It began innocently enough. Kyle Palmieri was conferring with the officials when the broadcast started.
Then we found out that Islander Noah Dobson had been placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list and Sebastian Aho was frantically dressing in the locker room to take his place. It was Aho’s first NHL game since March of 2018 and, of course, he played a role in the outcome. Dobson joined JG Pageau on the COVID list for the Islanders.
The Devils are, simply put, snake bitten at home. Their tenth straight loss on Saturday at home broke the franchise record for straight home losses as the 1985-86 Devils lost nine straight at the Meadowlands.
This was game two of a five game homestand and game three of a three game set against the Islanders.
A lineup change for the Devils saw Michael McLeod slotting out in favor of Nikita Gusev. Gusev played his first game since March 6. Aaron Dell was the other healthy scratch and Will Butcher is still on the COVID protocol list.
In goal for the Devils was Scott Wedgewood, getting his first start since the March 9 overtime loss to the Capitals. He stopped 32-of-34 shots for a .941 save percentage. He stopped all seven of the Islanders’ power play shots and was 25-for-27 at even strength. The Isles were 0-for-4 on the power play.
For New York, Ilya Sorokin started, stopping 29-of-31 for a .935 save percentage. He turned aside four of the Devils’ five power play shots (the Devils went 1-for-3 on the man advantage) and stopped 25-of-26 at even strength.
The Islanders scored first at the 4:18 mark of the first and it was created by the late-to-the-party Aho and the red hot Kieffer Bellows. Jordan Eberle got the puck to Aho up high and he shot an end over end shot that Bellows tipped by Wedgewood to make it 1-0 New York. Bellows had scored three straight for the Islanders against the Devils.
But the Devils got that one right back at 5:12 on the power play. This was scored by the red hot Janne Kuokkanen. Gusev slid it back to Damon Severson, who shot. Palmieri got on the rebound but did not score. His rebound came out to Kuokkanen who put it in. Kuokkanen, who has a four-game goal streak, scored the first Devils’ power play goal since February 27. According to Steve Cangialosi, he is also the first Devils’ rookie to score four goals against the New York Islanders since Kirk Muller.
The Islanders would regain the lead before the break in dramatic fashion. Brock Nelson scored with 1.7 seconds to go in the first period. Nick Leddy got it to Nelson who let a quick wrist shot go from the far wall. He shot through a maze and beat Wedgewood to give the Isles the lead heading into the first intermission. Josh Bailey had the secondary assist.
It would take a while, but the Devils would tie things at the 16:04 mark of the second frame.
Dmitry Kulikov went D-to-D with PK Subban and Subban dropped the puck ot Yegor Sharangovich. Sharangovich shot through a Kuokkanen screen and scored to make it 2-2.
Following a third period that featured some good end-to-end action, we stayed tied and went to overtime.
It was the 12th straight game that the Islanders had earned at least a point. The Devils were looking to get their first home win since January 24.
And it seemed they had it.
Just twenty seconds into OT, Subban scored to seemingly give the Devils the win. The call on the ice was a good goal, but the situation room called for a review.
The review showed that Jesper Bratt, on the far side of the play while the Devils were breaking into the Isles’ zone, was offside. The call on the ice was overturned and the Devils were denied the win there.
They would have chances, though. They finished all but the last 24 seconds of the OT period on the power play, but despite a few great chances by Gusev and Palmieri, could not score.
And so we were off to a shootout.
The Devils had not scored a goal in a shootout this year, but Gusev would put an end to that when he scored on his chance, snapping it by Sorokin.
Following this, the red goal light would not go off and that delayed things a bit until they got the light fixed.
When we came back to reality, Eberle was up for the Isles. He was stopped by Wedgewood.
In round two, Bratt was stopped by Sorokin and Barzal ran out of room on his chance.
In round three, Pavel Zacha shot wide with Sorokin getting a piece of it with his pad and Anthony Beauvillier scored off the post and in.
Round four saw Jack Hughes stopped with no room to shoot and Oliver Wahlstrom scoring to seal things for the Islanders.
The Islanders had defeated the Devils 3-2 in a strange one.
The Devils were outshot 34-31. New Jersey won the majority of the game’s faceoffs with a 59-percent clip. The Devils also outhit the Isles, 22-19 and had less giveaways with 13 to the Islanders’ 14. New York had more blocked shots at ten to the Devils’ seven.
Mikhail Maltsev led the Devils in faceoff percentage with a 75-percent winning clip. Subban led in ice time with 26:29 while Hughes led the forwards with 22:21. Gusev and Zacha led in power play time with 3:32 each.
Shots on goal were led by Sharangovich, Maltsev, Zacha, Gusev, Bratt and Ty Smith with three each. Hits were led by Andreas Johnsson, Nate Bastian and Travis Zajac with three each. Blocks were led by Bastian, Sharangovich, Bratt, Sami Vatanen, Kulikov and Subban with one apiece. Takeaways were led by Hughes with four.
Next up, Tuesday, the Buffalo Sabres return to the Rock as the Devils try to finally get a victory at home. We will see how that goes and, of course, have a recap for you right here afterwards (hopefully sooner than this game).
See you then and stay safe everyone!