So, my older nephew woke up sick this morning, so Halloween was canceled. Instead, I get to write up my game report on Devils-Blue Jackets earlier than expected.
The Devils went to their first shootout of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets and fell 4-3. They do pick up the point in-division, though.
Happy Halloween everyone! This afternoon tilt was the first time the Devils had played on the holiday since 2015 – a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Islanders at Prudential Center, for those wondering. In the present day, this is the quickest turnaround the Devils will face this year, having played at 7 PM in Pittsburgh last night, and at 5 PM in Newark today. That’s 22 hours between games. This was the first of 13 back-to-backs the Devils will have this season as well.
For the record, the Devils were 6-4-1 on Halloween coming into today.
And speaking of last night’s victory over the Penguins, Andreas Johnsson’s two goals in that game was his first multi-goal game as a Devil. Also, the 40 shots the Devils peppered Tristan Jarry with was their season high for the year. They ended up with 39 tonight (including overtime) so that remains.
The only change to the lineup was in goal for the Devils. Mason Geertsen and Christian Jaros remained the Devils’ healthy scratches. Steve Cangialosi mentioned on the broadcast of the game that he asked head coach Lindy Ruff if he considered dressing seven defensemen in order to take the load off of the defense on the penalty kill. He said no and reasoned that the Devils were rolling four lines in Pittsburgh on Saturday and he did not want to take from that.
With the quick turnaround, New Jersey went back to Scott Wedgewood in nets. He made 23 saves on 26 total Columbus shots for an .885 save percentage. He stopped two of the Jackets’ three power play shots (the Blue Jackets were 1-for-2 on the power play) and 21-for-24 at even strength.
Columbus went with Joonas Korpisalo in goal and he was equal to 36 of the Devils’ 39 shots for a .923 save percentage. He got 35 of their 38 shots at even strength and all four of the Devils’ power play shots. The Devils ended up 0-for-3 on the power play.
In a fun note mentioned by play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi on MSG+, today was the Devils’ 3,000th game since arriving in New Jersey in 1982. October 5, 1982 was the first – a 3-3 tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Meadowlands.
This was the first meeting between these teams, however, since February of 2020-20 days before the 2019-20 season was ended due to the COVID pandemic. The Blue Jackets were in the Central Division last season, so the Devils did not face them last year.
Also, the Blue Jackets were dressing Eric Robinson, a forward and a native of Belmar, New Jersey.
The Devils kept the momentum from last night going by scoring the first goal of the game just 1:07 in. It came off of the stick of, who else? Andreas Johnsson – his third goal of the weekend.
PK Subban put the puck down low and Jesper Bratt got it behind the Columbus net. Bratt made a forehand pass Johnsson at the far faceoff circle. Johnsson was able to set and shot upstairs shortside to make it 1-0 Devils. This goal came off of the second shot of the game for New Jersey.
Columbus would tie things at the 11:55 mark of the first when Devils-killer Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it. The Danish exorcist scored on the power play as Dawson Mercer was off serving a tripping penalty against Zach Werenski.
Patrik Laine got the puck down low to Jakub Voracek, who skated back up high towards the blue line and passed cross-ice to Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstand stepped up and shot through Boone Jenner in front of the net as a screen. The puck went in and the game was tied up at one.
Before the end of the frame, the Jackets would grab their first lead of the afternoon, however. It came at 14:54 of the first when Columbus had numbers going the other way on the Devils. Voracek fed Laine, who was streaking up the left side. He took the pass and fired a bomb that went in and out under the crossbar. It seemed like the shot had hit the crossbar, but the call on the ice was the correct one, it was a goal and the Jackets had a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
The second would see the Devils retake the lead.
The climb began when Mercer scored 8:37 into the new period. Just after the Devils had killed off a Jonas Siegenthaler holding penalty, Siegenthaler came out of the box and negated a Devils’ icing in the Columbus zone. The Jackets tried to clear, but PK Subban kept it in at the blue line and threw it back in. Mercer got it behind Korpisalo’s net and cut back in front, stuffing it in behind the Columbus netminder to it the game at two.
A little over a minute later at the 9:54 mark, Dougie Hamilton gave the Devils back the lead.
Pavel Zacha took the puck at the end boards in the Jackets’ zone, passing from the corner to Nico Hischier, who was also at the end boards, on the other side of the Columbus net. He fed a pass to Hamilton, who was at the far faceoff dot. Hamilton blasted a shot that beat Korpisalo to make it 3-2 Devils.
But that was it as far as Devils scoring would go on the afternoon.
The Devils played a great third period largely, but Columbus would tie the game at three at the 14:35 mark anyway.
It was then that Ty Smith tried to flip the puck out of the Devils’ zone when he had time. He could have run it up the boards or even gone D-to_D with Damon Severson. Instead, he rushed and tried to flip the puck over the blue line. Jenner intercepted it, knocking it down and skating in with a Devils defender all over him. He made a nice individual effort to fight through the check and get a shot off as he was falling to the ice. The shot beat Wedgewood to tie the game at three apiece.
The Devils would have chances. At the 16:27, Vladislav Gavrikov was called for cross checking Johnsson to put the Devils on the power play. That was improved to a 5-on-3 when Scott Harrington was nabbed for high-sticking Mercer at 17:53.
The Devils would have 33 seconds of 5-on-3 to retake the lead, but Columbus did a good job of killing it, including generating a shorthanded 2-on-1 that Wedgewood stopped.
When the Jackets ended the Devils power play bid, we were off to OT. This was the third overtime game for both teams, with both going in 2-0 in the extra frame.
Despite a tremendous showing by the Devils and Bjorkstrand hitting the post for Columbus late, neither team could break through. The Devils would then play their first shootout of the season.
Jesper Bratt was first up, but Korpisalo stopped him as he tried to shoot five-hole. Bjorkstrand rounded out the first round and shot wide of the net.
In the second round, Dougie Hamilton shot for New Jersey and was stopped. Laine went for the Jackets and his shot missed the net as well.
In the third round, Dawson Mercer was up for the Devils – his first NHL shootout try – and Korpisalo made a pad save on him. Voracek went for Columbus and scored, getting the Blue Jackets the full two points on the afternoon and spoiling the Devils’ homecoming.
The Devils are now 4-2-1 with a 1-1-1 record within the Metropolitan Division.
New Jersey outshot Columbus 39-26 and won 45-percent of the game’s faceoffs as a team, with Nico HIschier winning 60-percent of his personal draws to lead the Devils forwards.
Columbus had more team penalty minutes at six to the Devils’ four. They also outhit the Devils 14-12. Both teams logged 19 blocked shots and the Devils ended up with more giveaways at 11 to Columbus’ eight. Yegor Sharangovich led the Devils in that dubious category with four.
Hamilton played the most minutes with 26:35 logged, including 3:21 on the power play and 38 seconds on the penalty kill. Hischier led the forwards with 19:41 logged (includes 3:21 on the power play and 1:29 of PK time).
Subban led in points with two (both assists) while Hamilton led in shots on goal with a whopping ten. Ryan Graves led in hits with three while Hamilton also led in blocked shots with four. Takeaways were led by Zacha with three.
Next up, the Devils begin their first real road trip of the season when they travel out west to California. They will play on Tuesday, November 2 at the Anaheim Ducks. That game is at 10 PM and will air exclusively on ESPN+. I will be watching and will try to get a post up in a timely fashion.
And before we go, I would be remiss if I did not mention that former NHLer Tie Domi was in attendance at Prudential Center to watch his son Max play for the Blue Jackets today. MSG+ showed him and his Montreal Expos cap on the broadcast, which I just though was cool enough to warrant a mention here. The Expos cap, not necessarily Tie’s presence.
Until then, Happy Halloween everyone!