The Devils needed a win to even out their four game road trip and fly back to Jersey on a good note. They got that and more. Cory Schneider was on top of his game in the 2-0 shutout and Kyle Palmieri showed a ton of guts in the bookend win in Glendale.
The game was moved from a 9 PM Eastern Time start to a 2 PM Eastern start due to the Arizona Cardinals-Green Bay Packers NFL playoff game tonight at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Gila River Arena and the football stadium are part of a complex in Glendale and they needed the parking spaces available for the playoff game.
The Devils got some key names back off of the injured list: Jordin Tootoo and John Moore were back in. Reid Boucher and Brian O’Neill were also called up from Albany. While O’Neill was a healthy scratch along with Stefan Matteau and the suspended Bobby Farnham, Boucher was in the lineup. The Devils dressed eleven forwards for the tilt. Eric Gelinas was moved up to forward and played on the fourth line with Tootoo and Stephen Gionta.
In net, Schneider got the nod for the Devils. He was equal to all 38 Arizona shots he saw and the Coyotes did fire a lot of rubber his way, not just on net, but peppering the crease area with shots that did not count as shots on net (going wide and such). For Cory, it was his fourth shutout of the season.
For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue, from Marty Brodeur’s hometown of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec) was supposed to get the game, but Arizona coach Dave Tippett decided to go with Anders Lindback instead. Lindback made 14 saves on 16 shots.
Much like the game in Colorado, the game winner came early. This time, however, the Devils were on the right side of it. Travis Zajac blocked a Coyotes shot in the Devils zone and poked it into the neutral zone to Lee Stempniak, who played give-and-go with Boucher, who buried a shot past Lindback stick side. It was Boucher’s fourth career NHL goal and his first on his first shot in his latest stint in the big leagues. Boucher led the AHL in shots and showed that he is not afraid to pull the trigger in the NHL. Boucher had flown in late last night to Arizona from Providence, Rhode Island where he was playing a game with the Albany Devils against the Providence Bruins.
From there, the teams settled in.
There was a scary moment for the Devils when Kyle Palmieri left late in the first period while the Devils were on the power play. He seemed to be clutching his left shoulder. He would return in the second period, but would have another scare in the third when he blocked a Coyotes shot in the knee. He would end up being OK, but his gutsy performance helped propel the team. Palmieri spent the entire game battling with Arizona star Oliver Ekman-Larsson, taking a high sticking penalty against him in the second.
Travis Zajac and Brad Richardson would drop the gloves at 18:13 of the second. For two guys who do not usually fight, it was a spirited bout, as both men held their own. It came when Zajac felt that Richardson was cheating on a faceoff in the Coyotes zone and they tied up once the puck was dropped. Some cross checks were exchanged and the two went at it.
The Devils would double their lead just 18 seconds into the third when Adam Larsson dumped the puck in deep. Joseph Blandisi retrieved it on the near side of the Arizona net and found Palmieri on the other side. Palmieri slid it past Lindback’s skate and the Devils led 2-0.
And that would be it. The Devils bookended two losses with two wins on the four game road trip and now return home to face a Calgary Flames team playing at NHL .500 with twenty regulation wins and twenty regulation losses. Calgary, much like Arizona, has some young guns up front and really make life miserable for a defense. If New Jersey can contain them the way they did the Coyotes, they will be OK. The Devils showed that they still have life, now they need to follow up when they take on the Calgary Flames at the Prudential Center on Tuesday.