Cory Schneider got the shut out and his third straight win and Kurtis Gabriel scored his first National Hockey League goal as the Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 4-0 last night at Prudential Center.
Some interesting notes to get to first as Matt Duchene and Mark Stone were healthy scratches for the Senators and Marcus Johansson and Ben Lovejoy the same for the Devils. The Devils said that Johansson, in particular, was being held out for “precautionary reasons.” The four are likely being shipped out to new homes as the NHL trading deadline looms ever nearer on Monday, February 25. Pavel Zacha was the Devils’ other scratch, as he continues battling an injury.
For the Devils, it was kind of a makeshift roster with a lot of the younger players slotting in and making an impact. Eric Gryba and Steven Santini were in on defense while Gabriel and Brett Seney were in up front.
Between the pipes, Anders Nilsson went for Ottawa, stopping 27 of 31 shots against for an .871 save percentage. Cory Schneider started for the Devils and, although he was facing the Sens, one of the worst teams in the NHL, make no mistake, he earned this shutout. He stood on his head at times to stop all 30 Ottawa shots he saw for a 1.000 save percentage. The Senators out shot the Devils in the second period (16-10) and the third (10-7), so Cory was busy. He may not be totally back to his normal form, but he is certainly getting there, which is great to see.
Special teams-wise, both teams laid an ofer. The Devils were 0-for-2 with six power play shots and two shorthanded shots, all of which Nilsson turned aside. The Sens were 0-for-4 with five shots. Cory, of course, got all of those.
The Devils were celebrating Black History Month last night at The Rock with New Jersey-native and Grammy Award winner Wyclef Jean dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff along with the Devils’ own former captain Bryce Salvador.
Travis Zajac began the scoring at the 11:45 mark of the first. Zajac redirected a Miles Wood shot by Nilsson to make it 1-0 Devils. Will Butcher had the secondary assist. Zajac went on to be named the game’s second star for the goal while Butcher would finish the night with two points (both assists). Gabriel was the third star while Cory Schneider was the first. That goal was all the Devils needed.
Just about 3:09 later, Steven Santini scored his first of the year from Jesper Bratt and Butcher when they worked the puck around the perimeter to Santini at the point. He fired and beat Nilsson cleanly to make it 2-0 Devils.
The rest of the scoring took place in the second period, with Gabriel notching his first NHL goal from Seney at 3:40 of the middle frame. It occurred when Seney won an offensive zone draw to Gabriel, who jumped into the circle and fired, roofing the puck over Nilsson to make it 3-0 Devils. Congratulations to Gabriel on his first NHL goal.
The last goal of the game came off the stick of Miles Wood to give us our final of 4-0. Wood had set up shop in front of the Senators’ net and Damon Severson threaded the needle to get the puck to him in front. The secondary assist went to Andy Greene, who did a good job of working the puck down low to give to Severson.
Statistically, the Devils out shot the Sens 31-30, had more hits at 22-18 and more blocked shots at 18-8. The Sens won a whopping 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs and the Devils had more giveaways at 11 to the Sens’ five.
Individually, Kenny Agostino and Wood led in shots with four each, Gabriel led in hits with five in addition to moonlighting as a goal scorer, Mirco Mueller led in blocks with four and Seney led in takeaways with two.
Ice time was led by Severson with 23:22 (including 3:44 on the power play and 4:33 shorthanded). The forwards were led by Nico Hischier with 19:22 (including 3:22 on the PP and 3:00 on the PK).
Next up on Saturday, the Devils head across the Hudson River to take on their rivals the Rangers. That trip into Manhattan breaks up a home stand that will last a few more games. The Devils will faceoff with New York at 1 PM on Saturday. We will have that for you right here. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below. We always appreciate them.