The Devils took one step forward today in terms of finally breaking their power play slump, but ultimately blew a late 2-0 lead to the Carolina Hurricanes to fall in overtime 3-2.
Firstly, I was able to attend the game for a very special occasion.
You may recall back last spring that here on the blog, I referenced the loss of a dear childhood friend, Michael Rosinski. He tragically passed last year due to complications from Covid.
As I mentioned at the time, to say that he and his family were highly instrumental in getting myself and my family into the Devils in particular and hockey in general and helping to create a lifelong obsession would be a gross understatement.
Today, my family (including my mom and sister and I) were able to reconnect with Michael’s mother, brother and nieces to take in the Devils game at Prudential Center. We were there for a shared passion: the New Jersey Devils. But we were also there to honor the life of a great man who will never be forgotten.
As I said, Michael loomed large in stature – his height was well documented, but also in the hearts of all who knew him. We had the opportunity to meetup with a few other friends of his along the way and you realized then just how much of a great legacy he left behind.
The only regret we had was the outcome of the game, which obviously could not be regulated, but the effort that the Devils put forth today against a team that is poised to make a run come playoff time truly meant something.
Scratched for the Devils today were Colton White, Ty Smith, Mason Geertsen and Jesper Bratt.
The first three were carryovers from the Buffalo loss. Bratt did not seem to have anything wrong with him from the Sabres game, but I did not get to see the pregame show, obviously and have been able to find out what was the issue there so far – be it injury or anything else. We will try to keep you updated as things progress (or don’t) with him.
Nolan Foote was recalled from AHL Utica and played his first NHL game since January 8 in a 4-3 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In goal, the Devils have sort of settled into a tandem of Jon Gillies and Andrew Hammond to end the season and it was Gillies this afternoon. He stopped 26 of 29 total Carolina shots for an .897 save percentage on the afternoon. He turned aside the Canes’ lone power play shot and 25 of their 28 five versus five chances.
The Hurricanes were 0-for-2 on the power play as a team for the afternoon.
Carolina, who have had some injuries between the pipes, started Pyotr Kochetkov, who stopped 17 of the Devils’ 19 total shots for an .895 save percentage. He save the Devils’ lone shorthanded chance and had the ignominy of giving up the first Devils power play goal in 11 games. New Jersey was 0-for-29 over that stretch but did break through on Kochetkov today as he let in one of the Devils five power play shots, allowing them to go 1-for-3 with the man advantage. He made 12 of 13 saves at even strength.
Of note today was Tomas Tatar playing in his 700th NHL game for the Devils and the Hurricanes gaining sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division following their win here and the Rangers’ 3-1 loss at the Bruins on Saturday.
There was a pregame moment of silence held for NHL and Montreal Canadiens great Guy Lafleur, who passed away due to lung cancer yesterday, in a classy move by the Devils. It is still kind of a shock to have lost two great icons of the sport, from the same era basically, in such short order to the exact same illness when including Mike Bossy’s passing last week.
I truly apologize here for the quick-and-dirty nature of this recap. I was attending live so there were less notes that I could make and I want to be caught up in time for tomorrow’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings as well.
The Devils got the early jump on the powerhouse Hurricanes just 15:43 into the second period following a scoreless first period where the Devils held on to skate with the Canes, when Yegor Sharangovich tipped a Jesper Boqvist shot by Kochetkov to make it 1-0 on the power play.
Vincent Trocheck had gone off for tripping Nikita Okhotiuk (playing in just his second NHL game) at the 15:39 mark and the Devils wasted no time as they hoped to end their run of power play futility.
Damon Severson had the secondary assist and the Devils led 1-0.
In the third period, Nico Hischier sniped a shot far side just inside of Kochetkov’s far post off the rush from Sharangovich and Okhotiuk to make it 2-0.
The Devils were just trying to hold on here as you could feel things getting a bit wobbly for them. Gillies played pretty well and kept them into things until things began to unravel with about five minutes or four and a half minutes or so remaining in the game.
Brady Skjei scored unassisted with 15:24 gone by in the third to cut the Devils lead in half at 2-1.
Nino Niederreiter allowed the other shoe to drop at 18:04 gone by when he finished a play from Jesper Fast to tie the game at two. Tony DeAngelo had the secondary assist.
It would only take 1:39 into the extra session for Carolina to strike. Seth Jarvis found the back of the net off of a feed from DeAngelo (who had himself a two-point night) to win the game and take the two points for the Hurricanes and give them the 3-2 victory.
The Canes outshot the Devils 29-19 while the Devils won just 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Nico Hischier led in personal faceoff wins with 11 wins on 20 faceoffs taken for a 55-percent personal winning percentage.
Carolina accumulated eight PIMs as a team while the Devils had six. The Canes also outhit the Devils 19-14 while the Devils blocked more shots at 15 to the Hurricanes’ ten. Team giveaways saw New Jersey with nine to Carolina’s five.
Sharangovich, with a goal and an assist, did manage to record two points for the Devils on the afternoon.
Damon Severson was back to leading the Devils skaters in ice itme with 23:39 logged (including 2:05 on the PP and 2:15 on the PK). Special teams-wise, Dougie Hamilton bested him on the power play with 3:05 while adding 1:01 of shorthanded time to his 22:58 total TOI. As far as on the penalty kill, Ryan Graves logged 2:22 to go with 14 seconds on the power play to make up his 22:28 of total ice time.
For the forwards, Sharangovich led in total time with 21:35 – which included 1:52 on the PP and the identical 1:52 on the penalty kill. Fabian Zetterlund bested him in power play time with 3:11 out of his 15:51 of total time on ice. Sharangovich’s PK time was tops for the forwards.
Sharangovich also led in shots on goal with four. Okhotiuk made himself right at home in the lineup while leading the team in hits with four. Hamilton led in blocked shots with five. Personal giveaways were led by Graves and Severson with two each while personal takeaways were led by Michael McLeod, Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer with one apiece.
And that’s that. We will be back here tomorrow (hopefully on-time) as the Devils finish their homestand against the Detroit Red Wings in a Sunday 1 PM matinee.
That game will be shown on MSG+2 and I will hope to have it up at a reasonable time. Should I not, never fear! I am recording it and will at least have it up by the end of the night.
Until then, enjoy your Saturday night everyone!