Devils Down Kraken in First Meeting, 4-2

The Devils met the Seattle Kraken for the first time tonight, just five games into Seattle’s inaugural campaign. It ended with the Devils winning the game 4-2 but losing a key part of their lineup in the process.

Damon Severson made his season debut tonight, as the Devils blue liner was activated off of Injured Reserve earlier today.

Ty Smith and Miles Wood remain out and Mackenzie Blackwood was placed on IR retroactive to October 11. Blackwood, recovering from heel surgery, and Wood have not skated yet.

With Blackwood out, Jonathan Bernier got his second start of the season, making 27 saves on 29 Kraken shots for a .931 save percentage. Included in that total, he stopped six of the seven power play shots the Kraken had and 21-of-22 at even strength.

For Seattle, with Chris Dreiger injured, Joey Daccord – a Boston native who played collegiately at Arizona State – got the nod. He was making his eighth NHL start and was skating with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers this morning when he got the call up. He stopped 29-of-32 Devils shots for a .908 save percentage. He turned aside all six of the Devils’ power play shots and 23-of-26 at even strength.

Seattle ended the game 1-for-5 on the man advantage while the Devils were 0-for-3.

The Devils were looking to go up 2-0-0 on the year after getting the first-ever overtime win in a season opener on Friday versus the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kraken, meanwhile, were playing the second half of a back-to-back after getting thumped in Philly by the Flyers last night. They were 1-2-1 coming into tonight’s game.

Nathan Bastian was making his return to Prudential Center after being claimed by the Kraken in last summer’s Expansion Draft. He had a whopping 27 penalty minutes against the Flyers last night – including a fight.

Also, making his NHL debut tonight was Mason Geertsen, who slotted in for Marian Studenic.

The Devils got going early when Michael McLeod and Brandon Tanev fought. McLeod was looking to wake up his bench and the jolt worked. That fight came just 2:27 into the game.

The first goal of the night was recorded by Dawson Mercer at the 5:02 mark of the first period. It was a nice one too, as Ryan Graves hit Tomas Tatar with a stretch pass to create a 2-on-1 odd man rush the other way. Tatar was in with Mercer and saucered a pass over the Seattle defenseman, who had gone down to take away the pass, to Mercer on the left side. Mercer simply placed the puck in the net to make it 1-0 Devils.

This was Mercer’s first NHL goal and his family was in the stands to witness it. Congratulations to him. October 19 is quickly becoming a big night for Devils’ rookies. Nico Hischier scored his first NHL goal on this date in 2017 and Jack Hughes did so in 2019. Good company for each to be in.

Severson made it 2-0 before the end of the first when the Devils worked the puck up to the top of the Seattle zone to Graves. Graves dished to Hughes in the middle of the ice, who kind of curled around to create some space for himself. This allowed him to find Severson down low, cutting towards the net. He got a rebound to his skate, kicked it to his stick and put it in to double up the Devils’ lead.

The officials conversed following the goal as the Kraken players had complained that they heard a whistle emanating from the stands – but the goal counted.

Then the loss to the lineup.

Late in the first, Jeremy Lauzon dumped Hughes along the far boards in the Kraken zone. Hughes left, favoring his left arm. It was a pretty clean hit, nothing wrong with it and merely a hockey play. However, Hughes did not return for the rest of the game. We will keep you updated as to his condition on Thursday when the Devils host the Washington Capitals.

The Devils nearly made it 3-0 with seconds to go in the first. Hischier took a pass on the doorstep from Jesper Bratt, shoveling it into the net and seemingly scoring. However, the officials reviewed it and the game clock was shown to clearly expire before the puck fully crossed the goal line, so it remained 2-0 heading into the first intermission.

Early in the second (1:55 in), Geertsen and Lauzon squared off in retaliation for Hughes going down. That is the kind of thing you need in your lineup from time-to-time, just someone to let the other team know that they are there should something happen to your star players. Both men received five for fighting and ten-minute misconducts leaving the Devils down two men on their bench for 15 minutes.

In the second period, Riley Sheahan continued to victimize the Devils even in Seattle, as he scored 10:05 into the new frame. Old friend Adam Larsson blasted a shot from the point with the rebound coming right to Sheahan in front. He was able to put the puck behind Bernier just after the Devils had killed off a 5-on-3 power play – as Yegor Sharangovich was off for a trip at 6:03 and McLeod was called for a hook at the 7:50 mark. On the goal. Vince Dunn had the secondary assist.

However, Jimmy Vesey would put the Devils back up by two at the 14:46 mark of the second when he scored his first as a Devil. It came Severson made a behind-the-back drop pass at the point to Colton White. White then moved the puck down to the far faceoff circle and it was tic-tac-toe to Vesey in the slot, who scored. With White recording the secondary helper, that was his first NHL point. Congrats to Colton White.

The Kraken seemed to be right back into things with 3:21 left in the second when Alex Wennberg gained the New Jersey zone and used White as a screen, shooting through him and beating Bernier clean to make it 3-2.

The Devils, however, used their coach’s challenge to look for offsides. Sure enough, on the far side, at the Devils’ bench, the Seattle player had crossed over the blue line into the offensive zone about a step or so ahead of Wennberg – who was flying up the other wing.

The call on the ice, goal, was overturned and it remained 3-1 Devils.

Another scrap in a very chippy game occurred at the 17:52 mark of the second when Jonas Siegenthaler and Ryan Donato went toe-to-toe following a Siegenthaler hit on Morgan Geekie that Donato took exception to. Donato also received the instigator and a misconduct for his efforts.

The third would see a near-flashback to the Chicago game for the Devils.

At the 13:22 mark, Pavel Zacha was called for a slash, putting Seattle on the power play. Less than ten seconds into that, Severson was called for tripping Jaden Sachwartz, putting the Kraken on a 5-on-3 power play for almost two full minutes.

The Devils could not escape this one.

At 14:41, Jared McCann scored when Mark Giordano dished to him at the point. He stepped up to the near faceoff circle and shot through Siegenthaler as his screen. He snapped it by Bernier to make it 3-2 New Jersey. Yanni Gourde, who was returning from surgery tonight – about a month ahead of schedule – had the secondary assist.

That goal was scored during the while both penalties were still active, so while Zacha came out of the box, Severson remained to serve the rest of his penalty.

The Kraken would pull Daccord with about 1:50 remaining in regulation for the 6-on-5 advantage.

With twenty seconds remaining in the game, Hischier would work the puck out of the zone to McLeod and Zacha, who broke in on a 2-on-1 together. McLeod passed to Zacha and he did not miss into the empty net. He scored to ice the game at 4-2.

The Devils outshot Seattle 33-29, won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs (with McLeod and Hughes each having a personal 67-percent winning clip – although Hughes did not return from injury). The Kraken ended the night with 41 total penalty minutes to the Devils’ 35. The Devils outhit Seattle 16-12, had more blocked shots at 17 to Seattle’s 11 and had one more turnover at 11 to Seattle’s ten.

In terms of ice time, Dougie Hamilton led everyone with 24:52 (including 4:24 on the power play to tie Hischier for the team lead in that category and 3:13 of PK time). Hischier led the forwards with 22:45 (including his 4:24 of power play time and 4:29 shorthanded).

Graves led the Devils in points with two off of his assists. Geertsen led in PIMs with 15. Zacha and PK Subban led in shots on goal with five each. Graves led in hits with six laid on the Kraken while the two Swiss, Hischier and Siegenthaler tied for the lead in blocked shots with four each. Graves and Subban each had three giveaways while Hughes had four takeaways at the time he was injured.

Next up, the Devils will host the Capitals on Thursday, October 21 as the homestand continues. Puck drop is at 7 PM and we will see you then!