Ben Bishop has owned the Devils over the last several seasons. The Dallas Stars goaltender won his ninth straight against the Devils tonight as the Stars scored both of their goals within the first 11:50 of the first period to win 2-0 in Dallas. New Jersey is now winless in their last six.
First, some roster news. The Devils placed Nico Hischier (illness) on injured reserve retroactive to December 5. Michael McLeod was recalled from Binghamton but did not play. John Hayden and Colton White were the other healthy scratches.
Dallas was in a bit of a state of upheaval coming into tonight. They fired head coach Jim Montgomery earlier this morning for what management is calling “unprofessional conduct” off of the ice. No word on what exactly that is all about (if it ever really gets out), but the NHL has put teams “on notice” when it comes to things like the Bills Peters incident. Montgomery – who had coached Will Butcher and the University of Denver Pioneers to an NCAA national championship – was replaced behind the bench by veteran coach Rick Bowness.
Blake Coleman, the Plano, Texas native, was on the ice to start the game with Travis Zajac and Nikita Gusev. Unfortunately, that feel-good moment for Coleman’s 100 or so friends and family in attendance was about it for the Devils in the first period.
The first goal of the night (and what would go on as the game-winner) was scored just 1:42 into the game. It came when Andrew Cogliano passed from the near corner behind the net to Radek Faksa, who tried a wraparound and jammed it by Devils’ goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. Blake Comeau had the secondary assist on the goal.
Joe Pavelski added some insurance at 11:50 when the Devils were unable to clear their zone and the Stars grabbed the puck. Following a nifty backhand pass to Alexander Radulov, he shot on net and Roope Hintz jammed at it along with Pavelski on a goalmouth scramble. The puck went in and the Stars had the 2-0 lead.
Dallas outshot the Devils 16-2 in the first period and there is some history there. According to MSG Network’s Steve Cangialosi, that was the same shot disparity the last time these two teams met at American Airlines Center. That game came on January 2, 2019 and saw the Stars outshoot New Jersey 16-2 in the first period of that game. The Devils came back to outshoot the Stars 16-7 in the third period, after being outshot 12-8 in the second.
Those two goals were all Dallas needed as aside from Denis Gurianov hitting the crossbar early in the second, Blackwood shut the door and played very well.
He ended the night with 33 saves on 35 shots for a .943 save percentage and was the game’s third star in an opposing building. For Dallas, Bishop stopped all 26 Devils shots to record the Stars’ first shutout of the season. He was named the game’s first star of the night. Faksa was the second.
Blackwood was pulled with about 2:40 remaining in regulation, but a Sami Vatanen tripping penalty – to save a sure empty net goal by Cogliano – ended up putting Dallas on the power play to end the game and negate the extra attacker for the Devils.
On the power play, the Stars were 0-for-5 as the Devils played a very good PK game. Blackwood stopped all five Dallas power play shots. The Devils were 0-for-3 with seven shots. New Jersey also peppered Bishop with six shorthanded shots.
One penalty that was not called was a very late high-stick on Coleman that drew blood. The stick came up very close to Coleman’s eye, but neither a two minute nor four minute penalty was assessed on the play. The play came while the Devils were killing off the Vatanen penalty late in the third.
Overall, the Devils won a paltry 33-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They outhit Dallas 26-20, had more blocked shots at 28-8 and more giveaways at 14 to the Stars’ 11.
Time on ice leader was Damon Severson with 24:37 total (including 16 seconds on the power play and 5:26 on the penalty kill). The forwards were led by Pavel Zacha, who logged 16:52 (including 2:53 on the PP and 2:45 shorthanded).
Stats-wise, shots were led by Coleman and PK Subban with four each. Hits were led by Subban (who had a rough game otherwise – not able to stay out of the penalty box) with five. Blocks were led by Andy Greene with seven and takeaways by Severson with two.
Next up, the Devils will go to Denver to take on the Avalanche on Friday. This is another game against a very good Western Conference team. Puck drop for that game is 9 PM ET and we will have a recap for you right here later that evening.