The Devils defeated the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Prudential Center to earn a point in their sixth straight game. That six-game point streak is a season high as they now improve to 3-0-3 since the bye week/All-Star break.
The 3-0 win also saw Mackenzie Blackwood extend his personal shutout streak to 135:03 over his last three games. He shut out Philadelphia in his last outing. He made 37 saves tonight in blanking the Kings. The Devils scored their three goals in about a five-minute span in the second period to ice this one.
The Kings came in with the worst record in the Western Conference standing in last place in the Pacific Division. However, these things are not always predictable as the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league and the Devils knocked them off on Thursday, shutting them out.
Still, the Devils were without both Nico Hischier – who is still working with the team’s medical staff according to MSG Network’s Erika Wachter and has not resumed skating yet – and Sami Vatanen. Vatanen did skate this morning but remained out of the lineup tonight. As a result, the lineup remained the same as Thursday. Colton White was the team’s healthy scratch.
We mentioned Blackwood’s outstanding performance, making 37 saves in getting the shutout. For LA, Cal Petersen was making his season NHL debut (he did play a handful of games for the Kings last season). He made 31 saves on 34 Devils shots for a .912 save percentage.
This was the Devils’ 500th game at Prudential Center. Fitting that they were playing the LA Kings, since that was the matchup for the first Stanley Cup Final in the building back in 2012.
The first period was not without its action, despite ending scoreless. There was a sequence where both teams rang a puck off of the pipe at each end before Blake Coleman was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway as he tried to bury one five-hole on Petersen.
The second period was where the action took place. It began with the game-winning goal 5:38 into the frame. It came when Coleman (who did not get an assist on this goal) took a shot that rebounded back to the point and Damon Severson. Severson saw Nikita Gusev setting up at the near faceoff circle. He passed, Gusev fired and, although Petersen got a piece of the shot, it went in to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. The goal was Gusev’s tenth of the season.
Almost two minutes later, at 6:12, Carl Grundstrom took a high-sticking call against Connor Carrick that put him in the penalty box for two. While on the power play, at 7:35, Kyle Palmieri had a shot blocked by Petersen. Wayne Simmonds found the loose puck and gathered it. He gave to Coleman near the far faceoff circle. Coleman ripped a shot by Petersen to make it 2-0.
This goal was Coleman’s 21st of the year to lead the team. Curiously, however, it was his first power play goal of the year. This is less surprising when you factor in that Coleman is only now getting serious power play time with the injury to Nico Hischier.
On the power play for the night, the Devils were 1-for-4 with seven shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot as well. Los Angeles was 0-for-3 with five shots. They added three shorthanded shots too.
The third goal of the period (and game) was a crazy one from a scoresheet perspective. Andy Greene took a shot from the point with Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri providing the screens in front. The puck pinballed in off of Hughes’ stick and Palmieri’s shin pad. Originally, the goal was credited to Hughes, but that was later changed to Palmieri. That made it 3-0 Devils.
The Devils nearly got into some penalty trouble late in the period. First, at the 12:12 mark of the second, PK Subban was called for interference. While the Devils were killing that off, at 12:37 elapsed in the period, Damon Severson hooked down Anze Kopitar on a breakaway. He was awarded a penalty shot, but Blackwood stopped that one to basically seal the deal.
Blackwood was busy in the third, but equal to the task and the Devils came away with their second shutout wins in as many games.
The Devils were again dominated in the faceoff circle, winning just 42-percent of the game’s draws. Travis Zajac led all centers with a 63-percent personal winning percentage.
The Devils did outhit the Kings, 22-18. They also had more blocked shots at 18 to LA’s six. The Devils had double the turnovers the Kings did at four to two.
Subban led all Devils skaters with 24:28 of ice time – including 3:10 on the PP and 1:58 on the PK. Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 18:05 total including 3:26 on the man advantage and 2:52 killing penalties.
Coleman led in shots on goal by a wide margin with seven (Palmieri and Gusev came closest with four). Hits were led by Zacha with four. Blocked shots by Greene with six and takeaways by Coleman with two.
The three stars of the night saw Blackwood again grab the top spot while Palmieri was the second and Coleman the third.
Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as the Florida Panthers come to Newark on Tuesday. This will be another tough challenge for the Devils as Florida is currently (much like the Flyers) in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race. We will, of course, have coverage for you on Tuesday.