It has been almost a decade since the Devils had last won a game in Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome. It has been a real house of horrors for the team. New Jersey had lost five straight games at the Saddledome. They would try to reverse their luck on Friday the thirteenth and pick up two crucial points on the road in southern Alberta.
Taylor Hall would end up playing a huge role in the Devils doing just that. Hall, a Calgary native, mentioned that he knew he was a visiting player last night after he heard some boo’s raining down on him late in the game against the Oilers. Now he would be in his hometown looking to make more of an impact for New Jersey.
But before we get to that, some lineup news, as Nick Lappin was sent back to Albany to make room for a returning Jacob Josefson. Josefson had missed about six games with an illness but he was better and back in. Karl Stollery and Blake Coleman were still up and in the lineup for the tonight. Andy Greene and Vern Fiddler were still out on injured reserve, although Greene could play as soon as Sunday in Vancouver. The coaching staff will make the decision after Saturday’s practice after the team arrives in British Columbia.
Healthy scratches for the Devils were Luke Gazdic, Seth Helgeson and Sergey Kalinin. Calgary sat Michael Ferland, Freddie Hamilton and Brett Kulak.
Two key players for both teams on this Friday the thirteenth each wear number 13 on their jerseys. Former two-time Flame Michael Cammalleri for the Devils and Salem, New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau for the Flames.
In goal, Keith Kinkaid got his first start in quite some time for the Devils. He would stop 31 of 32 Calgary shots. The Flames threw out their new number one, Chad Johnson. He made 34 saves on 36 Devils shots. And that was the real story for New Jersey, the shots. They could muster only 18 last night in Edmonton, against the Flames they put up 36 on the shot clock. In fact, in the first period, they doubled up the Flames 14-7 in the shot department.
The Flames have been one of the top teams at home in the NHL since November 30 and the Devils have not won in their last four, so the team would have a tough task ahead of them.
The game got off to a chippy tone when Kyle Quincey got into a scrap with the Flames’ Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway had hit Miles Wood from behind with a late hit (no interference was called on the play) and Wood was shaken up. Quincey came to his defense and ended up taking a roughing penalty along with the extra five for fighting. Calgary would have the power play, but the Devils were able to kill it.
In Johnny Gaudreau’s house, it was Montvale, New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri who got the scoring going at 6:22 of the first period. Jon Merrill fed Palmieri on the rush and he skated into the Calgary zone, firing a wrist shot by Johnson to make it 1-0 Devils. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist for his 16th helper of the season.
The Devils would double that lead at the 18:31 mark of the first when Taylor Hall connected in his home town. It was set up when the Flames’ Michael Frolik was called for hooking Damon Severson, putting New Jersey on the power play at 17:43. Hall took the puck on the half wall and passed to Stollery at the point. He gave the puck to Palmieri on the other side of the rink and Palmieri slid it back to Hall at the top of the far faceoff circle. He let loose a wrist shot that beat Johnson for the power play goal. The assist was Stollery’s first NHL point, so congratulations to him. It was now 2-0 Devils. The Devils finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play, still not enough to make their efficiency better, but a start for a sluggish power play unit. Calgary was 0-for-2.
Johnson would start off the second period with two huge saves on Josefson to keep the Flames in the game. Following that, there was some great back-and-forth firewagon action. The Flames came close to making it 2-1 when they trickled a puck through the crease.
Although that one did not go, they would get on the board later in the second, cutting New Jersey’s lead in half. It came at the 14:04 when Sean Monahan notched his 11th, beating Kinkaid with assists from Dougie Hamilton and Kris Versteeg.
The Devils were now up by one which would set up a frantic third period. Wood would have a breakaway late in the period, chipping the puck by the Calgary defense and using his speed to get by and in on net. Johnson made the save to preserve the 2-1 game.
Calgary would pull their goaltender with about 1:23 left in the game and would have some chances with a few icing calls that went against the Devils, setting up face offs deep in the Devils’ zone. The Devils would use their timeout with 12.5 seconds in the game and would lose the ensuing face off, and the Flames would pressure, but New Jersey hung on, winning 2-1. As mentioned, it was the Devils’ first win in the Saddledome in almost ten years. It was also Kinkaid’s first win since December 29.
So with those two points under their belts, the Devils head west to Vancouver to take on the Canucks, another good Western Conference team that is on the playoff bubble. That is a 4 PM local puck drop, 7 PM eastern time. We will find out then if the Devils can keep this momentum going before traveling to face a tough Minnesota team next week.