Devils Fall to Oilers in Shootout

The Devils’ woes continue as their first win eludes them once again. They fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout after failing to pull away from the Oilers.

To begin with, the Devils would be without defenseman and captain Andy Greene. He suffered an upper body injury last night in Philadelphia and was unavailable. Mirco Mueller slotted in for the injured Greene, playing on the third pairing with Connor Carrick. In another lineup change, Pavel Zacha was in for John Hayden up front.

Former Devil Adam Larsson was out for Edmonton as he suffered a broken leg on opening night and has been on long-term injured reserve.

This game would feature five first overall picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid for the Oilers and Taylor Hall – an Oiler pick – Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes for the Devils). Steve Cangialosi on MSG Network referred to it as the “Taylor Hall Invitational” with Hall being the most senior of the picks and the Draft Lottery “good luck charm” for both teams.

The Oilers would be a stiff challenge for the Devils, coming into the game with a 3-0-0 record and currently standing fifth in the NHL in both the power play and penalty kill and second in goals per game.

The first period began with PK Subban leaving the game with an apparent injury. He had only taken one or two shifts before leaving the game. Thankfully, he would return in the second period and finish the game.

The Devils opened the scoring just 6:14 in the game when Kyle Palmieri (playing in his 500th NHL game) blocked a shot at the Devils’ blue line and was off to the races with Taylor Hall on a 2-on-1. He faked a pass, keeping Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen from getting set and roofed the shot to give the Devils the early 1-0 lead.

But in a trend that would rear its ugly head all night, the Oilers struck back just about 3:03 later. Zack Kassian played tic-tac-toe to Darnell Nurse, who tapped the puck over to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl then put it behind Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to tie it.

The Oilers had tied things heading into the first intermission.

The Devils would retake the lead 14:12 into the second when Jesper Bratt hung on to the puck in the Oiler zone, spinning and controlling it before finding Nikita Gusev coming off the bench. Gusev took a pass from Bratt and fired it by Koskinen to make it 2-1 Devils.

That, however, did not last long as James Neal continued his hot streak by tipping a Nugent-Hopkins one-time shot by Blackwood on the power play at 19:32 of the second. McDavid had the secondary assist. Once again, the Devils had given up a goal in the waning moments of a period and this one tied the game at two apiece.

The Devils would again retake the lead when Damon Severson scored at 15:35 of the third. The Devils kept extended pressure in the Oiler zone, something other teams have been doing to the Devils a lot this year. Hall was able to make a nifty pass to Severson, who was at the far faceoff circle. The defenseman then corralled it in his skates and shot over a fallen Koskinen to give the Devils the 3-2 lead. Hischier had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Oilers would pull Koskinen with about 1:30 to go in the game for the 6-on-5 man advantage. Then tragedy for the Devils as Blake Coleman tripped up McDavid setting up an Edmonton power play.

On the ensuing power play, an Oscar Klefbom shot got behind Blackwood and McDavid was there to hammer it home. However, the whistle had seemed to blow and the play was seemingly dead when the puck crossed the line. The call on the ice was a good goal and replays on TV showed that the whistle had blown after the puck was in the net. The goal was reviewed and the call on the ice stood: it was a good goal and now the score was 3-3.

Coincidentally, this was the first time Connor McDavid had scored against the Devils. New Jersey was the final team in the NHL that he had scored against and this was a crucial one for them.

When time ran out on regulation, the Devils were headed to overtime for the second game this season. It was an eventful, if not fruitful one, too. Hall hit the crossbar on a breakaway, then missed the net on another one where he just ran out of room. Subban missed a chance as well, using too many moves and simply running out of room.

With those chances for the Devils not going in and Edmonton not scoring, we were off to a shootout.

In the first round, Gusev lost control of the puck and Nugent-Hopkins whiffed on his attempt. In the second round, Hughes’ shot was turned aside by Koskinen and McDavid had his saved by Blackwood. In the third round, Hall was also turned aside while trying to go five-hole on Koskinen and Draisaitl scored to give the Oilers the 4-3 victory.

Draisaitl was named the game’s first star with a goal and the shootout winner. McDavid was the second star with the game-tying goal and Gusev the third with his goal for the Devils.

In goal, Koskinen made 28 saves on 31 Devils shots for a .903 save percentage. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 for an .864 save percentage.

On the power play, the Oilers were 2-for-3 with five shots. They also registered a shot shorthanded. The Devils have still yet to score on the man advantage, going 0-for-2 tonight with a pair of shots.

As a team, the Devils won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Oilers 31-26. Edmonton had more blocked shots at 14 to the Devils’ 12. Each team had six giveaways apiece.

Individually, the Devils’ skaters were led in ice time by Severson with 25:02 (including 29 seconds on the power play and 56 seconds on the penalty kill). Hall led the forwards with 20:55 (2:14 of PP time). Miles Wood led in shots on goal with five, Coleman led in hits with a whopping 10 and Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three. Coleman led in takeaways with three.

Next up for the Devils, they ship up to Boston for a Saturday night tilt against the Bruins. Boston is another team that has yet to suffer a loss and will be a good test for the Devils. Hopefully, things break right and we can all breath a sigh of relief then with a “W” on Saturday.

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