We are back from the NHL All-Star break and the Devils’ bye week and what a busy night of hockey we have for you! In the first game, the Devils faced off with the Ottawa Senators up in Canada’s national capital. The Devils won this one 4-3 in a shootout.
It was the first Devils game in nine days, since they faced off with Columbus on January 18. The bye week/All-Star break was good for injured Devils. Kyle Palmieri was activated off of injured reserve and played tonight, scoring a goal while playing on the top line with Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier. Louis Domingue was also off of IR and backed up starter Mackenzie Blackwood. Cory Schneider was reassigned to Binghamton.
Also spending some time in Binghamton is Jesper Boqvist, who was sent down during the break and will remain there for the time being, getting a little more seasoning with a good amount of playing time.
Connor Carrick was the lone Devils scratch as Mirco Mueller slotted back in on defense.
The starting goalie matchup saw the aforementioned Blackwood made 35 saves on 38 Ottawa shots for a .921 save percentage. For the Sens, Marcus Hogberg stopped 50 of an astounding, and season high, 53 Devils shots for a .943 save percentage. In the shootout, Blackwood stopped two shots and Hogberg stopped neither of the two shooters he faced.
In a nice gesture, the Senators payed tribute to Kobe Bryant with a moment of silence pregame. The Sens were wearing their heritage jerseys, which is always a nice look. The Senators also had a nine-game winless streak that they snapped just prior to the break with a win over Calgary.
And this one looked bleak for them early one when Damon Severson scored 8:23 into the game on the power play. Connor Brown of Ottawa had gone off for a high sticking double minor, clipping Sami Vatanen. The Devils were held off of the scoresheet during the first two minutes, but during the second half of the power play, Severson took a shot from the point that hit the post and was kicked in by Hogberg when he spun around to locate the puck. Miles Wood served as a screen in front and, though he did not get an assist, did play a major part in the goal. Bratt and Nikita Gusev had the assists.
But the Sens would knot things prior to the end of the first frame. With less than two minutes to go in the first, at 18:42, Tyler Ennis scored on the power play (Mueller was off for a slash at 17:13) when Brady Tkachuk shot and the rebound came right to Ennis cutting back door. Drake Batherson had the secondary assist and the game was tied at one going into the second period.
On the power play, the Devils went 1-for-5 with 11 shots (plus one shorthanded – which came just prior to the Ennis goal). Ottawa was 1-for-2 with three power play shots and two shorthanded shots – both of which they scored on, which we will obviously get to later.
The second period began with PK Subban and Tkachuk, who had been going at it all game in front of the Devils’ net, scrap.
The Devils retook the lead when Andy Greene made a nice takeaway in the Devils’ zone, this led to the Devils getting it up ice and putting some pressure in the Ottawa zone. Kevin Rooney capitalized at 4:28 when he scored on a wraparound. Greene and Mueller had the assists on the goal that made it 2-1.
But if the second period was great for New Jersey, it was about thirty seconds in the third that was nearly their undoing.
At the 8:28 mark, Tkachuk took a high-sticking penalty against Pavel Zacha, putting the Devils on the power play. However, at the 9:06 mark, the Devils gave up a 2-on-1 with Vladislav Namestnikov and JG Pageau skating in. Namestnikov used Pageau as a decoy and elected to shoot, beating Blackwood to make it 2-2 and notching the Sens’ first shorthanded goal of the game. Ron Hainsey had the lone assist.
Less than forty seconds later, at 9:41, Ottawa took the lead when, off a partial 2-on-1, Connor Brown made a nice, thread-the-needle pass to Chris Tierney, who went backhand on Blackwood and scored. Dylan DeMelo had the secondary assist.
So the Devils had given up two shorthanded goals on the very same penalty and seemed on the brink of collapse. They would nail two posts and a crossbar in the period and could not seem to get one by Hogberg.
A scary moment for the Senators when Mark Borowiecki tried to stand Blake Coleman up at the Ottawa blue line and, as he turned his back and both men braced for the hit, Coleman’s stick caught him in the face, knocking his helmet clean off. Borowiecki immediately went to the Sens’ locker room, but returned to the bench a few moments later.
The Devils would finally tie things at the 16:39 mark when Hischier took a shot on Hogberg that rebounded to the stick of Bratt in front of the net. He poked it over to a cutting in Palmieri who put the puck in the empty side of the goal mouth. That made it 3-3 and we would soon be headed for overtime.
The Devils won their last trip to Ottawa in OT with Jack Hughes scoring the winner. This time, the winner would not be decided in the extra session, but there would be plenty of action. Severson was stopped on a breakaway early on and later, Will Butcher was stopped in close on a nice chance set up by Hischier.
But due to excellent goaltending by both Blackwood and Hogberg, we were off to a shootout.
This one would only need two rounds to decide. Anthony Duclair went first for the Sens and was stopped by Blackwood. Gusev was up first for the Devils and he scored off of a nice move. Batherson went for Ottawa to kick off the second round and was stopped by Blackwood. Hughes then buried his chance to give the Devils the shootout victory.
The Devils won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Travis Zajac winning 60-percent of his. The Devils outhit the Sens, 27-23 and had more blocked shots at 29 to the Senators’ 11. The Devils had slightly less giveaways at 13 to Ottawa’s 18.
Individually, Severson led in time on ice with 26:50 (including 3:18 on the power play and 2:19 on the penalty kill). Hischier led the forwards with 22:13 with 5:06 on the power play.
Shots on goal were led by Hughes by a wide margin with eight. John Hayden and Wayne Simmonds led in hits with four each while Severson led in blocked shots with five. Gusev led in takeaways with two.
Next up, the Devils will face old coach John Hynes when the Nashville Predators come to Newark on Thursday. That game is on NBCSN at 7:30 PM and we will have coverage for you right here when it is over. Later tonight/this morning, we should have coverage of the AHL All-Star game for you as well.