Sometimes a team just has another team’s number. You can’t always explain it, but it is what it is. Surely the Devils have been on the short end of a lot of those types of situations through the years, but right now it seems to be that way for them against the Vancouver Canucks. They won this afternoon 2-1, hanging on to sweep the season series against the Canucks.
Over their last 11 games against Vancouver, the Devils now have eight regulation wins, a pair of overtime wins and a shootout win. Mackenzie Blackwood remains unbeaten against the Canucks as well.
It was also Hughes Bowl II as Quinn was in the lineup for the Canucks and Jack was playing for the Devils. His parents were in the Rogers Arena, although it was Quinn who came away with a point today (an assist on the only Vancouver goal).
The Devils made some roster changes following the loss in Edmonton on Friday. Of course, Sami Vatanen was injured in that game and now has what the team is calling an upper body injury. He did not play tonight and will be evaluated when the team returns to New Jersey. John Hayden and Jesper Boqvist were the other scratches, as Boqvist was replaced with Kevin Rooney up front.
With Vatanen out, the defensive pairings were shuffled and Matt Tennyson slotted back in to replace Vatanen. Mirco Mueller and Tennyson were paired together as the bottom pairing today.
It was Hockey Fights Cancer night in Vancouver as the Canucks warmed up in their purple specialty jerseys and the ads on the dasher boards were also rendered in purple.
The Devils came into the game 0-for-10 on the power play in their last three games coming into today. That streak continued as the Devils were blanked on their first power play opportunity. But things would change on their second.
At 10:50 of the first period, Jordie Benn cross-checked Miles Wood and was sent off. On the ensuing man advantage, Taylor Hall made a nice pass through a seam to Kyle Palmieri, who made a slick touch pass to Wayne Simmonds at the side of the net. He slammed the puck home to make it 1-0 Devils at 11:48. Palmieri was kind of slow to get up after taking the hit to make the play, but he ended up OK. It was the Devils first goal in four periods (they were shutout in Edmonton, remember) and their first power play goal, as noted, in three games.
It only took 22 seconds for the Devils to double their lead and score the game-winner. This one came about at 12:10 of the first when Damon Severson took a blast of a shot from the point and Jesper Bratt tipped it by Canucks’ goalie Jacob Markstrom. Pavel Zacha had the secondary assist.
The Canucks would cut that lead in half when Brock Boeser scored on the power play 12:40 into the second period. Tennyson was off for holding and Boeser used his speed to create a goal. Boeser took a pass from JT Miller and sped up the right-wing boards, snapping the puck by Blackwood to end the Devils’ goalie’s shutout streak against the Canucks at 90:42 and cut the Devils lead to 2-1. Quinn Hughes had the secondary assist on the goal.
The Devils finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play with four shots. Vancouver was 1-for-3 with six shots on goal.
The third period featured a strange sequence of plays that led to a controversial non-goal.
It began when Severson had seemingly hooked a Vancouver player and the referees missed it completely, giving the Devils a break. Soon after, Taylor Hall took a hit in the near corner in the Vancouver zone and was called for embellishment. It was a dangerous hit with Hall in a slightly vulnerable position, but he was the only one penalized in what most would agree was a make up call by the officials.
The Devils killed off the Hall penalty and, as he was coming out of the box, he grabbed the puck on a breakaway. Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler kind of dove to get the puck off of Hall’s stick. He then crashed into Markstrom, his own goalie, taking the puck with him, and knocked the puck and the goalie into the net, dislodging it.
The call on the ice was no goal right away. Upon review by the situation room in Toronto, the call on the ice stood as no goal. There was little explanation to either John Hynes (who could not give a definitive answer as to what the call was in his post-game press conference) or the fans. The net was clearly off its moorings when the puck crossed the line, but it was Edler who knocked his own net off. We will hopefully get more of an explanation in the next few days by the NHL.
Vancouver pulled Markstrom with about two minutes to go for the extra attacker, but the Devils held on. After some timely blocks and some nail-biting icings, the game was over. They even buried an empty netter after time had already expired. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the two points for the Devils.
In goal, Blackwood turned aside 30 of the Canucks’ 31 shots for a .968 save percentage. Markstrom was 25-for-27 for a .926 save percentage.
The Devils’ won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs, not bad against a good faceoff team like Vancouver. They were outhit 24-13. The Devils had more blocked shots at 23-15 and the Canucks had eight giveaways to the Devils’ four.
Individually, Hall led in shots on goal with eight. Hits were led by Kevin Rooney, Simmonds, Blake Coleman and Tennyson who had two each. Blocks were led by Miles Wood, Andy Greene and PK Subban who each had three. Nico Hischier led in takeaways with one.
Time on ice was led by Subban with 24:50 (1:01 on the power play and 18 seconds shorthanded). The forwards were led by Hall with 17:56 (2:08 on the power play included).
Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Hopefully the site will be up and running again by then and we will see you then.