The New Jersey Devils’ bid for a clean sweep of their California road trip fell a little short. More to the point, they hit a roadblock known as the Anaheim Ducks. Even more to the point, they ran into Jakob Silfverberg and his linemates.
The Devils (who had defeated San Jose and Los Angeles earlier on this trip) came into Honda Center having not beaten the Ducks since 2013 (an overtime win in Anaheim).
Lineup-wise, they were still without Jacob Josefson, Cory Schneider and Jordin Tootoo. Defensemen Jon Merrill and Damon Severson also were watching the game from the press box.
The goaltending matchup saw the NHL’s third star of the week, Keith Kinkaid getting the start for New Jersey. He had given most of the credit for his being given the honor to his teammates and the shots that they blocked. In the end, though, this was not his night. He made 18 saves on 24 shots but was pulled after the Ducks’ sixth goal of the night. Yann Danis made his first NHL appearance of the year in relief, making two saves on three total shots faced.
The Ducks countered with Frederik Andersen. The big Danish goaltender made 24 saves and faced a total of 25 Devils shots. The Ducks have a bit of a goalie controversy going into the playoffs, as coach Bruce Boudreau has not named either Andersen or John Gibson as their number one yet. How the Ducks will address their goaltending situation will be something to look at going into the playoffs later this spring.
The first period passed by with relatively little going on. The Devils doubled up the Ducks in the shots department, 12-6. Unfortunately, the first period was not indicative of how the rest of the game would play out.
The Ducks kicked off the scoring just 32 seconds into the second period when Andrew Cogliano tipped in a Jakob Silfverberg shot. Ryan Kesler had the secondary assist. This line of Silfverberg, Cogliano and Kesler would go on to terrorize the Devils the rest of the night and the trio would be named the three stars of the game: Cogliano three, Kesler two and Silfverberg one.
Cogliano is also the current NHL iron man, playing in his 690th straight game since being called up by Edmonton in 2007, his debut.
The Devils would respond to the Ducks’ first goal at 1:09 when former-Duck Devante Smith-Pelly would continue his hot streak. The Devils answered right back when Tyler Kennedy skated the puck in with Smith-Pelly setting a slight pick. Kennedy went wide and then centered to Smith-Pelly, who hammered it home. The game was now tied at one and seemed to have things in hand. John Moore had the secondary assist.
Then the wheels fell off. It started at 3:44 when Kesler scored off the cycle, reversing the puck against the grain and confusing the Devils’ defense. Josh Manson and Cogliano had the assists on that one. The Ducks and Devils had combined for three goals in 3:12 in the beginning of the second period.
Anaheim would strike again at 5:30 when Silfverberg scored his first of three on the night from Manson and Clayton Stoner. It was on this goal that Devils’ goalie Keith Kinkaid felt that Kesler had interfered with him. He did not and the call on the ice stood. Devils coach John Hynes immediately called the team’s timeout, hoping to calm the storm. It would only get worse from there.
At 9:56, Silfverberg struck again, scoring from Kesler and Cogliano. It was now 4-1 Ducks and would stay that way as we headed into the second break. The Devils would be on the power play going into the third period, as Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm was called for tripping at 19:44 and the Devils would have that all important fresh sheet of ice for the majority of the man advantage.
When the teams headed back onto the ice for the third, the Devils must have felt that things could not have been any worse than the second period was. After all, they were on the power play. But the Ducks had other ideas. After killing off the penalty, Anaheim went right back on the attack. At 2:20, Corey Perry scored his 29th of the year, assists to Korbinian Holzer and Rickard Rakell. It was 5-1, Ducks.
At 6:16, Nick Ritchie scored his first career NHL goal in his 25th game when he beat Kinkaid on a wrist shot. Holzer and Shawn Horcoff had the assists. It was now 6 to 1 and Kinkaid was done for the night, getting relieved by Yann Danis. It was Danis’ first NHL appearance of the year, but he has been having a great season in the AHL.
Then, at 6:51, Andy Greene was called for cross checking to put the Ducks a man up. All it would take was one shot for Silfverberg to complete the hat trick and beat Danis at 7:13. Lindholm and Simon Despres had the assists. It was Silfverberg’s first NHL hat trick. The score stood at 7-1 and that was where it would end. It was the most lopsided loss so far for the Devils in 2015-16.
So the Devils need to shake this loss off as they head back to New Jersey for a single home game against the Minnesota Wild on St. Patrick’s Day. They lost to the Penguins 6-1 and countered that with an impressive showing in San Jose and Los Angeles, so it can be done. We will find out if the Devils have the luck of the Irish with them on Thursday or if this loss to the Ducks will get into their heads and further torpedo their chances at making the playoffs.