Devils Come Away With Point in Calgary

Tonight was a wild one, that much is certain. The Devils fell in Calgary to the Flames, 5-4 in a shootout. But it took a lot of twists and turns to get to that final.

Let’s start with some injury notes. Steven Santini was out with an upper body tweak. His sitting out was merely precautionary. Marcus Johansson was also still out with a concussion. Ben Lovejoy would slot back in on defense while Stefan Noesen came back in up front. New Jersey went back to 12 forwards and six defensemen for this game after having the extra d-man on the bench for Edmonton. The Devils had followed up their first two losses of the season with victories, tonight netted them a point, but not the full two.

It was Hockey Fights Cancer Night at the Saddledome as well as a homecoming for Taylor Hall, who was born and spent the early part of his youth in Calgary. And it was Hall who would pot the first goal of the game. It came at just 1:34 of the first period when Nico Hischier streaked up the wing and took a shot on Flames goaltender Mike Smith. The rebound came right to a trailing Hall and he did not miss, putting it behind Smith. Just like that it was 1-0 Devils.

The Devils held that lead until the 11:07 mark when Michael Frolik scored shorthanded for Calgary. The Flames were killing off a Brett Kulak holding call when Frolik got his second of the season from Mikael Backlund. That would tie the game at one and from there, the craziness set in.

Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid, making his first start in nine days had to fight off a Flames penalty shot when Stefan Noesen hauled down Michael Ferland at 13:15 of the first period. Ferland did not convert and it remained 1-1. Kinkaid came up big all night, including late in the first period when he stopped Sam Bennett coming out of the penalty box after serving a minor penalty. He was sprung on a breakway and Kinkaid made the big save there. He also stopped Mark Jankowski in close with seconds remaining in the period.

The second period began with the Devils retaking the lead when Hischier took a shot coming up the wing and the rebound popped out to Ben Lovejoy. In almost a carbon copy of the game’s first goal, Lovejoy deposited his first goal since December 6, 2016 to make it 2-1 Devils. That goal came at 1:56 of the second and Jimmy Hayes had the secondary assist.

Calgary would net the next two, first when Michael Stone got his first of the year from Kris Versteeg and Frolik at 11:11 to tie things up at two. The goal found twine through traffic in front of Kinkaid. Sean Monahan gave the Flames the 3-2 lead when he scored from Ferland and Johnny Gaudreau at 12:27. That seemed like it would deflate the Devils, but just ten seconds after the Monahan goal, Brian Gibbons scored his seventh of the year unassisted to tie it up at three. That came when Gibbons cut off the puck as Smith was winding it around the boards. He shot from a sharp angle, almost from the goal line and beat Smith, tying the game once again.

Despite that gaffe, Smith was good too. He stopped the Devils on a 3-on-2 late in the second period, stoning Hall. and made a great reaction save early in the third period on Nico Hischier off a shot by Lovejoy.

The third period saw more action as Ferland scored 6:54 into the final frame to make it 4-3 Calgary. He got assists from Gaudreau and Monahan. The Devils seemed dead to rights then, but would again come back when Andy Greene scored his first goal since February 14, 2017 at 11:11 of the third period. That one came when Jesper Bratt fired a puck that came to Greene along the far half wall. Greene fired from that spot and beat Smith to tie things up at four. Lovejoy had the secondary assist on that goal, giving him two points on the night.

Then, more craziness as, at the 13:54 mark of the third period, Matt Bartkowski held Miles Wood on a breakway, which resulted in the game’s second penalty shot. Wood would shoot wide on the penalty shot, and we moved on in the game towards overtime.

And in that OT session, both teams played it very cautiously, opting for puck possession instead of the big play to get the win. We ended with the score still tied up at four. It was time for a shootout.

Taylor Hall led off for New Jersey and Smith stopped him. Sean Monahan scored on his first chance for Calgary. Jesper Bratt was stopped by Smith and then Kris Versteeg was stopped by Kinkaid. Drew Stafford needed to score for New Jersey to keep things going and he did. But Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk scored to end the game, giving the Flames the 5-4 win in a shootout.

As mentioned, both goalies had monster games: Kinkaid made 30 saves on 34 shots (one of Calgary’s shots came on the power play – they were 0-for-3 on the man advantage – one also came shorthanded) while Smith was 26-for-30 (the Devils had four power play shots and one shorthanded shot – the Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play).

Greene led all Devils skaters in time on ice with 23:56, while Hall led the forwards with 22:32. Hischier led all Devils with five shots on goal and was named the game’s second star with his two assists.

Next up, the Devils look to get back in the win column back at home when they take on the St. Louis Blues at Prudential Center on Tuesday. We will see you then.

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