Devils Knocked Off in Raleigh

The Devils traveled down to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes in what they knew would be a tough task: defeat a Canes as they battled for a playoff spot. The Devils could not complete that task, but did put up a good fight as they lost 5-2.

Some roster notes to get to before we begin as the Devils inserted Colton White into the defense to sit Connor Carrick. Up front, they slotted in recently recalled Nick Merkley for John Hayden. Merkley was making his New Jersey Devils debut tonight. He was not, however, making his NHL debut, as he played in one game for Arizona back in 2017. Merkley was on the fourth line which was centered by Kevin Rooney with Joey Anderson on the other wing. White skated on the third D paring with Mirco Mueller.

Nico Hischier remained out with his injury as well.

The goaltending matchup saw Louis Domingue go for the Devils, as the coaching staff tried to loosen some of the workload on Mackenzie Blackwood. Domingue stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced for an .839 save percentage. It was also a decent roll of the dice since Domingue, coming into tonight’s game, was 3-0-1 lifetime against the Hurricanes. Facing him was Petr Mrazek, who turned aside 35 of the Devils 37 shots against for a .946 save percentage.

The special teams saw the Devils go 0-for-4 on the power play, including a 5-on-3 try late in the game, with 12 shots. Carolina was 0-for-2 on the man advantage with no shots. They did have three shorthanded shots, however while New Jersey did not record one.

The Canes were in their black alternate uniforms for tonight’s game.

Nino Niederreiter kicked off the scoring 3:43 into the game. Martin Necas took the puck down low and got it up high to Haydn Fleury at the point. Fleury went point-to-point with Niederreiter, who shot from the blue line and beat Domingue through a screen.

Things, however, looked up when Mueller scored at the 7:07 mark of the first on a beautiful goal. Nikita Gusev made a cross-ice pass to Travis Zajac. Zajac skated into the Carolina zone and drew the goalie out of his crease a little. Mueller jumped up in to the play and took a pass from Zajac. It was an easy tap in for him to tie the game at one apiece.

But Carolina would get the lead back (a lead they would not relinquish) before the first period was up.

At 11:23 into the first, Jordan Staal won a faceoff back to Brett Pesce at the point. Pesce shot and Warren Foegele was able to jump on the rebound and put it in to make it 2-1 Carolina.

From there, the wheels began to fall off for the Devils. At the 13:46 mark of the second period, the Canes had a partial 3-on-2 odd man rush led by Sebastian Aho. He played tic-tac-toe with Teuve Teravainen who found Andrei Svechnikov cutting across the goal mouth. He scored to make it 3-1.

Later in the period, while the Devils were killing off a Wayne Simmonds tripping penalty, Zajac hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway.

The third period iced things for Carolina when a shot from the point was swept into the Devils net by Damon Severson as he was trying to clear the rebound. Necas got credit for the goal unassisted. This was the second time this season that this has happened to Severson. Severson also had his eight-game point streak broken in this game. This goal made it 4-1 Hurricanes.

At around the 12:28 mark of the third, PK Subban made a nifty stretch pass to Miles Wood. Wood was hauled down on a breakaway by Joel Edmundson that led to Edmundson taking a slashing penalty.

Carolina killed it off, but after being stopped by Domingue on two shorthanded breakaways, Edmundson scored when he took a pass from Niederreiter coming out of the penalty box. He broke in all alone on Domingue and scored when he tapped his own rebound in after Domingue made the initial save. Pesce had the secondary assist on the goal that made it 5-1 Carolina.

The Devils added one more to make it 5-2 when Merkley found a loose puck in deep in the Hurricanes’ zone and found Anderson by the goal mouth. He put it in and Nick Merkley had his first NHL point (an assist on the goal).

Late in the game, Carolina got into some penalty trouble when Pesce was called for a trip at 15:17, then Staal went off for a trip as well at 16:05, putting the Devils on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:13.

The Canes killed the first penalty and the Devils pulled Domingue to make it 6-on-4, but failed to score. They kept Domingue on the bench, but it was too little too late as New Jersey just could not get anything going and the Hurricanes won 5-2.

The Devils outshot the Canes, 37-31. They also, again lost more faceoffs than they won, going 44-percent. Rooney was the centerman with the best personal percentage at 67-percent.

The Devils were also outhit 17-8, but had more blocked shots at 17-4. Carolina, for all of the Devils’ loose play, had double the turnovers as New Jersey at 14-7.

Subban led all New Jersey skaters by racking up 21:00 of ice time. He played 2:51 on the power play and 51 seconds on the penalty kill. Gusev led the forwards with 19:50 while playing 5:08 on the power play.

Shots on goal were led by Kyle Palmieri and Gusev, who both had five. Blake Coleman, Merkley and Subban led the hit parade with two each. Blocks were led by a wide margin by Andy Greene with seven. Coleman, Pavel Zacha, Jack Hughes, Mueller and Severson each had a takeaway to lead there.

Next up, the Devils briefly return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. That game starts at 6 PM ET. Until then, I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day and we’ll see you Sunday!

Two Simmonds Goals Lead Devils to Victory Over Wings

The bad news? After about 172 or so minutes, Mackenzie Blackwood finally let in a goal. The good news, as he would probably tell you, is that it did not matter. The Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 tonight at Prudential Center.

Since it is late, I thought I would get right to things.

The Devils made a move earlier today, moving Sami Vatanen to Injured Reserve, retroactive to February 1, as he injured his right leg blocking a shot that night against the Dallas Stars. Nico Hischier also remained out from an injury suffered in that same game. With that, forward Nick Merkley was recalled from AHL Binghamton. Merkley was acquired by the Devils in the Taylor Hall trade from Arizona and had been playing well of late for the minor league club. According to a press release put out by the Devils, he has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points since joining Binghamton. He did not play tonight, but was assigned the number 39. Colton White remained the other healthy scratch for the Devils.

The goaltending matchup saw Blackwood back in net for New Jersey. He turned aside 25 of 26 Red Wing shots in a near bid for three straight shutouts. He finished the night with a .962 save percentage. Facing him for Detroit was Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 22 of the 26 shots the Devils fired at him for an .846 save percentage on the night.

In the first period, Blackwood was tested way more than Bernier, as the Wings fired 12 shots on the Devils netminder while New Jersey only mustered four shots on goal. With both teams getting out of the first unscathed, we were off to the second.

Here, Detroit got on the board to take the 1-0 lead. It came with 16:34 gone by when Andreas Athanasiou connected on the power play. Blake Coleman was sent off for an illegal check to the head to set this one up.

On the man advantage, the Wings broke out of their zone when Filip Hronek sent the puck up ice to Athanasiou. Ahtanasiou then played give and go with Anthony Mantha and when Athanasioiu got the puck back at the far faceoff dot, he fired quickly and beat Blackwood to give the Red Wings the 1-0 lead.

And that is how it would remain but for an exactly four-minute offensive outburst by the Devils in the third period.

The comeback began when Michigan-native Andy Greene got the Devils knotted up at the 5:10 mark. Pavel Zacha drove hard to the net and his rebound came out to Damon Severson at the point. He passed it through to the other point where it was tipped by Zacha to Greene. Greene then rifled a shot through traffic and by Bernier to tie the game at one apiece. It was Greene’s second goal of the season.

The secondary assist on that goal ensured that Severson would move his point-scoring streak to eight games.

At the 6:54 mark, the Devils got the game-winner off the stick of Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds got his sixth of the year when Miles Wood shoveled a pass from near the Devils’ bench to Zacha streaking up the right wing boards. Zacha dished to a trailing Wood who connected in front to Simmonds who put it home to give the Devils a 2-1 lead.

A few moments later at 7:51, Alex Biega took a delay of game penalty for smothering the puck to set up a Devils power play. At 8:37, Simmonds struck again when Severson and Kyle Palmieri played catch along the point and half wall with Severson stationed at the point. Palmieri eventually got it and shot, with three Devils collapsing low, Simmonds buried it to make it 3-1 New Jersey.

Jesper Bratt finished up the scoring at 9:10, exactly four minutes after it began, when he made it 4-1. Will Butcher gave to PK Subban just inside the Detroit line. He passed down low to Bratt and he curled back up to the blue line, and wristed one from the center of the ice. He beat Bernier to add to the Devils’ lead.

For Subban, the primary assist was achieved in his 700th NHL contest. Congratulations to PK on this great milestone and on the point. Initially, only Subban was credited with an assist, but that was changed to Bratt from Subban and Butcher later on by the official scorer.

On the power play, the Devils were 1-for-6 with nine shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot. Detroit was 1-for-4 with two power play shots and a shorthanded shot as well.

Both teams finished, after a lopsided first period in favor of Detroit, with the same 26 shots on net. Detroit dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 67-percent of the faceoffs. Jack Hughes, who once again was centering the top line, had the best personal percentage amongst Devils centers with 44-percent.

The Devils had ten more hits than the Wings with 25 to Detroit’s 15. The Wings had 12 blocked shots to the Devils’ six and the Devils had more giveaways at ten to Detroit’s seven.

Severson, who was named the game’s third star, led all Devils skaters in ice time with 25:03 (7:24 on the power play and 3:22 on the PK included). Blake Coleman led the forwards with 19:21 of time on ice (5:54 on the PP and 3:43 shorthanded included).

Andy Greene was the game’s second star and Simmonds the first with his two-goal performance. Zacha also had two points – both assists – as did Severson (both assists as well).

Shots were led by Bratt with five, one ahead of Simmonds, who had four. Hits were led by a wide margin with seven. Butcher led in blocked shots with three, just narrowing by Subban, who had two. Takeaways were led by Jack Hughes, Coleman, Travis Zajac and Simmonds, who all had two to their name.

Next up, the Devils travel down to North Carolina for a matchup with the Hurricanes tomorrow night. We will see you then and hope you have a great Valentine’s Day as well.