The Devils managed to get by the San Jose Sharks, 2-1, thanks to a third period goal by PK Subban. With the win, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood moved to 6-0-1 in his last seven starts and 6-0-0 in his last six.
The day started with news that the Devils had recalled defenseman Dakota Mermis and goalie Cory Schneider from AHL Binghamton. Mermis wore number 32 in his Devils regular season debut and finished with three shots on goal, a blocked shot and three giveaways in 17:44 of ice time (including 2:37 on the penalty kill). Cory backed up Blackwood as Louis Domingue was a scratch along with Nick Merkley and the injured Will Butcher.
Blackwood was flying high, making a whopping 36 saves on 37 Sharks shots as the Devils were again outshot by a wide margin. He finished the night with a .973 save percentage. Facing him was Martin Jones who stopped 23 of the Devils’ 25 shots for a .920 save percentage.
Blackwood ended up the night’s number one star while Subban, with the game-winner, was second and Nikita Gusev, who had two helpers on the evening, was the third.
Tim Heed got San Jose on the board first 7:22 into the game. It came when the Sharks won an offensive zone faceoff. Alexander True got it to Jacob Middleton at the point and he went across the blue line to Heed, who wristed one off a Devil and by Blackwood to make it 1-0 Sharks early.
Shortly after the goal, at the 7:26 mark, Middleton would go with John Hayden as the two scrapped almost right off the draw at center ice. The Devils actually got a power play out of this because Middleton got an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct. He threw his helmet off during the course of the fight, which is a no-no under the new helmet rules. The Sharks killed this off, however.
The score remained in favor of San Jose until 16:15 gone by in the second. Jesper Bratt scored to tie the game at one. The Devils worked the puck in their zone to Gusev in the near corner. He flipped it to Pavel Zacha, who sprung Bratt with a long pass. Bratt was in behind the Sharks defense and on a breakaway. He cut in on Jones and went backhand-forehand to beat him. That knotted the game up.
The game-winner would come just 2:56 into the third period on the power play. Mario Ferraro was off for a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. On the ensuing man advantage, New Jersey worked the puck around the perimeter, as Subban went point-to-point with Gusev. Gusev skated the puck to the top of the near faceoff circle and dished back to Subban who was just inside the blue line. He skated a few strides and then wristed one from the top of the near faceoff circle, right where Gusev had been. The puck had eyes and found its way by Jones to give the Devils the 2-1 lead.
On special teams, the Sharks were held 0-for-3 with six shots, plus two shorthanded shots. The Devils were 1-for-6 with seven power play shots and as well as a pair of shorthanded shots.
The Sharks took a penalty with about three minutes to go in regulation, as True went off for goalie interference. This put the San Jose comeback at a disadvantage, but they were able to pull Jones with about a minute to go once the penalty expired. They could not equalize it, however and it ended 2-1 for the Devils.
The Devils ended up being outshot 37-25, but won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Nico Hischier had the best percentage among Devils centers at 62-percent of personal faceoffs won.
The Sharks outhit the Devils, 14-12 and had more blocked shots at 21-13. They also had less giveaways at five to the Devils’ 14.
Damon Severson led all skaters in time on ice with 27:12 (5:29 on the power play/2:31 on the PK). Jack Hughes led the forwards by one second over Hischier at 18:28 (including 5:37 on the power play). Nico finished with 18:27 of total ice time, but played in all situations (5:23 on the PP and 12 seconds shorthanded).
Gusev, as noted, led the Devils with two points. Shots were led by Bratt with five, hits by Mirco Mueller with four, blocks by Subban with three and takeaways by Gusev with three.
Next up, the Devils will remain at home to host the Washington Capitals on Saturday. That game is at 1 PM ET and we will have coverage for you right here.