Looking to make it back-to-back wins on back-to-back nights, the Devils traveled to the brand new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit and got just that. It was the 100th all-time regular season meeting between the Wings and the Devils and their first meeting in the new rink after the Devils helped close out Joe Louis Arena last year.
As Deb Placey of MSG pointed out, nine out of the last ten meetings between these teams have been one goal games and tonight was no different, with the Devils winning 4-3 in overtime on a Brian Gibbons goal.
For the Devils, the lineup was largely the same as it was last night against Vancouver, with the lone exception of the goaltender: Keith Kinkaid got the nod, his first-ever start against the Wings (although he did come on in relief against them in 2014). Marcus Johansson remains out, but has resumed skating, as he participated in yesterday’s morning skate. He could be back soon. Dalton Prout and Jimmy Hayes were the healthy scratches.
With Columbus being off tonight, a victory would give the Devils back sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The odds were in their favor as they were 6-0-2 coming into tonight against Atlantic Division opponents and Detroit was winless in their last three – including an overtime loss to the Rangers at the Garden last night.
Detroit actually got the scoring started early, as David Booth redirected one by Kinkaid just 34 seconds into the game. Luke Glendening and Xavier Ouellet had the assists. It was 1-0 Red Wings just like that.
However, the Devils would take the lead before the end of the period. It began at 9:12 when Brian Boyle got his third of the season and second in two nights when Miles Wood won a puck battle on the boards and gave it to Steven Santini at the near point. Santini took the shot and it was redirected in front by Boyle. Both Kinkaid and the Wings’ Petr Mrazek, the back up who got the start tonight, were tested early and both had passed with flying colors aside from the two early goals.
But the Devils would end up taking the lead on the power play at 13:21. It was set up when Justin Abdelkader was called for slashing at 12:44 and Taylor Hall buried one to give the Devils the 2-1 lead. This one was a real beauty and happened when Will Butcher (who drew the penalty) skated through the neutral zone, gained the Detroit blue line and dropped for Hall. Hall skated to the top of the slot and wristed one five hole to give the Devils the lead.
New Jersey would close the period with a flurry, with Blake Coleman hitting the iron. That would continue into the second as the Devils created a few scoring chances in front of Mrazek’s net. No scoring occurred in the second period, but a Wood holding penalty would give Detroit almost two full minutes of power play time in the third period. They would not convert, in fact the Wings finished the night 0-for-2 on the power play with one shot on goal. The Devils were 1-for-3 with four shots on goal.
The Devils were 10-0-1 when taking the lead into the third period this season, but they would nearly blow that. But first, it appeared that they had taken a 3-1 lead. Travis Zajac had seemingly scored after Adam Henrique bumped into Mrazek, but the goal was immediately called back in favor of a Henrique goalie interference penalty. The replay showed that although Henrique made contact with Mrazek, he was sort of pushed into him by Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. But the Wings went on the power play although they would not convert.
That would also lead to Mrazek leaving the game in favor of Jimmy Howard due to concussion protocol. The collision with Henrique seemed worse than it actually was. That came after Nico Hischier actually did make it 3-1. That came at 6:12 of the third period when Henrique stole the puck at the Wings’ blue line and moved it ahead along the far boards to Hall. Hall just threw the puck into the slot and it found a cutting Hischier, who beat Mrazek through the five hole. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill thought that Mrazek reacted a little bit late and the team made the decision to go to Howard.
Detroit would come blazing back, though, to tie things up in a matter of 1:26 in the third. First, Anthony Mantha scored from Dylan Larkin at the 6:50 mark to make it 3-2. David Booth would then score his second of the night from Henrik Zetterberg and Abdelkader to tie things at three at 8:16. The Booth goal came off of a broken Devils offensive play just inside the Detroit blue line.
As time ran out in the third, it became apparent that the Devils would be playing yet another one goal game against the Red Wings and that Detroit were going to be playing back-to-back OT games.
After a wild beginning to OT, which saw Hall playing the puck back to Kinkaid and him giving it away, but the Wings player fanning on the scoring opportunity, the Devils would get the game winner. But it did not come off the stick of John Moore. Instead, it was Brian Gibbons who made the individual effort and was the hero tonight. That goal came when he grabbed the puck and circled around the Detroit net. He wiped out along the boards and lost the puck before getting right back up and stealing it back. He skated into the slot shot five hole, beating Howard to win the game 4-3 for the Devils.
Gibbons would take home first star honors for the night with Booth second star and Mantha third star.
The goalies on the night saw Kinkaid making 31 saves on 34 shots faced. The Devils fired a total of 32 shots on Mrazek and Howard with Mrazek facing 24 shots and making 21 saves while Howard faced eight shots and stopped seven of them.
For the Devils individually, Moore led the night in ice time with 22:23; Hischier and Henrique tied with four shots on goal; and Santini led in hits with three. The Devils also won only 49-percent of their faceoffs as a team.
Next up, the Devils will face another Atlantic Division team, the Florida Panthers, on Monday. That game is at home at Prudential Center as the Devils try to make it three in a row. We will see you then.