The Devils opened their preseason slate at home against the Washington Capitals tonight. It was not televised in the New York metro area, so I am going on highlights and stat sheets for this write up.
The Devils came away with the 4-1 win over Washington. The Caps’ lone goal came shorthanded at 4:26 of the first period when Nathan Walker scored with an assist to Lars Eller. Special teams seemed to be a story in this game, with both teams going 0-for-7 on the power play for the night.
The Devils tied the game up just 1:39 into the second period when Joseph Blandisi won a faceoff cleanly and banked the puck off the half wall back to Mirco Mueller at the left point. He fired a slap shot that beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to make it 1-1.
Speaking of the goaltenders, the Caps went with Holtby, who made 18 saves on 19 shots in 29:50 of ice time and Vitek Vanecek, who was 14-for-17 in 30:10. The Devils dressed Keith Kinkaid, who made 15 saves on 16 shots faced in 29:49 and Scott Wedgewood, who pitched a shutout with 14 saves on 14 shots in 29:57.
The Devils took the lead 11:33 into the second period when Stefan Noesen pushed the puck out of the Devils’ defensive zone to Jesper Bratt, who quickly gave to Blandisi as the Devils broke in on an odd man rush. Noesen cut through the Washington defense and took a pass from Blandisi, finishing to put the Devils up 2-1.
The Devils were not done in the second. They went up 3-1 when the Capitals could not handle the puck in the Devils’ zone. The puck found a streaking Kyle Palmieri off a bounce and he skated into the Washington zone and slid the puck between Vanecek’s legs to add to the Devils lead. That goal came with just 11 seconds remaining in the second period and was unassisted.
The Devils put the game out of reach in the third when first overall pick Nico Hischier scored his first NHL preseason goal unassisted at 15:46. It came when Hischier just skated through the Caps’ defense, stealing the puck from Kevin Elgestal and tucking it under Vanecek’s left pad. It was a nice goal and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
The Devils outshot Washington 36 to 30, won more faceoffs, 53-percent to 47-percent, out hit the Caps, 26 to 20, had more blocks, 9-3 and less giveaways, 7 for Washington to New Jersey’s 4.
Stat-wise, that seems like a solid night for the Devils, but keep in mind that the Caps did not run out their full team. The youngsters wearing the new red Devils jerseys had a good game but were not facing Nicklas Backstrom or Alex Ovechkin.
Overall, though, the Devils, I am sure, would love to see some improvement, but are also happy with the results from tonight.
Next game comes Wednesday at the Rangers in Manhattan. That will be televised on MSG Network and I will get up a report as soon as possible.