It took Alain Nasreddine eight tries, but he finally has his first win as a National Hockey League head coach. The Devils defeated the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on a late Kyle Palmieri goal at Gila River Arena in Glendale last night.
In the final game of a four-game road trip, the Devils picked up their first win of December. They snapped a season-high seven game winless streak.
Taylor Hall, a scratch last night in Colorado, was the same tonight, held out for “precautionary reasons” as per the team. No deal has been made yet, but Hall has more than likely played his final game for the New Jersey Devils. Hall joined John Hayden and Kevin Rooney in the press box as the lineup remained the same as last night save for one addition.
With Louis Domingue getting injured last night against the Avalanche, he was placed on injured reserve and Evan Cormier was called up from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. Cormier, getting his first NHL callup, was Mackenzie Blackwood’s backup. Blackwood made 31 saves on 32 Yotes shots for a .969 save percentage. Facing him was Darcy Kuemper who also made 31 saves on 33 shots by the Devils. He finished with a .939 save percentage on the night.
The Coyotes are one of the better teams this year in the league, but have struggled a bit at home, having just an 8-7-1 record in the desert coming into tonight. They were in their throwback Kachina 1990’s jerseys tonight. A personal aside as I feel these have aged very well and look much sharper than what Arizona usually wears.
The Devils first goal was centered around Michael McLeod, the forward called up to essentially take Hall’s roster spot. It came just 2:17 into the game when PK Subban got the puck quickly to Miles Wood on the breakout. Wood streaked up the left wing side and shot. The rebound came to McLeod, who threw it back on net. As the puck was heading towards goal, Jesper Boqvist, collapsing down on net, just got his stick on it to make sure it was headed over the goal line.
Initially, it seemed to be McLeod’s first NHL goal as he celebrated like he had scored, but Boqvist, who just got a piece of it, was awarded the Devils’ go-ahead tally. McLeod would have to settle for his first NHL assist, as he netted the primary and Wood had the secondary. It was 1-0 Devils in a quick start. That goal for Boqvist snapped a seven game goal drought for him and was his third of the year.
The Coyotes would answer at the 15:35 mark of the first when Alex Goligoski notched his third of the year. It came on the power play as Subban was nabbed for holding Derek Stepan’s stick at 13:38.
It came when Vinnie Hinostroza came bursting up the right wing and centered to Goligoski. Goligoski took the pass and wristed the puck by Blackwood to knot the game at one.
And it would remain that way through the second period. On the power play, Arizona was 1-for-3 with four shots while the Devils were 0-for-3 with five shots. The Devils also mustered a shorthanded shot.
The third began with a bang as Damon Severson hit the crossbar in all alone on Kuemper and Goligoski just flubbed a nice pass from Nick Schmaltz with a wide-open net to keep it tied. It would remain that way until the 11:34 mark of the period when Kyle Palmieri notched his 12th of the year.
The goal came when Blackwood handled the puck and made a nice pass to Wood up the left wing to spring him. Wood dropped the puck to McLeod just inside the Arizona blue line and McLeod’s shot was blocked in front by a Coyotes’ player, but came right to the stick of Palmieri. He roofed it over Kuemper to give the Devils the 2-1 advantage.
Arizona would pull Kuemper with a little over two minutes to go in regulation. But New Jersey held them off, putting pressure on the Yotes and putting Kuemper back in his crease a few times. Nico Hischier was hauled down on an empty net chance as he broke into the Arizona zone with a Coyotes player on his back. No penalty was called, however.
And with that, the Devils notched their first victory since Thanksgiving night – their first win in the month of December.
Palmieri was the first star of the night while Blackwood netted second and Goligoski was the third (curious choices as McLeod and Wood each had a two point night). Blackwood, who played very well tonight, grabbed his ninth win of the year and the Devils their tenth.
The Devils held the slight edge in shots at 33-32 while Arizona won 59-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils outhit the Yotes 20 to 16 and had more blocked shots at 25-10.
Severson logged the most ice time with 22:33 (1:06 on the power play and 3:53 on the penalty kill included) while Hischier just edged Blake Coleman in leading the forwards with 18:58 (3:28 on the PP/2:07 on the PK included). Shots were led by Jesper Bratt with five, blocks by Andy Greene with five, hits by Wayne Simmonds, Travis Zajac, Coleman, Pavel Zacha, Boqvist, Severson, Sami Vatanen and PK Subban with two each. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Zajac, Zacha, Wood and Mirco Mueller with one each as almost every player played a part in this win.
Next up, the Devils will return home to faceoff with the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at Prudential Center. Puck drop is at 7 PM and we will have coverage for you right here then. Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone.