As the game was over earlier today in the Devils’ 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, the MSG+ broadcast team of Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko discussed how there was a time when the Devils were just trying to hang on against the Blues – not get blown out.
As Cangialosi put it: “how the worm has turned.”
The Devils swept the season series from St. Louis for the first time in a season where the teams have met more than once since 2002-03. And this year is no joke. The Blues are legit contenders out of the Western Conference and a real test for the Devils.
The Blues, however, were playing the back half of a back-to-back. They lost last night to the Islanders on the Island and lost on Wednesday to the Rangers at the Garden. That made this a trip of horrors for them as they came east after a win over the Chicago Blackhawks to start their road trip.
But the Devils still needed this. They were starting a stretch of a four game homestand (all against Western Conference teams) and then a western Canada road trip that will feature three more games against Western Conference foes. They would also be facing some of the best in the West, such as the Colorado Avalanche.
This was a much-needed pick-me-up. And needed to follow up their 7-4 win in February over the Blues in St. Louis to show that that was not a fluke.
The Devils lineup featured some changes from the last few games. Colton White was a healthy scratch along with Mason Geertsen and Christian Jaros. Ty Smith, a healthy scratch for the last three games, inserted back in on the blueline today, pairing with PK Subban.
Also, Pavel Zacha was back after missing Friday against the Rangers with a non-COVID related illness.
Everything else was the same, including going with Nico Daws in net again. Daws, who will likely get some rest this week with the Devils now playing a schedule of a game every other day, made 19 saves on 21 total Blues shots for a .905 save percentage on the afternoon. He was equal to both the Blues’ only shorthanded chance and their only power play shot (St. Louis went 0-for-1 as a team with the extra man). At five-versus-five he stopped 17 of the Blues’ 19 shots.
The Blues started Ville Husso between the pipes. Husso got peppered with 33 total Devils shots and stopped 30 of them for a .909 save percentage on the day. He turned aside all four Devils power play shots – New Jersey went 0-for-5 as a whole on the power play. Husso faced 29 shots at even strength and was equal to 26 of them.
It was “Youth Hockey Day” at Prudential Center with the rink packed with kids and the players coming to the game dressed in New Jersey high school jerseys to show their support for the upcoming high school hockey tournament at the arena.
On the ice, they were in their black third uniforms.
In addition, the MSG+ broadcast featured special guests Martin Brodeur (pregame) and Cam Janssen (second intermission). Marty has history with both clubs as both a player and an executive while Janssen played for both teams. Marty’s interview with Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador skewed more towards the state of the Devils from a management point-of-view while Janssen was more about reminiscing about his glory days (and the fact that he was traded by the Devils to the Blues for Salvador) in his two stints with New Jersey.
Smith made his return to the lineup and immediately made an impact.
He got the Devils on the board just 9:47 into the game when Jesper Bratt skated the puck into the St. Louis zone, cut through the middle of the ice and passes back to Smith, who was trailing in. Smith let loose a one-timer off of Bratt’s perfect feed and found the back of the net.
That goal, which made it 1-0 Devils, was Smith’s first goal since November 9, 2021 – his second of the season – and Nico Hischier notched the secondary assist.
A near miss for the Blues as Ivan Barbashev put the puck in net behind Daws at the end of the period. It was reviewed as the buzzer had seemed to sound prior to it going in.
It was a formality as the replay showed that the game clock ran down a full almost two seconds before the puck crossed the goal line. It was such a foregone conclusion that the MSG+ broadcast was already going to commercial (complete with the bumper music playing) and the Devils were being show leaving the ice just as the referee was making the official call of no goal.
It remained 1-0 Devils heading into the first intermission.
In the second, Yegor Sharangovich was robbed by Husso in close off of a nice feed from Jack Hughes to begin the period.
The ret of the frame belonged to Dawson Mercer.
Mercer doubled up the Devils lead at the 9:26 mark of the second when Jimmy Vesey got a great outlet pass that took him through the neutral zone. He passed to Hughes, who got into the St. Louis zone and chipped the puck to Mercer, who scored off the nice feed from Hughes.
Hughes had worked to draw in the two Blues defenders and make room for Mercer who was all alone with Husso when he scored.
Mercer followed that up with a tussle with Torey Krug later on in the period that, while not an official fight – more of a wrestling match along the boards near the Devils bench – he has yet to have an actual fighting major at the NHL level. The two would take matching roughing minors, but it showed Mercer’s tenacity and willingness to stand up for himself.
The third period, though, would not be as kind to the Devils – favoring instead Krug and the Blues.
It began just 2:08 into the period when Jordan Kyrou recovered the puck in the St. Louis defensive zone and passed to Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko gained the New Jersey zone and found an unchecked Krug as he trailed behind, took a pass and scored to make it 2-1 Devils.
As Daneyko pointed out, Devils coach Lindy Ruff was none too happy on the goal because he felt that Hughes was interfered with in the Devils zone, which led to the blown coverage that led to the goal.
No call was made and we played on.
It would only take about three and a half minutes for the Blues to get another.
At the 5:44 mark, Kyrou would score on an almost identical play but flipped to the other side.
Tarasenko hit Brayden Schenn with an outlet pass out of the Blues zone and he fed Kyrou as Kyrou was streaking up the right-wing side, trailing, to score on Daws behind the play. That goal, Kyrou’s 100th NHL point, tied the game at two.
From there and for the next few minutes, it was just end to end action for both teams. The best the Devils had to show for it, however, was when Nathan Bastian hit the outside of the post late in the period.
New Jersey would nearly have the game served to them on a silver platter when Krug was called for holding Bratt with exactly two minutes to go in regulation. The Devils would finish the game on the power play and have a chance to win it.
Unfortunately for them, the Blues would kill that and time ran out at the same time, so with the game knotted, we were off to overtime.
The Devils wasted no time in the extra session.
Just 1:12 in, Hughes fought along the near boards to finally kick the puck to Zacha. Zacha passed to Dougie Hamilton, cutting backdoor. Hamilton roofed a shot over Husso and scored his first OT goal as a Devil to give New Jersey the full two points and send the crowd home happy.
The Devils outshot St. Louis 33 to 21. They also won 44-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Hischier winning 45-percent of his draws to lead the Devils regular faceoff takers.
The Blues took a dozen penalty minutes as a team while the Devils were assessed four. The Devils were outhit 22-13, while still staying in the game physically with a heavy Western Conference team.
Blocked shots saw the Blues with 15 and the Devils with eight. Team giveaways had St. Louis finish with nine and the Devils with 11.
Hughes, with his two assists, was the only Devils’ player to register multiple points on the afternoon.
Damon Severson was once again the ice time leader for all Devils skaters. He finished with 25:05 total (7:08 on the power play and 1:30 on the penalty kill). Jonas Siegenthaler actually led the defensemen in shorthanded time with 1:55 logged out of his 18L58 of total ice time.
As for the forwards, Hughes led in total TOI with 22:44 (which included 6:56 of power play time). Sharangovich led the forwards in PK time (1:08 out of his 19:11 – while still logging 3:16 of PP time).
Shots on goal were led by Sharangovich and Mercer with four each. Bastian, Vesey, Michael McLeod, Jesper Boqvist and PK Subban led in hits with two apiece. Blocks were led by Sharangovich, Tomas Tatar and Ryan Graves with two each. Personal giveaways were led by Hamilton with four while Sharangovich was the leader in takeaways with three.
Next up, another stiff Western Conference test as the Colorado Avalanche – the top team in the West – come into Newark. Puck drop for that game against a true Stanley Cup contender is 7 PM and it will be shown on MSG+
We will have coverage for you following the conclusion of that game on Tuesday – the beginning of a run of games where the Devils will play every other day for the rest of the week.
Until then, have a great rest-of-your-Sunday and a good Monday everyone!