Last Saturday’s overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the Prudential Center was a bitter pill to swallow for the Devils due to the soft slashing call on Travis Zajac that led to the power play that led to the game winner. Tonight, the Devils had a chance to avenge that loss at the brand sparkling new Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Five days had passed and the script was different, but the result was the same: the Oilers pulled out a 3-2 victory over New Jersey in overtime.
Taylor Hall was, of course, making his long awaited return to the Alberta capital where he plied his trade for six years. The former number one overall draft pick has stated that, while he is disappointed that the Oilers are getting over the hump and seem to be on a trajectory to make the playoffs without him, he is happy where he is as a Devil.
He was also happy that the game was in the new Rogers Place and not Rexall Place, where he actually played while in Edmonton. He said that he would not see many familiar faces in the new arena and would not have to walk by the Oilers old locker room. Since he had never been in this building or it’s fancy new home locker room, he was just as unfamiliar as any other visiting player.
Hall did go to dinner with some of his former Oilers teammates last night and his current teammates on the Devils said that they were rallying around him trying to get him the win.
The Devils, were they to get that win, would still be doing it without Andy Greene and Vernon Fiddler (both of whom could return on this road trip) as well as Jacob Josefson (still out with an illness). Former Oiler Luke Gazdic was a healthy scratch along with Seth Helgeson and Pavel Zacha for New Jersey. Making their Devils and NHL debuts were forward Blake Coleman and defenseman Karl Stollery. Coleman, from Plano, Texas, had his dad in attendance. He had 13 goals in Albany, tied for the team lead. Stollery is actually from Camrose, Alberta, near Edmonton so he was making his NHL debut close to home. He skated in a pairing with Steven Santini.
Scratched for Edmonton were Eric Gryba and Matt Hendricks.
The goaltending matchup pitted Cory Schneider against the guy who has started the most games in the NHL this season, Cam Talbot. Schneider made 31 saves on 34 Edmonton shots. Talbot made 16 saves as the Devils peppered him with just 18 shots.
In the first period, the Oilers did a similar thing to what the Devils did for Adam Larsson on Saturday, giving Taylor Hall a video tribute on the big screen. In a nice move, MSG+ did not cut to commercial here, so that the fans could see Edmonton and their fans pay tribute to Hall. Hall, for his part, acknowledged the crowd. He was also named the third star of the game and, in a rare move, also came out for a curtain call. Generally, visiting players named a star of the game do not come out to acknowledge the crowd.
And Taylor Hall nearly notched the first goal of the game. Mid-first period, Coleman took a shot on Talbot and the rebound nearly came out to Hall, but the Oiler goalie was able to nab it before it got to him.
It was the Devils who did break the ice, though. At the 18:06 mark of the first period, the Devils got the puck in deep in the Oilers zone. Michael Cammalleri cycled to Zajac, who gave to Kyle Palmieri behind the net. He sent it back out in front to Zajac and the Devils veteran put it behind Talbot to make it 1-0 Devils.
The first period ended with a quick scrap between Kris Russell and Palmieri.
Although the Devils had jumped out to the quick one goal lead, just 16 seconds into the second, Andrej Sekera tied things up for the Oilers. He got assists from Leon Draisaitl and Adam Larsson (who notched his first point against his former club with that assist).
From there, it was mostly Oiler scoring chances. Jordan Eberle hit the post at around the 12 minute mark of the second while Edmonton was on a 2-on-1 odd man rush.
After Zack Kassian took a tripping call against Palmieri at 14:00 that put the Devils on the power play, New Jersey gave up a shorthanded 2-on-1 that was only broken up by a good back check by Hall. Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play for the night.
That hard work for the Devils paid off too. As they had given up the tying goal early in the second, they got the go ahead goal late in the second. At 19:09, PA Parenteau carried the puck into the Oilers zone. He had Santini driving to the net, but gave the puck to Hall. He fired on goal and the puck hit Santini’s arm, deflecting in and giving Steven Santini his first NHL goal. The Devils were now up 2-1. Congratulations to the Devils’ rookie defenseman on his first NHL goal.
Some crazy moments in the third period when, off a neutral zone faceoff, Taylor Hall spun around and hit Zack Kassian in the face with his stick. Kassian was bleeding, meaning Hall would draw a four minute double minor for high sticking. Kassian went off for roughing after he basically jumped Hall along the boards after the faceoff. That penalty was killed off by New Jersey and showed that Hall did have some snarl to his game.
It was still 2-1 New Jersey until the 12:36 mark of the third when Patrick Maroon, who has been red hot for the Oilers of late, scored to tie the game at two. He got assists from Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. He simply found a loose puck that Cory was not able to cover in the crease and put it in the net to tie the game.
Maroon nearly had the game winner moments later when Devils defenseman Jon Merrill gave the puck up on a tape-to-tape pass to him in the slot, but Schneider was equal to the task, keeping the game tied up.
Once regulation time expired, we were again headed to overtime in a Devils-Oilers game for the second time in less than a week. And although it was a questionable penalty that led to the Oilers winning Saturday’s game, it was the Devils own doing that lost them this one.
A bad change while playing at 3-on-3 led to a 2-on-1 with Draisaitl and McDavid. Not two guys you want to see bearing down on you. McDavid passed to Draisaitl, who scored the game winner just 1:50 into the OT period. Oscar Klefbom had the secondary assist.
And so it goes. New Jersey will be traveling down to southern Alberta for a game with the Calgary Flames tomorrow night. Taylor Hall had called this road trip “crucial” to the Devils season. And, although they got one point out of this game, taking two of a possible four points against the Edmonton Oilers this season; you know that they would have loved to have gotten the win here. Hopefully for their chances of staying in any race, they can get two points on Friday in Calgary.