The Devils played four against their arch rivals and lost four to their arch rivals. They finished their four straight against the New York Rangers by losing 5-3. The two teams are done with their season series.
Some AHL news to get to first. According to an article on WNBF’s website (a news radio station in Binghamton, New York), the B-Devils may not be long for Binghamton.
The article, written by Bob Joseph, says that WBNG and WICZ in the city are reporting that the parent Devils are putting “demands that were unreasonable” on the B-Devils’ management.
Furthermore, WBNG is reporting that the current Utica Comets’ president has filed a trademark for the name “Utica Devils.” Utica was previously home to the Devils’ AHL affiliate in the late-80s to the early-90s.
The Utica Comets are the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate currently and Vancouver is the only western-based NHL team not to have their AHL affiliate in the west, which adds a little more credibility to this report.
Now to yesterday’s game. The biggest news coming out of the game was the NHL debut of Nolan Foote. With his father Adam in attendance, Foote had a good debut game. He notched an assist for a point and was a minus-1 in 8:07 of total ice time. He played the left side on the fourth line. He wore number 25.
In warmups, goaltenders Mackenzie Blackwood and Aaron Dell wore masks designed by a healthcare worker at Monmouth Medical Center (an RWJBarnabas Health affiliate) in honor of those who work in the healthcare industry. It was a great nod to those who work in a rough industry.
Speaking of goaltenders, Blackwood went for the Devils, making 21 save on 25 shots for an .840 save percentage. He stopped the Rangers’ lone shorthanded try and let in two of the three power play shots he faced. He was 19-for-21 at even strength. The Rangers went 2-for-5 on the power play.
The Rangers started Alexandar Georgiev and he made 25 saves on 28 total Devils shots for an .893 save percentage. He stopped two Devils shorthanded shots, two power play shots (the Devils were 0-for-1 on the power play) and 21-of-24 at even strength. In a strange situation, Georgiev got hurt and left the ice with 2:19 remaining in the first period, with Igor Shesterkin coming on in relief. He stopped the only two shots he saw (one on the power play) as the Devils finished with 30 shots to the Rangers’ 25.
The game started with a bang as, following a big hit on Andreas Johnsson, Nico Hischier stepped in to protect him. PK Subban then stepped up for HIschier and after some pushing and shoving, order was restored.
The Rangers got on the board first when Chris Kreider scored on the power play at the 6:31 mark. Mika Zibanejad skated in and faked a wrist shot from the far faceoff circle. He passed to Kreider at the side of the net and Kreider tapped the puck in for the early 1-0 lead for New York. Artemi Panarin had the secondary assist.
At 14:03 of the first, Vitali Kravtsov scored his first NHL goal (his first first goal had been denied last week by an offside challenge by the Devils) when Brett Howden passed to him, setting him up for a one-timer. He unloaded and beat Blackwood to make it 2-0 Rangers.
It was déjà vu all over again for the Devils and it was about to get worse.
At the 5:17 mark of the second, Alexis Lafreniere scored to put the Rangers up 3-0. Off the rush, Filip Chytil collected a pass from Kaapo Kakko in his skates and made a nice backhand pass to Lafreniere. Lafreniere also collected the puck in his skates and backhanded the puck by Blackwood to up the Rangers’ lead.
The Devils had hit the bottom but would begin to climb out from here.
But first, Jack Hughes took a tripping call at 14:19 of the second and was not happy. He slammed his stick against the glass twice, entered the penalty box and threw it onto the ice. He received a ten-minute misconduct along with the trip. But the Devils would fight back in the meantime.
At 18:55 of the second, Mikhail Maltsev made it 3-1. Subban blasted a shot from the point and the puck rebounded off of Yegor Sharangovich’s skate to Maltsev, who put it into a wide open side of the net.
Just 1:53 into the third period, Marian Studenic notched his first NHL goal when Maltsev got it to him just inside the Rangers’ blue line. He skated in and snapped a shot by Georgiev to get the Devils within one, 3-2. Johnsson had the secondary assist.
A few minutes later, at the 5:30 mark, the captain tied it. Nick Merkley won a puck battle along the near boards and threw it cross-ice to Foote at the inside edge of the far faceoff circle. Foote saw Hischier right near him in the slot. He passed and Hischier buried it to tie the game up at three. For Foote, his first NHL point in his first NHL game.
But the Rangers’ power play would strike again. At 17:00 into the third, Zibanejad scored when Adam Fox and Ryan Strome worked the puck around the perimeter and inside to Zibanejad in the slot. He took the pass and roofed it over Blackwood to give New York back the lead 4-3. The Devils poked the Rangers’ power play bear and got bitten.
Blackwood was pulled with just over a minute to go in regulation and Strome added an empty net goal from Colin Blackwell and Panarin to ice the game at 5-3. It was an automatic goal was Subban was backchecking and took a hooking penalty with Strome in the clear. No penalty served, but a goal that counted despite Strome missing the net.
So the Devils wrap up their season series with the Rangers not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The Devils outshot the Rangers 30-25, had a better faceoff win percentage at 57-percent, were outhit 16-8 and had 12 giveaways to the Rangers’ three. Both teams finished with 13 blocked shots.
Subban led in ice time with 27:51 while Sharangovich led the forwards with 22:04.
Hischier led in shots on goal with seven, Michael McLeod, Maltsev, Matt Tennyson, Ty Smith, Damon Severson, Jonas Siegenthaler and Subban all led in hits with one apiece. Subban led in blocks with two and five takeaways led that category from Hughes.
Next up, the Devils travel to the Steel City for three straight against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Tomorrow’s game is a 7 PM puck drop and we will have more timely coverage for you here then.
We will also talk about Alexander Holtz signing his Entry Level Contract, which happened today.
Until then, stay safe everyone!