For the first time in 357 days, nearly one year, the Prudential Center was (10-percent) full. Fans were in (limited) attendance and were cheering on the Devils.
Unfortunately, there was not much to cheer for as a tight defensive struggle led to a 2-1 New York Islanders win. The Devils have now dropped seven straight games at home.
The Devils were in their green Reverse Retro uniforms, which look very sharp on TV and must look great in person. The scoreboard also got in on the act and had a retro Meadowlands-inspired aesthetic.
About 1,800 fans witness Aaron Dell make his second start as a Devil, his first at home. He made 18 saves on 20 Islander shots for a .900 save percentage. He made nine saves on 11 shorthanded shots and stopped New York’s lone power play shot. He was eight-for-eight at even strength.
Facing him was Semyon Varlamov. The Isles goalie was busy as he stopped 28-of-29 for a .966 save percentage. He stopped a whopping 22 Devils power play shots and was six-for-seven at even strength.
The Devils outshot the Isles 29-20 and won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs, a marked improvement over recent outings in that category. Travis Zajac won 59-percent of his faceoffs, leading all Devils’ centers.
The Devils were 0-for-4 on the power play while the Islanders were 0-for-1. The lone Islander power play did come off of a weak phantom high stick, it should be noted.
The Devils outhit the Islanders, 16-10 while the Isles had 16 blocked shots to New Jersey’s seven. The Devils far outpaced the Isles in giveaways at 23-8 predictably.
The Devils and Islanders will play four times this month.
After two periods of scoreless hockey, Oliver Wahlstrom got New York on the board first when, off of a broken play in the Islander end, the Islanders recovered the puck and JG Pageau chipped it up to Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom caught the pass in the neutral zone and headed in. The Devils were back on their heels a bit and Wahlstrom beat Dell to make it 1-0. Nick Leddy had the secondary assist on the goal that came 1:10 into the third.
Once the Islanders scored first this season, they were 8-1-2 and that number was about to improve.
Anders Lee made it 2-0 at the 7:51 mark of the third when Andy Greene wrapped the puck around to Lee. Lee was waiting at the side of the Devils’ net and he jammed at it, trying to stuff it by Dell. Dell made the initial save, but Lee scored on the rebound, making it 2-0. Mat Barzal had the secondary assist.
For Greene, his assist was the first point against his former team.
The Devils would pull Dell with about 3:57 to go in regulation and it would bear a bit of fruit.
With 14 seconds left in the game, Nikita Gusev created a turnover at the far boards. Yegor Sharangovich recovered the puck and passed to Miles Wood at the near side of the Islander net. Wood shoveled it in, ending a 100-plus minute Islander shutout streak and making it 2-1.
But it was too little too late.
Wood led a barrage of Devils shots with five, Nate Bastian led in hits with three, Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three and takeaways were led by Zajac and Gusev with two apiece.
Pavel Zacha’s point streak came to an end at ten games. It was the longest active streak in the NHL at the time it ended.
PK Subban led in time on ice with 23:17 while Jack Hughes led the forwards with 20:28 of ice time.
Next up, Thursday night, the Devils will welcome the Rangers into Prudential Center. That game is at 7 PM and we will see you then.
Until then, stay safe everyone!