The Devils were facing a St. Louis Blues team that were 0-3-2 in their last five games. But the Blues were ready for this one, catching the Devils instead of the other way around, 3-0.
It was the dad’s trip for the Devils, as the players’ fathers saw their first loss (the Devils were previously unbeaten on the dad trips).
The lineup stayed largely the same from the Devils’ previous game with the exception of Jesper Bratt slotting out up front for John Hayden. Jack Hughes moved up to play on the left wing on the first line, centered by Nico Hischier with Kyle Palmieri on the right.
At the end of the night, the Devils would be down two more players. Defenseman Will Butcher left the game in the first period, playing only 1:31. The MSG Network crew did assure us that it was injury related and nothing else. Forward Nick Merkley was hit by a Robert Thomas high-stick that drew blood and saw Merkley head down the tunnel to the locker room to get some stitches. The Devils got a four-minute power play out the play, but did not capitalize – although Pavel Zacha did hit the outside of the goal cage early on.
New Jersey ended the game 0-for-3 on the power play with a pair of shots. They also had two shorthanded goals. St. Louis was 0-for-3 as well on the power play with three shots. They did not register a shorthanded shot.
In goal for the Devils was Louis Domingue. He was looking for his first career win over the Blues (he is 0-3-0 all-time against them). He made 36 saves on 39 St. Louis shots for a .923 save percentage on the night. Facing him was the Stanley Cup champs’ hero last year: Jordan Binnington. He stopped all 17 shots the Devils threw at him for a relatively easy night and the shutout.
On the topic of shots on goal, the Blues outshot the Devils 13-6 in the first period, 11-5 in the second and 15-6 in the third. The Devils could not get much going all night and, as mentioned, Binnington had a pretty easy night in getting the shutout.
A strange occurrence in the first period saw the teams each go down a man with coincidental minors. PK Subban took a roughing penalty on Alexander Steen while Steen also went off for the new penalty of “playing without a helmet.” This was one of the new rules put in before the season. When Steen lost his helmet, he had a window of time to go to the bench to get a new one. He did not, so the referee, at his discretion, could (and did) call a penalty. Nobody scored on the resulting 4-on-4.
The Blues got on the board 9:21 into the second period following a scoreless first. The Devils failed to clear the zone and the puck came to Ivan Barbashev after deflecting to him off of Damon Severson’s skate. Barbashev scored to make it 1-0 St. Louis. Carl Gunnarsson had the lone assist on the goal.
Barbashev doubled the Blues’ lead just 5:27 into the third. He broke into the Devils’ zone and played give-and-go with Sammy Blais near the near faceoff circle. When Barbashev got it back, he absolutely ripped one by Domingue to give the Blues a 2-0 lead. Oskar Sundqvist had the secondary assist.
The final goal of the game came unassisted off of the stick of Jaden Schwartz. Ryan O’Reilly dug the puck out of the near corner and threw it at the Devils’ net. The puck was shot on net and the rebound bounced out to Schwartz in front. He buried it to make it 3-0 Blues.
This win by the Blues marked 12 straight over the Devils, the most consecutive wins over one opponent in St. Louis history. It was also the seventh time the Devils had been shutout this season.
As mentioned, the Devils could not crack Binnington and were outshot 39-17. They won more faceoffs at 57-percent to the Blues’ 43-percent. Zacha was the center with the best personal percentage, winning 67-percent of his draws. The Devils also outhit the Blues by one, 14-13. Each team had 11 blocked shots and the Blues had one more turnover at nine to the Devils’ eight.
Individually, Severson led all skaters with 27:22 of ice time. With Butcher out, the defense’s ice time was going to be really high per remaining defensemen. He played 1:55 on the power play and 2:24 on the penalty kill. Hischier led the forwards with 19:46 total ice time. That included 2:14 on the power play and 53 seconds on the PK.
Wayne Simmonds led the Devils in shots on goal and hits with three in both categories. Blocked shots were led by Connor Carrick, Mirco Mueller and Subban with two apiece. Takeaways were led by Simmonds, Travis Zajac, Zacha and Merkley with two each.
Next up, the Devils will return home briefly to face the San Jose Sharks in Newark. I will (quite unexpectedly) be attending this game. I will have my report up as soon as possible following the game on Thursday. Have a great week everyone!