Devils Winless Streak Continues, Fall to Wild 4-2

The Devils’ woeful home stand continued with the Minnesota Wild coming to town. The Wild, who are in the middle of a playoff race in the Western Conference, had not yet won a game in the month of February. Well, they got their first this afternoon with a 4-2 win over the Devils at Prudential Center.

The injuries continued to pile up as Miles Wood was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury suffered in the Islander game on Thursday. He is day-to-day. They did get Joey Anderson back from IR, however, and he was back in the lineup today. Anderson, the only Minnesota native in the Devils’ lineup, broke his ankle back on November 21 against Montreal. Travis Zajac had a close call in the Islander game as well, as he was hit in the ear with a puck and had multiple stitches and had to pass concussion tests. He returned in that game and did play today.

A couple of close calls late in the third period of this game saw Marcus Johansson in a collision with Marcus Foligno where he landed awkwardly. He went down the tunnel but did return. In the same sequence, Kyle Palmieri went down in a tangle with Jordan Greenway and was nicked by his skate blade. He did not miss a shift, however as it could have been a lot worse than it actually was.

The healthy scratches for the Devils featured Steven Santini and two call ups from Binghamton: Nick Lappin and Ryan Murphy. The speculation is that Lappin and Murphy will play tomorrow in the game against Carolina.

Between the pipes, Cory Schneider came right back following his stellar performance against the Islanders on Thursday. He faced 33 shots and stopped 29 of them for an .879 save percentage. Devan Dubnyk saw just 18 shots and stopped 16 of them for an .889 save percentage.

On special teams, the Devils were pretty dismal, going 0-for-2 with a single shot on net. Minnesota was 1-for-3 with four power play shots. They also had two shorthanded shots on Cory.

A milestone as John Hynes was coaching his 300th game with the Devils, which puts him in second place for games coached for the franchise behind only Jacques Lemaire. Congratulations to Hynes on this step in his career.

Brett Seney, who has slotted in at left wing on the fourth line, replacing the traded Brian Boyle, got the scoring kicked off when he notched one at 6:57 into the game. Will Butcher found Seney in the neutral zone and Seney used his speed to break by the Wild defense. He then snapped a shot by Dubnyk to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

But Minnesota would level things off before the first intermission when Foligno scored at the 12:19 mark. It was off a mad scramble in front of the Devils net where Schneider lost his stick. Foligno had Cory down and fired a nice backhander upstairs into the empty net. Greg Pateryn and Luke Kunin had the assists on the goal that made it 1-1.

The Devils looked good on their first penalty kill of the game, in the second period, as the Wild had a lot of zone time but no shots on goal. However, right after killing that penalty, they were back on the PK when Ben Lovejoy took a high-sticking call against Jason Zucker at 4:24. Ten seconds into the power play, Zach Parise tipped a Ryan Suter shot by Cory to give the Wild the 2-1 lead. Parise received a smattering of boos today, but nothing like he used to as the fans have by and large accepted the fact that he is in Minnesota now and are at peace with that.

Immediately following that goal, at 4:36 of the second, Foligno and Kurtis Gabriel had a spirited fight that ended in a draw. Gabriel was trying to get things going for the Devils and Foligno obliged him.

The Wild scored their third unanswered at 15:07 of the second period when Joel Eriksson Ek shoveled the puck into an empty net when Cory was down. Jonas Brodin and Foligno had the assists as Foligno finished off the Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). It was 3-1 Minnesota.

In the third period, Jesper Bratt put the Devils within striking distance when Nico Hischier worked the puck down low and the puck kind of worked its way to Damon Severson at the point. Severson made a nice one-touch pass to Bratt in front and he put the puck into the net to make it 3-2. That goal came at 3:56 of the third and Severson was credited with the lone assist.

But the Devils allowed Minnesota to stay in it and gave up one that Cory would no doubt like to have back. It occurred at the 7:40 mark and happened when Kunin grabbed a Lovejoy clearing attempt in the neutral zone. Kunin skated by Lovejoy up the left wing and wristed the puck by Schneider for the unassisted goal to make it 4-2 Wild. And that would be our final.

The Devils would pull Cory with about 2:35 remaining in the game, but to no avail. The Devils lost, but will be able to get their revenge in six days time when they visit Minnesota at the end of their next road trip.

The Devils were out shot by a wide margin, at 33 to 18. Minnesota also won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs while also blocking more shots (15-14) and having fewer giveaways (16-6). The Devils did out hit the Wild 33 to 23.

Individually, Severson led all New Jersey skaters with 25:00 of ice time (including 2:53 on the PP and 1:07 on the PK as he is now playing in all situations). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 23:19 (2:31 of power play time and 1:09 shorthanded). Shots were led by Palmieri with three, Gabriel registered seven hits to lead there and Andy Greene had five blocked shots to lead in that category. Hischier also led in takeaways with three.

Next up, tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM, the Carolina Hurricanes come into The Rock to face the slumping Devils. Hopefully they can salvage a win out of this home stand. We will have that for you right here and hope you have a good weekend.

Schneider Plays Well, But Devils Fall to Isles in Shootout

The Devils fell tonight in a shootout to the New York Islanders at Prudential Center, 2-1 as they were swept in the season series between the teams. But the real story tonight was Cory Schneider. Activated off of injured reserve the other night, he made his first start since December 14 versus the Vegas Golden Knights and he was very good. You could see the confidence coming back to Cory with each save he made and he held the Isles scoreless through the second and third periods as well as overtime and three rounds of the shootout. Cory played well enough to be named the game’s second star by the media and to earn back the fan’s confidence enough to get a “Cory!” chant late in the game.

New Jersey was coming into the game off of the heels of the trade that sent Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Boyle, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was sent to the Preds in exchange for a second round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

But while one player was subtracted from the Devils’ roster, another was returning. Ben Lovejoy, a key part of the Devils’ penalty kill, came off of IR tonight playing on the third pairing with Mirco Mueller. In addition, Eric Gryba slotted in on defense in his first NHL appearance since October 27 against Florida. With those two d-men in, Steven Santini and Egor Yakovlev were healthy scratches. In addition to all of that, Travis Zajac was hit in the ear with a puck middle of the first period but he returned early in the second. Miles Wood also left injured midway through the second and seemed to be favoring his right shoulder after he fell awkwardly on it as he was hit off balance.

The netminder matchup featured Cory making his return against an Islander team that is first in the NHL in team goals against and save percentage. In addition, the New York starter, Thomas Greiss, had a shut out streak of over an hour coming into tonight according to the MSG broadcast crew. Cory ended up making 27 saves on 28 Islander shots for a .964 save percentage. Greiss stopped 30 of 31 for a .968 save percentage. But again, stats do not do enough justice to how Schneider played tonight. He was, again, gaining confidence as the game went on and came up big a few times, including a point blank shot early in the game against Mat Barzal.

Special teams saw the Devils go 0-for-3 on the power play with five total shots. The Devils also had a pair of shorthanded shots. The Islanders were 0-for-4 on the PP with six power play shots.

Kevin Rooney put the Devils on the board early with the 1-0 lead at the 5:32 mark of the first period. He used a burst of speed to get around the Isles’ d-man and shot under the crossbar, glove side, beating Greiss. That ended Greiss’ shut out streak and put the Devils in front. Kurtis Gabriel and Jesper Bratt had the assists on the goal.

But while the Devils scored early, the Islanders found the net late in the first period. At 13:42, Barzal was coming out of the penalty box after serving a roughing minor and took a pass from Ryan Pulock for a clear-cut breakaway. He scored on a play that saw Blake Coleman, who was serving a coincidental roughing minor, go straight to the bench for a change instead of joining the play, allowing Barzal to walk right in. It was a tough play and Schneider really had no chance on the goal. The game was now tied up at one. Brock Nelson had the other assist on the goal.

According to Steve Cangialosi, the Islanders have not trailed going into an intermission since January 8 and that streak would continue tonight.

After a scoreless second and third period, we were off to overtime. Jesper Bratt had the best chance to end it for either team when hit clanged one off of both posts in the middle part of the OT. His shot hit the far post and then nailed the near post without ever going over the line or into the net. A rough break for the Devils and one that kept the game 1-1. When OT expired without a goal, we were headed to a shootout.

In the first round, Kyle Palmieri missed and the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle hit the crossbar on his attempt. Nico Hischier missed in the second round for the Devils and Barzal whiffed on his chance for New York. In the third round, Drew Stafford’s shot was saved by Greiss and Nelson’s was saved by Cory. In the sudden death fourth round, Bratt was stopped by Greiss and Josh Bailey became the hero, scoring to give the Isles the victory.

The Devils out shot the Islanders 31 to 28 and won a whopping 64-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils also threw 31 hits to the Isles’ 23 and blocked 13 shots to New York’s ten. The Devils doubled up on giveaways at 14 to the Islanders’ seven.

Individually, Marcus Johansson led all Devils skaters in ice time with 24:32 (5:04 on the power play) just beating out Damon Severson, who led the defensemen with 24:03 (4:10 on the power play and 2:49 shorthanded). Stafford and Bratt led in shots on goal with four each, Gabriel led in hits with eight, Mueller led in blocks with three and Zajac and Johansson led in takeaways with three each.

Next up, the Devils faceoff with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in a 1 PM puck drop at Prudential Center. We will have coverage here for you then as the Devils try to throw a monkey wrench into Minnesota’s playoff hopes. In the meantime, please feel free to leave a comment below if you would like. It is always appreciated.