Coming into tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues, the Devils home record without a regulation loss was very much in jeopardy. The Blues have won five in a row against the Devils and St. Louis is 4-1-0 all time at Prudential Center. Not good numbers if you want to play the percentages.
But the Devils were playing their fifth of 18 sets of back-to-backs and have been much better in the second half of those so far this season. Could they shake off the loss at Montreal last night and pick up the “W” against the Blues at home?
Some notes to get to before we begin. Carey Price did not receive supplemental discipline by the NHL for his blocker punches to Kyle Palmieri last night. Many of the Devils and their staff felt that they really did not want to see Price suspended and just wanted the call last night to be made, considering that would have helped them then.
The Devils got into Newark this morning at 2:30 AM while the Blues were coming in from Brooklyn where they lost to the Islanders last night – so they are also on the back end of a back-to-back.
Some milestones for the Devils as Taylor Hall was playing in his 400th NHL game tonight, Michael Cammaleri his 800th NHL game and John Moore his 100th as a Devil. All of that information came from the MSG broadcast.
One other interesting note that was brought up on the TV broadcast that one of the linesmen working tonight’s game (Kory Nagy) was a former member of the Devils organization. He played under current Devils’ broadcaster John MacLean in Lowell when the Devils had their AHL franchise based in that Massachusetts city. He also played for the ECHL’s Trenton Devils when they were a Devils lower level affiliate. Like MacLean said during the game, he is a great skater who is prolonging his career in hockey by becoming an official.
This game at home is a mere layover for the Devils, as the Devils’ next four come on the road.
Sitting for the Devils tonight were Jacob Josefson and Jon Merrill, who have been healthy scratches for the last few games. Pavel Zacha is still out with a facial laceration. He may play Sunday at the Rangers.
The Blues were without Carl Gunnarsson, Ty Rattie and Nail Yakupov. Also for St. Louis, Robert Bortuzzo was missing due to a lower body injury.
In goal for the Devils was Keith Kinkaid, getting his first start since the game at Nashville. He ended up with 28 saves on 32 St. Louis shots. Opposing him for the Blues was Jake Allen. Allen has three wins over the Devils, with two of those coming via the shutout. He made 20 saves on a meager 21 Devils shots.
This was the eleventh consecutive game that the Devils have been outshot.
Things began pretty rocky for New Jersey. Robby Fabbri scored his first of two on the night just 1:50 into the game. Brad Hunt and Vladimir Tarasenko had the assists. Fabbri scored in his second consecutive game, as he had a marker last night at the Islanders.
The Devils felt the wrath of the Blues very good penalty kill early on. After Joel Edmundson was called for roughing at 10:48 of the first, the Devils got their first of three power plays and could muster only one shot on goal. For the night, the Devils were 0-for-3 with the extra skater. St. Louis went 1-for-3.
With the Devils down 1-0 going into the second period, things began to look a little bit better when Palmieri came out of the shoot and nailed the post early in the second frame.
Unfortunately for the Devils, another controversial play would lead to an opposition goal. The Blues had seemingly iced the puck around the five minute mark of the period. The players – including the Blues’ Scottie Upshall – let up, assuming the icing was going to be called. It was not and the Blues pounced. Ryan Reaves ended a 38 game goal scoring drought when he put one past Kinkaid at 5:15. He got assists from Alex Pietrangelo and Kyle Brodziak. It was now 2-0 Blues just like that.
Icing is not a reviewable call and it seems that the linesmen just plain missed it. This could not have made the Devils coaching staff, who were already upset over the calls/non-calls of goalie interference (and the inconsistency of when those calls are made or not made) very happy. But, again, the call is non-reviewable, so it was 2-0 St. Louis.
The Devils got their lone goal at the 6:36 mark of the second. Taylor Hall rushed the puck up ice, attempting a wraparound on Jake Allen. The Blues goaltender stopped him, but the rebound came out to PA Parenteau, who took two swipes at the puck and buried the second one. Adam Henrique had the secondary assist on the play. It was Parenteau’s first goal since November 8 against Carolina. It was also now 2-1 and the Devils were seemingly back in the game.
But New Jersey would get into some penalty trouble that would cost them. First, Damon Severson was called for roughing Alexander Steen at 7:47. Then, the Devils went down 5-on-3 when Sergey Kalinin was called for tripping Jori Lehtera.
The Blues also have one of the top power plays in the league and would convert at 9:42 – just seconds before the 5-on-3 was about to expire – when Jaden Schwartz took a slap pass from Steen, who had faked a shot and deposited it into the empty side of Kinkaid’s cage. Tarasenko had the secondary assist.
Fabbri put the bow on this one in the third period when he scored his second of the night and eighth of the season, from Tarasenko (who had three assists on the night) and Lehtera at 11:24 of that session.
The game ended 4-1 as New Jersey just could not get anything going in the third period and just kind of wasted away.
Next up: the big one on Sunday, as the Devils head through the Lincoln Tunnel to Madison Square Garden to take on the rival New York Rangers, a huge game to be sure. Hopefully for Devils fans, the team can rebound from these two losses to get ready for a very good Rangers team.