Devils Special Teams Struggle, Ducks Win 4-0

The Devils opened a new month by traveling to California. Unfortunately, the team continued to struggle on special teams and lost a key part of their defense tonight in a 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks 4-0. Troy Terry continued his hot streak for the Ducks when he scored twice for Anaheim.

In good news prior to the game, the Devils got Mackenzie Blackwood off of Injured Reserve tonight, as he was in Anaheim with the team and the backup to starter Jonathan Bernier. Mason Geertsen and Christian Jaros were the Devils’ healthy scratches along with Scott Wedgewood – who was back to his role of third goalie with Blackwood back.

As reported by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan during the first intermission of tonight’s broadcast on ESPN+, Jack Hughes will not be with the Devils on this Western swing. He was simply taking the opportunity with his injury to visit his parents in Michigan. Everything else she reported about his separated shoulder injury was the same as reported by the Devils last week.

Bernier, as mentioned, got the start tonight, suffering his first loss of the season. He made 23 saves on 27 shots against for an .852 save percentage. He three of Anaheim’s four shorthanded shots and four of their six power play shots (the Ducks were 2-for-7 on the power play for the night). With all of that power play time, Bernier only faced 17 even strength shots, and turned aside 16 of them.

John Gibson went for the Ducks, getting his first shutout of the season – the first time this season the Devils have been shutout. He stopped all 28 Devils’ total shots, including all three of their shorthaned chances, all three of their power play attempts and all 22 shots he saw at even strength. The Devils ended the night 0-for-5 on the man advantage.

This game was the Devils first appearance on the ESPN+ streaming service, but it will not be their last this season.

The Devils did have chances early on. Very early in the first period, Dawson Mercer was stopped by Gibson as the puck dribbled behind the Ducks’ netminder and sat in the crease. Mercer missed a shot and then was tied up by Terry in a nice defensive play, keeping the puck out of the net early.

Mercer was then stopped midway through the first with a nice left toe save by Gibson when Mercer was in all alone.

The teams were at four-on-four mid-first when Terry was off for slashing at 8:54. Dougie Hamilton then went off for a slash off of a Derek Grant shorthanded chance at 10:45. When the Terry penalty expired, Anaheim had an almost full two minutes on the power play.

Ryan Getzlaf – who became the Ducks’ all-time leading scorer on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens when he assisted on a Terry goal to record his 989th career point (all with Anaheim) – would convert on the power play for his 990th point.

Cam Fowler fed Getzlaf at the top of the near faceoff circle and shot through a screen in front of the Devils’ net. He scored through Bernier’s five-hole to give Anaheim the 1-0 lead. Vinni Lettieri had the secondary assist.

That took us to the first intermission. During the break, one of the Zambonis actually broke down. This led to a flood of water just inside the Devils blue line for the second period. The referees needed to call out the ice crew in order to help dry up some of the excess water due to the puddle being a hazard during play should it have pooled there and not frozen.

The Devils would lose Dougie Hamilton in the first period as ESPN+ analyst Kevin Weekes reported that he left with a lower body injury and did not return to the game. Of course, this is a huge loss for the Devils should Hamilton miss any substantial amount of time, but it also hurt them tonight.

In 8:22 of total ice time in the game, Hamilton had the two minutes in penalty time, two shots on net and a giveaway. He also registered 58 seconds on the power play for New Jersey. Injuries for the Devils.

In the second, it was continued business for both teams on special teams.

Terry notched his first of two goals on the night 3:48 into the new frame. It came on the power play – a 5-on-3 to be exact – when Tomas Tatar was called for high-sticking at 2:03 and then Nico Hischier took an ill-advised tripping penalty on Fowler in the neutral zone at the 3:00 mark. It was not a smart penalty to say the least and put the Ducks up by two attackers.

Terry’s goal came when Getzlaf faked a shot as he was stepping up from the point. He slid a pass to Terry, who was camped out near the near side of the Devils net. He put the puck in to make it 2-0 Ducks. Kevin Shattenkirk had the secondary assist.

The goal came while the Tatar penalty was still active, so the Ducks still had 1:09 or so on the power play remaining.

The Devils would kill that off, but the horror show that was the Devils special teams was not over yet.

In the third period, Terry would record his second goal of the game 3:38 in. It came off of the rush, a 2-on-1 with Adam Henrique. Getzlaf had won a board battle to get the puck up to Terry and he broke in with Henrique. Terry was up the left-wing boards and showed pass to Henrique in order to freeze Ty Smith, the lone Devils defender back. Terry elected to shoot and beat Bernier to make it 3-0 Ducks.

We got our final of 4-0 at the 7:19 mark of the third with the Devils on the power play.

Shattenkirk was in the box for delay of game as he had cleared the puck over the glass at the 6:29 mark.

Anaheim would score shorthanded when Grant made a pass off of the left-wing boards to Isac Lundestrom in front of the Devils net. Lundestrom spun around Jesper Bratt and backhanded the puck past Bernier to score for the Ducks. It was a nice play by Lundestrom to get the shot off and score.

And that was it.

The Devils actually finished with the edge in shots on goal at 28 to Anaheim’s 27. The Devils also held their own in the faceoff circle, winning 49-percent of the game’s draws. Michael McLeod led the team with a personal 71-percent winning percentage to lead the centers.

The Devils led in team PIMs at 14 to the Ducks’ ten. The Ducks led in team hits with 18 to the Devils’ 13. The Devils did lead in blocks with 18 to Anaheim’s 14 and had less giveaways at eight to the Ducks’ 13 – Bratt led individually with two giveaways.

In terms of ice time, Ryan Graves led all Devils with 24:44 (including eight seconds on the power play and 7:22 killing penalties). Jimmy Vesey led the forwards with 18:50 of ice time which included eight seconds on the power play and 6:46 on the PK.

Hischier led in shots on goal with four, Freddie Gauthier, Damon Severson, Jonas Siegenthaler and PK Subban each led in hits with two apiece. The blocked shots category was led by Graves with five. Vesey, McLeod, Janne Kuokkanen, Smith, Severson and Graves led in takeaways with one each.

Next up, the Devils will remain in Southern California and take on the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at 10:30 PM here in New Jersey. That game is also being broadcast on ESPN+. We will have that for you right here.

Before we go, some sad news to pass along as the Devils have announced via their official Twitter account that Earl Laycock, Jr. passed away yesterday (November 2). He was best known as Dancing Earl at the Prudential Center, where he worked as an usher in Section 2 from the time the building opened in 2007.

Dancing Earl was an integral part of the game day experience at Prudential Center and Devils games and will be sorely missed.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Earl Laycock, Jr.