The Devils played the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum for the first time since December 15, 2014. They lost tonight 4-1.
Back in 2014, they fell in a shootout 3-2 to the Isles with Scott Gomez scoring a regulation goal and a shootout goal to score what many thought would make him the final Devils’ goal scorer in the building. That was the trivia question on MSG+ tonight, but Gomez was supplanted by Andy Greene in this game. (For the record, I cheated and looked up the information on Hockey-Reference.com.) That was about the only thing that went positively for the Devils in the 2019 game.
Before we begin, I would like to congratulate my brother and his wife as yesterday they welcomed their first child into the world. Congrats and good luck to Matt, Laina and little Ryan!
The Devils have had a rough go of it injury-wise over the last few weeks. Add Ben Lovejoy to that list of the walking wounded. Lovejoy was a scratch tonight with an upper body injury, joining Miles Wood (lower body) and Egor Yakovlev (healthy scratch) in the press box tonight. Steven Santini slotted back in on defense in place of Lovejoy.
On the subject of Taylor Hall, he remains out and the team said that they will determine his status next week (the Devils have their week-long bye week coming up). He is unlikely to play in the All-Star Game in San Jose in a little over a week. Kyle Palmieri will likely take his place as the Devils’ representative.
Mackenzie Blackwood got the start between the pipes for the Devils, making 22 saves on 25 shots for a .880 save percentage. Going for the Islanders was Robin Lehner who stopped 16 of 17 shots against for a .941 save percentage. The Islanders actually out shot the Devils 26-17 with an empty net goal late in the game. Blackwood, after a rough first period, settled in nicely. He made a stop in particular very late in the third period when the Devils got caught in a bad change, turned over the puck and Blackwood was forced to make a nice save and then fought off the rebound as well.
But overall, the Devils just could not get much going. Anders Lee scored the first goal of the game when he redirected a Nick Leddy shot by Blackwood at 5:48 of the first period. It was the first New York shot of the game and Jordan Eberle had the secondary assist.
The Isles would score again at the 9:19 mark of the first when Michael Dal Colle backhand tipped a Scott Mayfield slap pass from the point. Leo Komarov had the secondary assist on the goal that doubled the Islanders’ lead. For Dal Colle, this was his first career NHL goal.
Eberle would triple up the Islanders when he scored on the power play at 15:12 of the first. With Blake Coleman in the penalty box serving a cross checking minor, the Devils just could not control the puck and Eberle snapped a shot by Blackwood. Leddy and Brock Nelson had the assists on that goal. On the night, the Devils were 0-for-2 on the power play with two shots. They also added a shorthanded shot on special teams. The Islanders were 1-for-3 with a trio of shots on the power play.
New Jersey would notch their only goal of the night when Damon Severson shot through traffic and Andy Greene tipped his shot by Lehner. That one made it 3-1 at the 7:07 mark of the third period and seemed like it would be the goal to turn things around.
But the Isles stifled the Devils and, when New Jersey pulled Blackwood with about 2:30 remaining in regulation, New York put a cap on it. Lee scored into the empty net from Josh Bailey at 17:51 of the third.
In the end, Lee was named the game’s first star (a pair of goals), Dal Colle (first NHL goal) was the second star and Eberle (a goal and an assist) was the third star. New York now moves to within a point of first place in the Metro Division with a big matchup with first place Washington tomorrow night.
As for the Devils, they won 50-percent of the game’s faceoffs, splitting evenly with the Isles, had 31 hits to the Islanders’ 29 and had more blocked shots (19-13) in the game. The Islanders had more giveaways at 13 to the Devils’ five.
Greene led all New Jersey skaters in ice time with 23:30 (3:43 shorthanded included). Travis Zajac led all forwards with 20:08 (including 1:39 on the power play and 3:07 on the penalty kill). Shots on goal were led by Greene with five, hits were led by Sami Vatanen with four, blocks were led by Greene with five and takeaways by Zajac and Blake Coleman with one each. In addition, Coleman’s five game point scoring streak came to an end in this game.
Next up, the Devils will take on the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday at home with a 1 PM puck drop. The Ducks have been struggling mightily of late and the Devils will look to capitalize on that as they head into their bye week. We will have coverage of the game here for you then. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below, as they are always welcome.