The Devils dropped another game in extra time, this time in a shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 tonight.
In some news that came along just prior to the game, the Devils traded a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for goalie Louis Domingue.
Tampa will get the Devils’ pick should one of the following conditions be met (according to the Devils press release): “1) Domingue plays in seven NHL regular-season games for the New Jersey Devils during the 2019-2020 NHL regular season; or 2) Domingue plays in one NHL playoff game for the New Jersey Devils during the 2020 NHL playoffs; or 3) Domingue is traded by the New Jersey Devils prior to the start of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Domingue, who has played for the Coyotes and Lightning in his five-year NHL career, will report to AHL Binghamton. He went a career-best 21-5-0 for the high-powered Lightning last year.
Now on to tonight’s game as the Devils’ lineup remained largely the same as the last game. Nikita Gusev, Jesper Boqvist and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches.
This was the last game of the season-high six game homestand for the Devils. They did not have a very good homestand either, finishing October at 2-5-3. This was the team’s second worst October, in terms of fewest wins, since moving to New Jersey (only 1983-84 when they went 1-10-0 was worse). Now, there are some caveats here, as one, there were no overtime/shootout “loser points” back then (although they could split for a tie, so I guess it evens out), and two, they played way fewer games this October than the 11 that they played back in 1983. So it is not exactly time to hit the panic button just yet.
There were some questions about Wayne Simmonds’ scoring touch since the season started. He had yet to score his first goal as a New Jersey Devil coming into this game. But it was against his former teammates and you just know that he wanted to get it against his old friends.
And sure enough, at 6:24, he notched his first as a Devil on the power play. Justin Braun was called for a trip against Miles Wood at 5:16 and was off, setting up the Devils’ power play opportunity. The goal came when Kyle Palmieri, at the point, passed to Jack Hughes. Hughes found Simmonds on the doorstep. He then shot over a prone Carter Hart to make it 1-0.
But in what has been a major problem for the Devils this season and was a recurring theme throughout the game, the Flyers came right back.
Off a rush, Sean Couturier found a passing seam to Oskar Lindblom, who roofed the puck over Mackenzie Blackwood. The game-tying goal, which came at 10:39 of the first, saw Travis Konecny pick up the secondary assist.
A few minutes later, New Jersey had a goal waved off as the puck went in by Hart on a goal mouth scramble, but it went in after a quick whistle. The referee blew the whistle very early and it cost the Devils this time.
Play resumed and a little bit after that, Hughes absorbed a huge hit by Matt Niskanen. Palmieri was in the vicinity and took exception, deciding to take on the much-larger Niskanen. The two scrapped, with Palmieri sticking up for his teammate on what was a borderline boarding hit. In the end, Palmieri took 17 minutes of penalties – the fighting major, a ten-minute misconduct and two minutes for instigating.
Hughes would leave the game for the remainder of the first period.
The game remained tied because with 6:12 to go in the first, the refs again blew a quick whistle on a play where the puck came loose in the Devils’ crease. Philly was the victim here as they could have had a scoring play, but it was whistled dead.
It would not remain that way for long. At the 7:26 mark of the second, Couturier scored on a play that was kind of tough for the Devils. The Couturier shot went in as Blackwood was seemingly handcuffed by Konecny being pushed into him by the Devils defender. The goal was the result of a turnover by the Devils to Lindblom, who had the assist.
Although seemingly goalie interference, the call on the ice was a good goal and the Devils chose not to use their challenge. The evidence was not there to overturn the goal and the Devils did not want to risk taking a penalty if they were wrong on the challenge. It was now 2-1 Flyers.
But, at the 13:26 mark, Claude Giroux was called for tripping Jesper Bratt and the Devils were on the power play once again. This time, it was Sami Vatanen at 14:28 who got the Devils back even. Taylor Hall worked the boards and got it to Nico Hischier at the half wall. Nico curled and game to Vatanen at the point. Vatanen was able to see the Flyers’ Travis Sanheim fall down, leaving Philly with just three penalty killers. He then rifled a shot by Hart to tie the game at two all.
Vatanen continues to heat up, scoring in his third straight game.
Things were looking good for the Devils, especially on the power play. They finished the game 2-for-4 with three shots. They also had two shorthanded shots on Hart. The Flyers were held 0-for-3 on the man advantage with a total of four shots. They had a single shorthanded shot that Blackwood turned aside.
Then, things got better. Just 9:58 into the third frame, Taylor Hall was on a 2-on-1 with Palmieri. He made a nice move around the Philly defender and, as he was being cross-checked down (on which a penalty was going to be called), he shot the puck through Hart’s five-hole to give the Devils the 3-2 lead. The goal was an impressive individual effort and Andy Greene and Palmieri had the assists.
But the Flyers would fight back into things. At the 11:29 mark, Joel Farabee scored his first NHL goal when he got the puck in the slot and simply blew it by Blackwood. Michael Raffl and Ivan Provorov had the assists on the game-tier. Now the Devils were once again behind the eight-ball as they had blown another lead late.
Things seemed really bad late in the third when Damon Severson was collared for a high-sticking penalty. However, the officials conferenced together and reversed the call. The replays showed that it was the correct call. Severson’s stick never touched the Flyers player and he mimicked getting hit. Close call for the Devils there that avoided disaster late in the game.
When time expired in regulation, we were headed to overtime. In OT, the Devils dodged two bullets. First, with 3:01 left, Blackwood made a big save point blank and the puck came to Farabee right in front. He scored but the goal was waved off on the ice for him kicking the puck in out of midair.
The officials went to the replay to review the first shot, which they were not entirely sure had not crossed the goal line. When they were satisfied with that, they upheld the call on the ice of no goal.
The second bullet the Devils dodged was with seconds to go in OT. Blackwood made a big save and Bratt was able to clear a loose puck from the crease. That kept the game tied at three and had us headed to a shootout.
Jakub Voracek went first for the Flyers and Blackwood made a nice glove save on him. Palmieri finished up round one for the Devils and hit the post.
In the second round, Giroux hit the post for Philly and Hart made a nice kick save on Hughes to keep it scoreless.
The third round saw Couturier score with a nice one-handed backhand shot around Blackwood. It was then up to Hall to keep things going for the Devils. He was stopped as he tried to go five-hole on Hart and the Flyers came away with the 4-3 win at Prudential Center.
In goal, Hart made 23 saves on 26 Devils shots for an .885 save percentage. Blackwood turned aside 28 of the Flyers’ 31 shots for a .903 save percentage.
The Devils won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs. No small feat considering the Flyers lead the NHL in faceoff wins. The Devils also outhit the Flyers, 29-27. But the Flyers led in blocked shots with 13 to the Devils’ nine and the Devils had more giveaways at nine to the Flyers’ five.
Individually, PK Subban led in total ice time with 25:24 (including 2:38 on the power play and 2:35 on the penalty kill) while Hall led the forwards with 23:06 (3:49 on the PP and five seconds shorthanded). Hischier led in shots on goal with four, Blake Coleman and Kevin Rooney led the hits with four each, Subban led in blocks with three and Severson led in takeaways with two.
Next up, the Devils get out on the road. They begin tomorrow night in Carolina before moving west on a Western Canadian trip. We will have tomorrow’s game for you right here.