The Devils had an almost insurmountable task ahead of them. Coming off of an afternoon OT victory against the Flyers, they would be right back at it less than twenty four hours later against the powerful Los Angeles Kings.
It was ugly at times, but they succeeded in picking up four points on the weekend with a 1-0 win over those Kings and have (for the time being) moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division, leapfrogging the Islanders.
There were no lineup changes to the Devils’ roster for the second half of the back-to-back aside from Keith Kinkaid getting the start over Cory Schneider. Eric Gelinas, Stefan Matteau and Tuomo Ruutu were the healthy scratches. Kinkaid will be getting a lot more ice time as the Devils have a few more back-to-backs coming up over the next month or so.
Kinkaid would make 27 saves as he posted his very first NHL shutout in his tenth NHL win. Facing him across the rink was Jhonas Enroth, getting the start for LA due to Jonathan Quick’s injury suffered in Boston last week. He made 17 saves on 18 total Devils shots.
Part of the reason for the Devils recent success has been their power play. They got another boost in that department in this game. The only goal of the game came after Los Angeles’ Vincent Lecavalier was called for hooking at 5:15 of the first period.
With the Devils a man up, Travis Zajac won the faceoff in the Kings’ zone, banking it off the wall to David Schlemko. He shot on net and the puck beat Enroth. Although Schlemko got credit for the goal, replays seemed to show Joseph Blandisi tipping the puck in off the heel of his stick. MSG+ analyst Ken Daneyko noticed it first, but as of the end of the game, the scoring had not been changed, although it still can be changed. That was the only goal of the game as the Devils led 1-0.
Late in the first, the Kings had a great scoring chance when Alec Martinez hit the crossbar. The Devils would go back on the power play a few moments later, when Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty was called for holding at 20:00 of the first. The Devils would have a full two minutes with the extra man at the start of the second period with a fresh sheet of ice.
The Devils would have a wonderful scoring chance on that power play when Jacob Josefson hit the post. The teams were now trading posts and both goalies were coming through with good play.
Because of that post, the Devils did not register their first shot of the second period until the 7:27 mark.
The Devils would go on another power play at 17:52 of the second when LA’s Nick Shore was called for holding Adam Henrique. The Devils had another good power play showing, with Lee Stempniak getting a good chance at a wide open net. The puck was just tipped away by Martinez at the last second.
The Devils had an injury scare when Tyler Kennedy took a shot to the knee at 8:44 of the third and limped off the ice. He did not return and there was no word on his status.
The main theme the announce crew was mentioning was stick positioning of the Devils. They were cutting down passing lanes and gaps by keeping their sticks where they needed to be. It allowed the team to weather a Kings offensive onslaught late. Keith Kinkaid also came up big with a few timely saves while nursing a 1-0 lead, his shutout was much deserved. Kinkaid’s childhood idol was Martin Brodeur and he is now only 124 shutouts from tying Marty for the NHL record.
Next up, the Devils welcome the Flyers back to The Rock. The Devils, including yesterday’s win, have gone 11-2-3 against Philadelphia since the start of the 2013 season. This also begins a run against Metro Division opponents over the next week that includes the Isles and the Capitals. The Devils will try to emulate what they did on Saturday and defeat the Flyers, hopefully kicking off a good week for them by getting some points in big Metro Division games.