The Devils are hot right now, there is no doubt about that. They came into Canadian Tire Centre to take on the Ottawa Senators with a 4-1-0 record off of a big shootout win against the Lightning. How would they fare against a more defensive-minded Guy Boucher team? Win 5-4 in overtime after coming back from being two goals down is the answer to that, apparently.
The Sens are off to a hot start themselves, with only one regulation loss to their credit so far this year going into tonight. But New Jersey would be up for that challenge and would find the win column the hard way.
Some roster changes as Dalton Prout was back in on defense while Mirco Mueller and Ben Lovejoy sat. Up front, Stefan Noesen slotted in for Jimmy Hayes was out. Cory Schneider would start the game with the idea that Keith Kinkaid would go tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks, although Kinkaid would end up coming in in the third period and finishing the game as Cory left with a lower body injury.
Cory would start the game with a nice save on a Sens’ breakaway to get the ball rolling. The first goal of the game was cause to celebrate. Nico Hischier potted his first NHL goal just 2:30 into the game. It came when Taylor Hall got the puck in the far corner and cycled it to Drew Stafford. Stafford could not find anything on Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson’s glove side. He skated the puck behind the net and made a nice pass to Hischier, who was camped out in front of the net and buried it to make it 1-0 Devils. Congratulations to Nico on his first NHL goal.
Prout was whistled for roughing 21 seconds after the Hischier goal, resulting in an Ottawa power play that they would convert on. Kyle Turris scored from Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith to tie it up six seconds into the man advantage to tie things at one. For the night, Ottawa was 2-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-4.
It took Nico Hischier five games into his career to get his first NHL goal, but would only take him another 1:51 to get his second. At 4:21, Pavel Zacha won an offensive zone draw back to John Moore, who slap passed the puck to Hall behind the Senators’ net. Hall tried to stuff it short side and Hischier was able to chip in the loose puck in the crease. Boucher and the Sens would challenge for goaltender interference, saying that Hischier bumped into Anderson, but the call on the ice was confirmed and it was a good goal. The Devils took the 2-1 lead and Nico had his first two goals of his career. He and Hall were the first of several Devils with multi-point nights – also including Moore and Kyle Palmieri.
But the second period would not be kind to the Devils. Ottawa would score three unanswered goals and their number one goaltender would go down with an injury.
Derick Brassard tied things up for the Sens at 5:07 of the second from Bobby Ryan and Karlsson. His goal came right after a Devils scoring chance at the other end of the rink as the Devils were about to be whisted on a delayed penalty. After that, Alex Burrows scored on the power play while Damon Severson was sitting for interference. His goal came at 7:15 from Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. That gave Ottawa the 3-2 lead. Tom Pyatt would make it 4-2 at 15:49 when his shot snuck in between the post and Schneider’s leg. JG Pageau had the lone assist on that one.
Coming out for the third period, the Devils were trailing and Keith Kinkaid was suddenly between the pipes. Cory had gone down with the aforementioned lower body injury and Kinkaid would see some action a night prior to his scheduled start tomorrow against San Jose.
The Devils would cut the Sens’ lead to one goal just 4:03 into the third period when Taylor Hall took a hit just inside the Ottawa blueline and the loose puck came to Palmieri. Palmieri grabbed it and made a nice move, roofing the puck over Anderson to cut the score to 4-3. It was a great play all around, with Hall sacrificing himself to make the play and Palmieri finishing it.
The Devils were not done there, however. Marcus Johansson tied things at four at the 15:05 mark of the third when Johansson cycled the puck behind the net to Palmieri. Palmieri was strong on the boards, winning the battle to get the puck in front to Johansson, who chipped it by Anderson to knot things up. Again, another great play as Palmieri really battled behind the net for the loose puck, winning that battle and getting the puck to Johansson who finished. Severson also made a nice play to keep the puck in the Senators’ zone.
The Devils had clawed and scratched their way back into the game and Kinkaid kept it that way with a late period save on Bobby Ryan to keep things tied up.
With regulation expiring, New Jersey had secured at least a point and were headed to overtime for the second straight game. And this one ended in the Devils’ favor.
Just 1:20 into the bonus period, Hall found Moore cutting through the neutral zone. Moore then turned on the jets, coming up the wing with Nico Hischier and electing to shoot, beating Anderson to give the Devils the win. Moore now has the most 3-on-3 overtime goals by a defenseman since that format for OT began. Hischier and Hall had the assists on the goal, meaning that Hischier finished with two goals and an assist, Hall had four assists, Moore had a goal and an assist and Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist. Not a bad night’s work for the Devils overall.
Goaltending-wise, Schneider made 20 saves on 24 Ottawa shots while Kinkaid stopped all nine he saw. The Senators had a game total of 33 shots. Anderson made 41 saves on 46 Devils shots. The Devils had eight shots on the power play for the night. Ottawa mustered up six, but, as noted, had two goals with the extra attacker.
So with that win, the Devils move to 6-1-0 as they get set to take on the San Jose Sharks tomorrow in the second half of a back-to-back at Prudential Center. As of now, they are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division all alone, with Columbus’ loss to Tampa tonight. Pete DeBoer’s team has been struggling of late. We will find out if the Devils can continue their hot streak tomorrow night.