It was a celebration of the past at Prudential Center tonight as the Devils honored the 20th anniversary of the first Stanley Cup champions of the new millennium. However, the current iteration of the team was able to push the Dallas Stars to overtime, only to fall victim to a heartbreaker. They lost 3-2.
The night started off with the aforementioned ceremony honoring the 2000 Stanley Cup champs. It featured each member of the support staff, coaching staff, former general manager Lou Lamoriello, and each of the players attending the reunion. Of course, the biggest ovations from the fans came for the likes of Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Patrik Elias. In a great moment, the Stanley Cup itself was brought out and skated around the rink by Petr Sykora. If you will remember, Sykora was injured in game six of the Cup Final and never actually got to hoist the Cup on the ice in Dallas. Elias wore his jersey that night in a symbolic tribute, but this really was the perfect “full circle moment.” To see Sykora in skates getting to finally skate the Cup was a thing that was really well-done by the Devils.
From there, it was on to the 2020 team and a game against the 2020 Dallas Stars.
Despite its disappointing outcome, this one was a pretty good one from start to finish. As far as roster changes, Mirco Mueller was replaced by Connor Carrick on the blue line in the only move.
The goaltending matchup saw Louis Domingue get his first start since the bye week/All-Star break. He stopped 28 of the 31 shots Dallas peppered him with for a .903 save percentage on the night. The Stars opposed him with Ben Bishop, who turned aside 29 of the 31 shots the Devils threw at him for a .935 save percentage. Yes, both teams finished with the exact number of shots on goal, as they were even at nine in the first, the Stars edged the Devils in the second, 11-8 and the Devils edged Dallas in the third, 13-8. In OT, the Stars had three shots to the Devils’ one.
On special teams, the Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot that they scored on, as we will get to. Dallas was 0-for-2 on the man advantage with two shots on goal. They did not have a shorthanded shot.
That shorty of the Devils’ came 13:09 into the game when Kevin Rooney scored. PK Subban had gone off for interfering with Tyler Seguin to set up the Dallas power play, but once again, it was Blake Coleman that set up this shorthanded goal for the Devils. Coleman got the puck in deep into the Dallas end and poked it towards net. It rebounded off of a Stars defender and came right to Rooney in the high slot. He ripped a slap shot that beat Bishop to make it 1-0 Devils. Although the goal was officially unassisted, it was the Plano, Texas-native who created this goal all the way.
That was it for the scoring in the first. In the second, Jason Dickinson tied things up at the 18:42 mark when Corey Perry centered a pass from behind the Devils net and Dickinson buried the chance. Stephen Johns had the secondary assist.
As we headed into the third period tied at one apiece, things were getting tight. But it would only take Dallas 5:04 into the third frame to take their first lead of the evening. It came when Jamie Oleksiak stole the puck in the neutral zone and was off with numbers. He gave to Joel Kiviranta, who shot. Domingue stopped that, but the rebound came back to Kiviranta and he made sure to bury the second chance. It gave Dallas the 2-1 lead.
However, the Devils would get that one back late. At the 11:53 mark of the third, Damon Severson took a pass at the Stars’ blue line and passed down to Jesper Bratt at the near half wall. He then passed to Nico Hischier, who had switched with Severson at the point. Nico fired and beat Bishop cleanly to tie the game back up at two.
And that was where it remained when regulation could not settle things.
In overtime, it only took Dallas 1:39 to end things. Esa Lindell gained control of the puck in the Dallas end and broke Mattias Janmark out. He skated the puck into the Devils zone and took a shot on Domingue. Domingue could not handle the rebound and a trailing Joe Pavelski put it home to give the Stars the 3-2 victory in OT.
Domingue would be named the game’s third star while Hischier was the second and Pavelski, with the game-winner in OT, was the first.
The Devils won only a paltry 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Coleman leading the centers with a personal 67-percent faceoff average. The Devils outhit the Stars, 19-10 and had more blocked shots at 12-9, but also turned over 12 pucks to the Stars’ three turnovers.
Severson led the Devils’ skaters with 24:06 of ice time (including 2:24 on the power play and 3:06 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 18:41 (including 11 seconds on the power play and 2:32 on the PK).
Shots on goal were led by Jack Hughes with four individually. Hits were led by John Hayden and Rooney with three each. Blocks were led by Carrick with three and takeaways by Coleman with one.
Next up, the Devils remain at home to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. We will have that for you right here then. Until then, enjoy the Super Bowl everyone and go Niners!