For the second time in less than a week, the Devils faced off with the Edmonton Oilers. Last week, they got blown out on Rogers Place ice. Last night they were at Prudential Center, and although the Devils played a much tighter game against the Oilers this time, they still fell, 3-2 in overtime.
I was present at The Rock for this game and that nickname for the Prudential Center was never more appropriate than tonight. It was WWE Night for the Devils, with retired WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan attending the game and participating in the t-shirt toss and other festivities. There were also many WWE themed things on the big board, including a WWE emoji cam and videos with the Devils players talking about wrestling.
As for the game itself, while the last game against St. Louis was against a more “heavy” team that wears you down physically, Edmonton is a more skilled team with Connor McDavid and friends being able to skate and move the puck, as well as put it in the net.
But it was the Devils who largely pushed the pace of the game. They outshot the Oilers 34-32 and largely played well. A few lucky breaks here and there and they would have most likely won the game. But those bad breaks piled up and the Oilers dealt the Devils their fourth straight loss, even though New Jersey did pick up a point.
Some good news for the home team came when Kyle Palmieri made his return to the lineup. Pavel Zacha was a healthy scratch up front to make room for Palmieri, who missed the Western Canada swing with a lower body injury. Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches on defense.
As mentioned, Brian Boyle scored his first goal as a Devil in being named the game’s first star. It came at 5:33 of the first period when John Moore cut off an Edmonton clearing attempt in the neutral zone. He swatted the puck up to Boyle, who shot on goaltender Cam Talbot. The rebound came to Brian Gibbons and he shot, his rebound dribbled out to Boyle who drove it home to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. This was also his first goal since his cancer diagnosis and was a really emotional moment for the Devils crowd.
New Jersey would take that lead into the first intermission, but just 6:50 into the second, the Oilers would tie it for the first time when Anton Slepyshev scored to make it 1-1. Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the assists on that goal.
The Devils would fight back to retake the lead before the end of the second period, however. It came at 18:25 of the second frame when Drew Stafford netted his fifth of the season. It came when Adam Henrique and Stafford played a bit of a give-and-go. Stafford passed to Henrique, who was standing at the Oilers’ blueline. Stafford then broke for the Edmonton net, taking a pass and making a nice deke to beat Talbot and give the Devils the 2-1 lead. Defenseman Mirco Mueller had the secondary assist on the goal.
In the first meeting between the these two teams, Edmonton did not have a penalty called against them in their building. Tonight, the Oilers two four consecutive penalties (including two in the second period to former Devil Adam Larsson) after the Devils took the first two of the game in the first period. These are some of the missed opportunities the Devils had. They were 0-for-4 on the night with the man advantage with five shots on goal. Edmonton was 0-for-2 with four shots.
Back to the action at hand, the Oilers would tie things back up in the third period when Lucic notched his second point of the game, scoring from Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian. That goal came at 3:21 of the third and that is how it would end in regulation.
In the overtime, Leon Draisaitl would end it with less than 20 seconds remaining off a nice pass from McDavid and Kris Russell getting the secondary assist. The real news for the Devils was that Nico Hischier appeared to have been injured in OT. He was laboring and had a tough time getting to the bench. He could have just been gassed, I could not, admittedly, really tell from the stands. But he seemed to be in some pain and the other fans around me seemed to think he was injured. We will keep an eye on that, as losing Nico for any length of time is not something the Devils can afford right now.
So the Devils lost 3-2 in OT to fall to 9-4-2. Cory Schneider made 29 saves on the night and Talbot made 32. Taylor Hall led the Devils in ice time with 23:43 TOI. Palmieri was the leader in shots, with five and Blake Coleman led the team with four hits.
Next up, a Veterans Day tilt at home against the Florida Panthers. The Devils homestand continues on Saturday against the Cats as they try to get back in the win column for the first time since Vancouver.