The Devils became the answer to a trivia question tonight. Who played the Islanders in the (second) final regular season game at the Nassau Coliseum, and lost 5-1?
First we have an update on the Binghamton Devils’ future as per MSG Netowrk’s Bryce Salvador and Erika Wachter. The team is, in fact, moving to Utica, New York. Utica Comets president and former NHL goalie Robert Esche was interviewed on the pregame and he discussed that the history of AHL hockey in Utica, including the Utica Devils, who played from 1987 to 1993.
However, this team will not be known as the Utica Devils, but rather will keep the name Utica Comets that they re-adopted when they became a Vancouver affiliate years ago. The “Comets” name has meaning and history in the Utica hockey community and the keeping of the name was one of the things getting a deal with New Jersey hinged on. This will be the first time since the days of the Albany River Rats that the club’s AHL affiliate will not use the name of the parent team.
And now on to tonight’s game against the Islanders.
Connor Carrick, Tyce Thompson and Marian Studenic all slotted out as Jonas Siegenthaler, Miles Wood and Andreas Johnsson were all healthy and back in the lineup. Mikhail Maltsev, Ty Smith, and PK Subban are still out with injury/illness and Nick Merkley was a scratch.
In goal, the Devils went with Mackenzie Blackwood again, stopping 22-of-27 for an .815 save percentage. He stopped 2-of-3 on the power play as the Isles were 1-for-3 on the man advantage. He turned aside 20-of-24 at even strength.
For New York, it was Ilya Sorokin who stopped 23-of-24 for a .958 save percentage, stopping the long power play shot the Devils had – the Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play – and 22-of-23 at even strength.
The Islanders kicked off the scoring with a little less than two minutes to go in the first period. Mat Barzal rushed into the Devils zone and drew two Devils’ defenders to him. He then left a drop pass for Jordan Eberle at the top of the slot and he walked in and scored. Leo Komarov had the secondary assist on the only goal of the first period.
The Devils would tie things in the second, when, at 4:58 into the second frame, Michael McLeod got the puck to Matt Tennyson. Tennyson banked the puck off of the side of the goal cage to himself before skating behind the Islanders’ net. He centered to Andreas Johnsson who scored to tie the game at one apiece.
From there, it was all Isles.
In the second, Brock Nelson struck for two, his first coming on the power play at 9:00. It came when Nick Leddy went point-to-point with Oliver Wahlstrom who shot on net. The rebound came to Nelson all alone in front of the Devils’ net. He chipped it in to make it 2-1 Isles.
Nelson would strike again 3:40 later. An ill-advised breakout pass went right to Anthony Beauvillier in the neutral zone. He skated in and shot with Josh Bailey and Nelson crashing the net. Bailey got the rebound and chipped it across to Nelson, who scored to make it 3-1 Isles going into the second intermission.
The Islanders capped things off in the third when Kyle Palmieri scored his second as an Isle 3:32 into the new frame. Wahlstrom alley-ooped the puck through the neutral zone and it landed in front of a Palmieri, who broke in on Blackwood all alone. He made a nice move and scored to make it 4-1. Adam Pelech had the secondary assist on the goal.
Barzal could ice things less than 30 seconds later at 4:09. It saw Komarov bank the puck off of the boards to Barzal, who broke in with Eberle. Using Eberle as a decoy, he shot and scored to make it 5-1 and give us our final.
The Devils were outshot by New York, 27-24. New Jersey won just 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Nico Hischier led the centers wit ha 57-percent personal winning percentage. New York outhit the Devils, 25-23. The Devils did manage more blocked shots with 22 to the Isles 13 and had more turnovers at 12 to the Isles’ ten.
Individually, Pavel Zacha led in shots with four. Kevin Bahl was the hits leader at seven. Blocks were led by Will Butcher with six. Takeaways were led by Johnsson, Hischier, Yegor Sharangovich, Wood, Jesper Boqvist, Murray and Damon Severson who each had one.
Next up, the season finale of 2021! The Devils will go down the Turnpike one more time to take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. Puck drop for that one is 7 PM.
Bore we go, congratulations to NHL linesman Tony Sericolo, who worked his 1,500th and final regular season game tonight. He will be retiring following working games in the playoffs; this was his last regular season game. In a great move both teams lined up at center ice at the Nassau Coliseum following the game to shake hands with him and offer him congratulations. Good luck to him in his retirement!