll be counting on them to lead us.”

For his part, Smith told Robinson: “It was still a great experience, I’m looking forward to getting another opportunity especially with what happened last year. We weren’t happy with the result.” (Canada lost in overtime to Finland in the quarterfinals and ended up finishing sixth in a tournament that is extremely scrutinized in the nation.)

Congratulations to both Martin Brodeur and Ty Smith on these well-deserved honors.

Family Feud: Devils Beat Canucks 1-0

If last Thursday was hyped up due to it being the first meeting between Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes and the reignition of the Devils-Rangers rivalry, today was just as important. It was the first meeting at the NHL level between Jack Hughes’ Devils and his brother Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Devils won the game 1-0 powered by Jack’s first NHL goal and Mackenzie Blackwood’s 25 saves.

The Devils got a big part of their defense back when Andy Greene was back in the lineup. Connor Carrick was out on the blueline as a healthy scratch, joining Jesper Boqvist up front. Nico Hischier also remains out with injury.

Vancouver seemingly got on the board first when a Jay Beagle shot beat Blackwood with 16:07 to go in the first. The goal was immediately waved off on the ice and as the whistle had blown before the puck entered the net. The score remained 0-0.

A little while later, the Devils and Jack Hughes would get exactly what they needed in this young season.

The Canucks’ Tyler Myers was called for a hold on John Hayden setting the Devils up on the power play.

At the 14:08 mark, Taylor Hall curled around the far half wall, dropped to Sami Vatanen at the point. Hall and Vatanen played catch just inside the Vancouver line and Hall took a few steps in. He skated to the far faceoff dot and found a cross-ice seam to Hughes, who was camped out at the near faceoff dot. He took the pass and wristed one by Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

It was just the second Devils power play goal of the year and Jack Hughes’ first NHL goal. And it would last.

The Devils ended the afternoon 1-for-4 on the power play with eight shots. The Devils also had a trio of shorthanded shots. The Canucks were 0-for-7 with the man advantage, firing nine shots at Blackwood. They also had a shot down a man.

Midway through the second period, Alexander Edler hit Blake Coleman up high, resulting in a penalty. This also resulted in the unlikely situation of Mirco Mueller coming to his defense and fighting Brandon Sutter. Mueller took the extra two minutes for roughing, which left us with four-on-four play for the next two minutes.

Vancouver would pull Demko late in the third but the Devils weathered the storm (and more than a few icings as they fired for the empty net at the other end).

In the end, the Devils got the two points with the 1-0 win. Demko was named the game’s third star, stopping 23 of the Devils’ 24 shots for a .958 save percentage. Blackwood was the second star with the shutout and Jack Hughes was named the game’s first star with his family and friends in attendance. He scored the game-winner and the only goal in the inaugural “Hughes Bowl.” Round one to Jack.

Statistically, the Devils got absolutely murdered in the faceoff circle, winning a paltry 34-percent of the game’s draws. They were also outhit 13 to 12, but managed more blocks at 23 to 12 and less giveaways at five to Vancouver’s seven.

For comparison, Jack Hughes’ statline read: the goal for a point, an even plus/minus, a shot on goal, a block, a giveaway and a 31-percent faceoff average. He had 13:50 of ice time, including 5:30 on the power play.

Quinn Hughes, who is a defenseman, so admittedly, this is apples-to-oranges here, had two penalty minutes (a holding call against Coleman in the third period), a blocked shot and a takeaway in 22:41 of total ice time, including 6:01 on the PP.

For the Devils individually, Wayne Simmonds led in shots on goal with six while Coleman led in hits with four. Andy Greene, back in the lineup and back to his old form, blocked five shots to lead there while Simmonds also led in takeaways with a pair. Vatanen led in ice time with 26:35 total (6:15 on the power play and 8:32 shorthanded) and Coleman led the forwards with 19:44 total (8 minutes on the penalty kill in what was a really tightly called game by the officials).

So now, the Devils get five days off before their next game. That comes on Friday, October 25 at home against the Arizona Coyotes. So, with some time to rest, regroup, and bask in the glow of a two-game winning streak, New Jersey will hopefully come out of the starting blocks roaring next week.

In the meantime, congratulations to Jack Hughes and we will see you next Friday for Devils-Coyotes.

Devils Sign Hischier to Extension

The Devils PR department today sent out a press release saying that center Nico Hischier has been signed to a seven-year extension with an average annual value of $7.25 million. The total value according to press release is $50,750,000 and the contract will run through 2026-27.

The press release breaks down the contract as: $7,000,000 for 2020-21, $7.250,000 for 2021-22, $4,500,000 for 2022-23, $7,750,000 for 2023-24, $7,750,000 for 2024-25, $8,000,000 for 2025-26 and $8,500,000 for 2026-27.

Devils GM Ray Shero said: “Nico is a special person who possess [sic] a team-first mentality combined with an inner drive to succeed. The entire organization is thankful to him and his family for believing in our future. We are excited that he will continue to play a prominent role with us for many years to come.”

For his part, Hischier told the Devils website: “I like the direction the organization is going in and the confidence they give me is all a player can ask for. We have a young, exciting team, and I am driven to try my best to help the team succeed every day. I was really welcomed here from day one, and I have always felt that I wanted to be a part of the Devils.”

The 2017 first overall pick “is in his third season with the Devils’ organization” but is currently out with an injury suffered last Monday against the Florida Panthers. He has proven to be durable otherwise, having played in all 82 games during his rookie season in 2017-18.

The Brig, Switzerland native has 37 goals and 64 assists in his three-year career (totaling 101 points – he recently recorded his 100th NHL point at Buffalo on October 5 according to the presser).

This contract is pretty team friendly with many fans already calling it a steal. Nico is a very good two-way forward already with room to grow, so getting a contract for him that is roughly comparable to Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes’ new contract extension is great. This also locks up Nico through the beginning of his prime. The Devils have one of their key core players locked up for the next near-decade with enough room to spend to make the team better otherwise.

Devils Earn First Win of Season, Defeat Rangers 5-2

There is life in the Devils afterall! After being the last winless team in the NHL for the 2019-20 season, they finally earned two points after defeating the rival New York Rangers 5-2 tonight at Prudential Center.

Things did not come without some changes. Tom Fitzgerald, the Devils’ Assistant General Manager, was called into assistant coaching service at the request of head coach John Hynes. According to Chris Westcott of the Devils’ official website, he was brought in to serve as “an extra set of eyes for the coaching staff” and will stay in this role “for the foreseeable future.”

This came with the news that Nico Hischier has not been skating with the team due to the injury he suffered against Florida this past Monday. Andy Greene, according to the same tweet sent out by the Devils on Nico, did skate yesterday. He remains on injured reserve.

Slotting in to the lineup tonight were Kevin Rooney and John Hayden up front. Connor Carrick and Jesper Boqvist were the healthy scratches joining Nico.

Things seemed like business as usual for the Devils when New York’s Tony DeAngelo scored 6:02 into the game. The Rangers got the puck on net from the point and were just able to swarm in on Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. The Devils had some defensive coverage issues here and there were just too many white jerseys around their net. DeAngelo put the puck in to make it 1-0 Rangers.

But the Devils would strike to tie things up before the period was through. Blake Coleman took an Adam Fox turnover in the neutral zone and skated in all alone on Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. He fired a shot that funneled through Georgiev’s equipment and in to tie it up at one. Travis Zajac and Matt Tennyson had the assists on the goal that came at 12:58 of the first period.

The second period saw a couple of firsts of the season for the Devils. First, at 2:13, the Rangers’ Brady Skjei took an interference penalty to put the Devils on the power play. New Jersey had yet to score on the man advantage this season, but Kyle Palmieri would put an end to that. Grabbing a loose puck off a Rangers’ zone faceoff, Palmieri skated around a New York defender and went top shelf over Georgiev to make it 2-1. The goal came just five seconds into the power play at 2:18 of the second period and was unassisted.

About midway through the second, Taylor Hall laid a huge hit on Fox that took him out of the game and gave Hall a roughing penalty. The Rangers ended the game 0-for-6 on the power play with seven shots. The Devils were 1-for-7 with 13 shots plus two shorthanded shots (including a Pavel Zacha breakaway in the latter part of the second period that was stopped by Georgiev).

Miles Wood made it 3-1 Devils before the end of the second at 12:25. This goal featured the first NHL point of one Jack Hughes. Matt Tennyson – who ended the night with a pair of assists for two points on the night – fired a puck from the point that was redirected in the slot by Hughes. His redirection then went in the goal off of Wood’s butt, giving Hughes the primary assist on the goal. Congratulations to Jack Hughes on his first NHL point and here’s to many more! Hughes was playing on the top line with Hall and Palmieri primarily.

The problem for the Devils this season so far has not been getting a lead, it has been keeping the lead. This situation reared its ugly head again when Jesper Fast hammered home a puck going through Blackwood’s crease just 2:22 into the third period to cut the Devils lead to 3-2.

The Devils seemingly made it 4-2 at 12:52 of the third when Hall, who was playing a really feisty game, tapped Georgiev’s glove as he covered the puck, knocking it into the net. Unfortunately for Hall, the whistle had already blown and the call on the ice was no goal due to goalie interference. The Devils challenged the call and it stood, meaning that they took a penalty on top of it.

But tonight, the Devils would not be denied victory. Nikita Gusev grabbed an errant Artemi Panarin pass in the Rangers’ zone and skated in all alone on Georgiev, putting the puck five-hole to double the Devils’ lead to 4-2.

With about three and a half minutes to go in the game, Wayne Simmonds took a hooking penalty to put the Rangers on the power play. They then immediately pulled Georgiev to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. The Devils were given an open gallery to shoot on the empty net due to the lack of icing. But it would be after the penalty was killed off that PK Subban scored into the empty net at 19:12 of the third to give the Devils a 5-2 lead. The goal was unassisted and was PK’s first as a Devil, so congrats to him too.

The Devils would finish the game on the power play with DeAngelo going off for a slashing penalty at 19:52. The 5-2 lead held up and the Devils had their first win of 2019-20.

In goal, Blackwood (who was named the game’s first star with Hughes the second and Tennyson the third) stopped 29 of the 31 Ranger shots he saw for a .935 save percentage. Georgiev turned aside 33 of the 37 shots the Devils peppered him with for an .892 save percentage.

The Devils won only 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs, but registered more hits than New York at 17 to 11. The Rangers had nine blocked shots to the Devils’ six and less giveaways at seven to the Devils’ eight.

Individually, Subban led in shots on goal with a whopping nine while Simmonds, Coleman and Palmieri each had three hits to lead in that category. Blocks were spread out over Rooney, Simmonds, Coleman, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen who each had one apiece. Takeaways were led by Rooney, Zajac and Hughes with two each.

Next up, the Devils will continue their homestand as they take on the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at 1 PM at the Rock. I will be attending this game live, so the recap will be up a little later than usual. Until then, have a great weekend and let’s go Devils!

Devils’ Woes Continue; Blow Lead Over Panthers

And so it continues. The Devils remain winless through six games as the nightmare to begin the 2019-20 season goes on. This time, they blew a 4-1 lead to the Florida Panthers on home ice to ultimately lose 6-4.

It was the first matinee of nine for the Devils overall on the year as they celebrated Kid’s Day at Prudential Center. With many kids off from school for the Columbus Day holiday here in the US, there were many families in attendance.

The Devils came into the game being outscored by opponents 21-9 over their first five games. That led to some lineup changes including Jesper Boqvist slotting in up front for Kevin Rooney. He played on a line centered by Jack Hughes and with Wayne Simmonds on the other wing. In addition, Matt Tennyson slotted in on defense for Mirco Mueller. This was Tennyson’s Devils debut.

The Devils fell behind the eight ball just 16 seconds into the contest. Jonathan Huberdeau went to the net as the puck bounced around behind it. Florida eventually worked it in front and he put it behind Devils goalie Cory Schneider. Evgenii Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov had the assists on the goal. The Panthers jumped out to the 1-0 lead just like that.

This has been a problem for the Devils this season: giving up goals early and late in periods. It would not be the last time this particular problem would rear its ugly head today either.

The Devils would respond quickly to the early Florida goal. Taylor Hall, at the 2:28 mark, scored his first of the season when Pavel Zacha dropped a pass for him just inside the Panthers’ blueline. He went to the high slot and wristed the puck by Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That tied the game at one apiece. Sami Vatanen had the secondary assist on this goal.

Remember that bit I wrote about the Devils giving up goals late in a period? Well, that role would be reversed when Jesper Bratt scored with 47 seconds to go in the first period. Zacha created a turnover to Bratt in the Panthers’ zone and he cut to the front of the net and scored. The goal was Bratt’s first of the year and Nikita Gusev had the secondary assist. This made it 2-1 Devils. Zacha was already working on a two-point afternoon.

Cory Schneider, playing in his 400th NHL game, had made a huge save on Dadonov just prior to the Bratt goal.

As the first period came to a close, one person missing from the Devils’ bench was Nico Hischier. He left following the first period and did not return. Coach John Hynes did not have an update on him in the postgame presser on MSG. Hischier ended the game with a shot on goal in just 5:22 of ice time.

Will Butcher would get his first of the year just 32 seconds into the second frame to give the Devils a two goal lead. The Devils chipped the puck into the Florida zone, coming in with a strong forecheck and forcing a turnover. Travis Zajac gave the puck to Butcher at the point and he fired a shot that redirected off of a Panthers player in front, getting by Bobrovsky to make it 3-1 Devils. Miles Wood had the other assist on the goal.

The Devils would build up a three goal lead when Zacha scored 36 seconds later. Hall took a pass from PK Subban at the near wall and he threw the puck towards the net. Zacha then cut in and redirected the shot by Bobrovsky to make it 4-1 Devils. It was Zacha’s first goal of the season too and his third point on the afternoon.

Then things began to implode.

Sami Vatanen took a hooking penalty at 7:43. The Devils technically killed it off, but at 9:50, just as Vatanen was getting back on the ice, Brett Connolly took a pass from Frank Vatrano in the high slot, the same place Taylor Hall scored from, and roofed the puck by Cory to make it 4-2 Devils.

The Devils had a chance to pad their lead when Hughes hit both posts with a shot on the power play late in the second period.

With just seven seconds to go in the second period, Connolly struck again when Vincent Trocheck caused a turnover in the neutral zone and got it to Mike Hoffman. He dropped the puck to Connolly just inside the Devils’ blueline and he again roofed it by Cory from the faceoff circle to make it 4-3 Devils.

The Devils were hanging on to a slim one-goal lead – down from three – going into the third. But the nightmare wasn’t over.

Just 30 seconds into the third, Aaron Ekblad kept the puck in the Devils’ zone on a clearing attempt. He got it to MacKenzie Weegar, who shot it towards the net. It seemingly was tipped by Schneider, but Weegar did get credit for the goal, tying the game at four. Trocheck had the secondary assist.

The Panthers had fought back from three down to score three unanswered and tie it up. But, unfortunately, they were not done.

At the 7:30 mark of the third, Ekblad and Weegar went point-to-point with Weegar firing the puck towards the Devils’ net. Noel Acciari tipped the shot by Cory to give the Cats the 5-4 lead. The Panthers had fought back to score four unanswered now.

At 12:38, Jesper Boqvist took a high sticking double minor and put the Panthers on the power play for four minutes. And Florida would capitalize.

After killing off the first two minutes of the double minor, the Panthers scored at the 15:32 mark of the third. Dadonov got knocked down in front of the Devils’ net and fired a loose puck by Cory from his knees. Mike Matheson and Keith Yandle had the assists on the Panthers’ lone power play goal of the afternoon. Florida had scored five unanswered to come back and take a 6-4 lead.

And that was our final as the Devils used their timeout with 1:31 left in regulation and pulled Schneider at that time, but could muster no more.

The Panthers ended up 1-for-5 on the power play with five shots. They also had a shorthanded shot. The Devils remain with an ofer on the power play for the season as they were 0-for-3 this time with a trio of shots. They also had one shorthanded shot.

In goal, Bobrovsky continued to stymie the Devils, just as he did with the Blue Jackets. He made 17 saves on 21 shots against for an .810 save percentage. Schneider turned aside 28 of the 34 shots he faced for an .824 save percentage.

Statistically, the Devils won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs, got outhit 30 to 25 and blocked 12 shots to the Panthers’ ten.

Individually, Butcher led all skaters in ice time with 22:22 (including 3:25 on the PK). Kyle Palmieri led the forwards with 19:56 (including 3:50 on the power play and 3:21 shorthanded). Hall led in shots with three on target for the afternoon. Damon Severson and Palmieri led in hits with four each, Connor Carrick blocked three shots to lead that category and Travis Zajac had two takeaways to lead there.

Following this, the Devils will need to regroup as they take on the rival New York Rangers on Thursday next. That game is on NBCSN too, so it is a nationally televised game. Here’s to hoping we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of a national audience.

On another note, more positive note, congratulations to former Devils coach Robbie Ftorek as Steve Cangialosi noted on Saturday that he will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame this winter. Congratulations again on a well-deserved honor for Ftorek.

Devils Stumble Again in Beantown

The Devils are hurting right now, there is no doubt about that. They have started off with five defeats for the first time since the 2013-14 season and have not looked very good getting there. They lost to the Bruins up in Boston tonight 3-0.

To add injury to insult, the Devils will be without their captain for the time being. Andy Greene suffered an upper body injury against the Flyers last Wednesday and was placed on injured reserve retroactive to October 9. Matt Tennyson was called up from AHL Binghamton and joined the team in Boston to take his spot on the roster. Tennyson was a scratch for the Devils tonight along with John Hayden and Jesper Boqvist.

Greene has been a stalwart for the Devils, as MSG’s Erika Wachter mentioned that he had missed just one game in the last two seasons. Connor Carrick slotted in for him tonight in the lineup and Damon Severson and PK Subban were the top defensive pairing for New Jersey.

Tonight was the Boston home opener and the Bruins and their fans were ready to go. The Devils just could seemingly match their pace and tempo.

Brad Marchand got the scoring off just 3:33 into the game when Severson had his pass in the B’s zone intercepted by David Pastrnak. The Bruins set up in the Devils zone and Marchand fired it cleanly by Devils goalie Cory Schneider. It was now 1-0 Bruins and this would turn out to be the game winner.

Boston would double their lead at the 11:22 mark of the first period when a bouncing and rolling puck came to Joakim Nordstrom in front of Schneider and he hammered it home. Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly had the assists on the goal that put the Devils down in a 2-0 hole early.

The Devils’ special teams has been a sore spot of late and this was not more evident than a Devils power play in the first period. Cory ended up stopping Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway after Marchand blocked a PK Subban shot at the Bruins’ blueline and was off to the races. Oftentimes when the Devils were on the power play, Boston would simply hem them in in the New Jersey zone and not allow them to even break out.

The Devils ended the game 0-for-4 on the power play with five shots. They had one shorthanded shot. The Bruins, on the other hand, were 1-for-3 with the man advantage with four shots. They also had the lone shorthanded shot, the breakaway which Cory stopped.

That power play goal came off of the stick of Patrice Bergeron with just 46 seconds to play in the second period. The Bruins worked the puck around the perimeter, eventually getting it to net and it squibbed to Bergeron’s stick and he did not miss the empty side of the net. Jake DeBrusk and Marchand had the assists on the goal which made it 3-0.

And that was our final. In goal, Schneider was 29-for-32 for a .906 save percentage on the night. Tuukka Rask turned aside all 31 Devils shots he saw as he recorded his second straight shutout of the Devils in the last two games. MSG Network’s Steve Cangialosi mentioned that the Devils have not beaten the Bruins since last December 27, as they have had that one win in the last seven meetings between the teams.

The Devils only won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs, registered 11 hits to the Bruins’ 23. The Bruins also had more blocked shots at 13 to the Devils’ 11. The Devils did end with only seven giveaways to the B’s ten.

Individually, Subban led the team with 23:48 of ice time (3:54 on the power play and 1:15 on the penalty kill). Forwards’ ice time was led by Taylor Hall with 18:23 (including 3:02 on the power play). Hall also led in shots on goal with five fired at Rask. Wayne Simmonds and Mirco Mueller each led in hits with two. Will Butcher had five blocks to pick up the slack with Andy Greene hurt and takeaways were led by Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt with two each.

Next up, the Devils will try to get into the win column as they take on the Florida Panthers on Monday in a Columbus Day 1 PM matinee. That will kick off a six game homestand for the Devils as they will hunker down at Prudential Center and try to get things back on track here.

Devils Fall to Oilers in Shootout

The Devils’ woes continue as their first win eludes them once again. They fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout after failing to pull away from the Oilers.

To begin with, the Devils would be without defenseman and captain Andy Greene. He suffered an upper body injury last night in Philadelphia and was unavailable. Mirco Mueller slotted in for the injured Greene, playing on the third pairing with Connor Carrick. In another lineup change, Pavel Zacha was in for John Hayden up front.

Former Devil Adam Larsson was out for Edmonton as he suffered a broken leg on opening night and has been on long-term injured reserve.

This game would feature five first overall picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid for the Oilers and Taylor Hall – an Oiler pick – Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes for the Devils). Steve Cangialosi on MSG Network referred to it as the “Taylor Hall Invitational” with Hall being the most senior of the picks and the Draft Lottery “good luck charm” for both teams.

The Oilers would be a stiff challenge for the Devils, coming into the game with a 3-0-0 record and currently standing fifth in the NHL in both the power play and penalty kill and second in goals per game.

The first period began with PK Subban leaving the game with an apparent injury. He had only taken one or two shifts before leaving the game. Thankfully, he would return in the second period and finish the game.

The Devils opened the scoring just 6:14 in the game when Kyle Palmieri (playing in his 500th NHL game) blocked a shot at the Devils’ blue line and was off to the races with Taylor Hall on a 2-on-1. He faked a pass, keeping Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen from getting set and roofed the shot to give the Devils the early 1-0 lead.

But in a trend that would rear its ugly head all night, the Oilers struck back just about 3:03 later. Zack Kassian played tic-tac-toe to Darnell Nurse, who tapped the puck over to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl then put it behind Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to tie it.

The Oilers had tied things heading into the first intermission.

The Devils would retake the lead 14:12 into the second when Jesper Bratt hung on to the puck in the Oiler zone, spinning and controlling it before finding Nikita Gusev coming off the bench. Gusev took a pass from Bratt and fired it by Koskinen to make it 2-1 Devils.

That, however, did not last long as James Neal continued his hot streak by tipping a Nugent-Hopkins one-time shot by Blackwood on the power play at 19:32 of the second. McDavid had the secondary assist. Once again, the Devils had given up a goal in the waning moments of a period and this one tied the game at two apiece.

The Devils would again retake the lead when Damon Severson scored at 15:35 of the third. The Devils kept extended pressure in the Oiler zone, something other teams have been doing to the Devils a lot this year. Hall was able to make a nifty pass to Severson, who was at the far faceoff circle. The defenseman then corralled it in his skates and shot over a fallen Koskinen to give the Devils the 3-2 lead. Hischier had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Oilers would pull Koskinen with about 1:30 to go in the game for the 6-on-5 man advantage. Then tragedy for the Devils as Blake Coleman tripped up McDavid setting up an Edmonton power play.

On the ensuing power play, an Oscar Klefbom shot got behind Blackwood and McDavid was there to hammer it home. However, the whistle had seemed to blow and the play was seemingly dead when the puck crossed the line. The call on the ice was a good goal and replays on TV showed that the whistle had blown after the puck was in the net. The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice stood: it was a good goal and now the score was 3-3.

Coincidentally, this was the first time Connor McDavid had scored against the Devils. New Jersey was the final team in the NHL that he had scored against and this was a crucial one for them.

When time ran out on regulation, the Devils were headed to overtime for the second game this season. It was an eventful, if not fruitful one, too. Hall hit the crossbar on a breakaway, then missed the net on another one where he just ran out of room. Subban missed a chance as well, using too many moves and simply running out of room.

With those chances for the Devils not going in and Edmonton not scoring, we were off to a shootout.

In the first round, Gusev lost control of the puck and Nugent-Hopkins whiffed on his attempt. In the second round, Hughes’ shot was turned aside by Koskinen and McDavid had his saved by Blackwood. In the third round, Hall was also turned aside while trying to go five-hole on Koskinen and Draisaitl scored to give the Oilers the 4-3 victory.

Draisaitl was named the game’s first star with a goal and the shootout winner. McDavid was the second star with the game-tying goal and Gusev the third with his goal for the Devils.

In goal, Koskinen made 28 saves on 31 Devils shots for a .903 save percentage. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 for an .864 save percentage.

On the power play, the Oilers were 2-for-3 with five shots. They also registered a shot shorthanded. The Devils have still yet to score on the man advantage, going 0-for-2 tonight with a pair of shots.

As a team, the Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Oilers 31-26. Edmonton had more blocked shots at 14 to the Devils’ 12. Each team had six giveaways apiece.

Individually, the Devils’ skaters were led in ice time by Severson with 25:02 (including 29 seconds on the power play and 56 seconds on the penalty kill). Hall led the forwards with 20:55 (2:14 of PP time). Miles Wood led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with a whopping 10 and Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three. Coleman led in takeaways with three.

Next up for the Devils, they ship up to Boston for a Saturday night tilt against the Bruins. Boston is another team that has yet to suffer a loss and will be a good test for the Devils. Hopefully, things break right and we can all breath a sigh of relief then with a “W” on Saturday.