The Devils returned home after almost two weeks on the road to face the Boston Bruins on the night before Thanksgiving. It was a game that was important to Ray Shero, as Deb Placey mentioned when the Devils were in Minnesota that he specifically wanted this date on the calendar for the Devils. This game also marks the end of the first quarter of the season for the Devils. They were in a great position coming into the night, but would find themselves out of first place in the Metropolitan Division by the end of the night, suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the B’s.
The Devils got some bad news prior to the game, as Kyle Palmieri, it was announced, would be out four to six weeks with a broken foot suffered in the Minnesota game. He finished that game and, in fact, was on the ice for the overtime game winner. So with Palmieri missing from the lineup, Jimmy Hayes slotted back into the Devils lineup. Stefan Noesen and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches for New Jersey.
The game began with a nice touch as in honor of Hockey Fights Cancer, the lights were turned down in the arena for a moment of silence and fans were asked to turn on their cell phone flashlights. This was done across the league tonight, as 30 of 31 teams were in action (only St. Louis had off) and was a nice thing to do in honor of victims of cancer. Arlette then performed the national anthem and the Devils and Bruins were ready to go.
And it would not take long for Boston to get on the scoreboard. Jake DeBrusk scored just 1:25 in from Matt Grzelcyk. For Grzelcyk, the assist was his first NHL point. DeBrusk is the son of former NHLer Louie DeBrusk, a former NHL player who Ken Daneyko said on the MSG broadcast that he once had two fights against in one night when Louie DeBrusk was with Edmonton. Jake’s goal quickly made it 1-0 Boston.
About ten minutes later, at 11:05, Patrice Begeron made it 2-0 when he had half a net to shoot at and did not miss. He took a nice pass from David Pastrnak in front of the Devils net that gave him all of the time and space in the world to shoot. Danton Heinen had the secondary assist.
But the Devils would get one back prior to the end of the first period. After Jimmy Hayes clanged one off of the iron, the Devils would score at 17:10 on the power play. The power play was set up when Tim Schaller was called for roughing Blake Coleman at 16:47. On the following man advantage, Brian Boyle wrapped the puck around the end boards to Taylor Hall. He gave it to Adam Henrique in the slot and he pulled the trigger. Boston goaltender Anton Khudobin thought he had covered the puck, but the Devils knocked it free and Jesper Bratt tucked it into the net to make it 2-1. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy would challenge for goaltender interference, but further review showed that the goal was good and the score stayed 2-1. Boston would lose their timeout because of the failed challenge.
And that was the way it stayed until late in the third period, although both Boston and New Jersey had their chances. Nico Hischier alone had about two or three good scoring chances while Coleman had a breakaway shorthanded in the second period.
Following a few power play opportunities, the Devils finally broke through at 15:16 in the third period, just as a power play was just ending. Brian Gibbons, now playing in a top six role due to Palmieri’s injury, scored his tenth and tied the game at two when Damon Severson kept the puck in the Bruins zone on a clearing attempt. He fired on net and Gibbons was there to tip the puck into the net to tie things up. As mentioned, the power play had just ended (the Devils had spent almost four straight minutes on the man advantage due to back-to-back penalties called on Boston) and this goal was at even strength. Overall, the Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play with seven shots on net while the B’s were 0-for-4 with five shots.
That goal came just in the nick of time. Khudobin would make one more big save on Henrique before the game went to overtime. The OT was exciting, but did not produce a winner and we were headed to a shootout.
And what a shootout it was! At eleven rounds, it was officially the longest in Devils team history (eclipsing a ten rounder in 2008).
It began with Taylor Hall scoring for the Devils. Cory Schneider saved a Bergeron shot and Jesper Brat missed his shot. Pastrnak scored for the Bruins and then the two goaltenders settled in. Drew Stafford’s shot was saved by Khudobin and Cory saved David Krejci’s shot. Brian Boyle’s shot was saved and DeBrusk missed in the next round. Pavel Zacha and Ryan Spooner both missed in their round and in the next round, Hischier missed while Peter Cehlarik’s shot was saved by Cory. The next round saw Henrique and Riley Nash both miss and then Will Butcher’s shot was saved and Heinen missed. Gibbons’ shot was saved, as was Schaller’s shot. Severson and Frank Vatrano missed on their attempts. Khudobin was equal to Travis Zajac’s attempt and, finally, Charlie McAvoy beat Cory to end the shootout and the game, giving Boston the 3-2 win.
Khudobin had an amazing game, as he made 40 saves on 42 Devils shots and was good for ten rounds of the shootout. The Devils just could not solve him most of the night. Schneider stopped 27 of 29 shots faced and was unbeatable for nine shootout rounds.
The three stars of the game were all from the Devils: Severson was the third, Bratt the second and Gibbons the first. Severson led the defense in ice time with 23:42 – although Hall led all Devils with 24:46. Hall also led the Devils in shots on goal with six and Steven Santini was the hits leader with four (of the team’s 24 total). As a team, the Devils won 52-percent of their faceoffs.
With the loss tonight and Columbus’ win 1-0 win over the Calgary Flames, the Devils dropped out of first place in the Metro Division, surrendering it to the Blue Jackets. Although the Devils still have games in hand.
Next up, the Devils will faceoff with the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center the night following Thanksgiving. That will be the Devils’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night and will finish up the season series with Vancouver. Until then, everyone have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.