Sabres Slam Devils Again

The Devils did not get the month of December off on the right foot. They lost for the second time in Buffalo this year, giving up seven goals once again to the Sabres, falling 7-1 tonight at KeyBank Center.

This is coming off of a game versus the Rangers on Saturday where, for the first time in team history, they gave up two shorthanded goals and got shutout.

The Devils had some hope has they had won three of their last four games on the road, dating back to the game at Vancouver in the middle of November.

The Devils made some changes to the lineup as Jesper Boqvist, who made his NHL debut earlier in the year in Buffalo, was moved to the top line with Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. Taylor Hall would skate on a line with Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt.

John Hayden and Mirco Mueller remained the healthy scratches while Jack Hughes remained out with the lower body injury suffered in the Montreal game on Thanksgiving.

The Devils were in their reds tonight as the Sabres were again wearing their special 50th anniversary uniforms. Today was actually the 50th anniversary to the day, according to MSG’s Steve Cangialosi, that Buffalo was awarded a National Hockey League franchise, December 2, 1969.

Jack Eichel had a nine-game point streak coming into this contest and he wasted no time in making it ten.

The Buffalo captain scored just 2:46 into the game, right after the Devils had killed off a penalty (Blake Coleman went off for tripping just 44 seconds in). Rasmus Ristolainen centered the puck to Eichel on the doorstep. Devils goalie Louis Domingue made the initial save and Eichel hammered at the rebound to put it home. He scored on the first Sabres’ shot of the game.

Jeff Skinner put Buffalo up 2-0 when he scored at 4:59. Johan Larsson stole the puck at the Devils blueline and Skinner grabbed it, breaking in on a partial breakaway. He made a slight hesitation move and Domingue bit. Just like that, the Sabres were up a pair.

The next two came courtesy of Conor Sheary. The first came at 6:57 when the Devils were stopped on a 2-on-1 in the Sabres’ zone. Hall passed to Bratt and he tried to pass it back instead of shooting. By then, Hall had been cornered at a bad angle and Buffalo took control. They broke back the other way and Sheary potted his fourth of the year from Skinner and Larsson. That made it 3-0 Buffalo.

His fifth goal came at 16:41 when he came up the left-wing boards and threw it on net. Domingue blocked it aside, but the puck went off his blocker and up and over his body into the net. It was a strange one that Domingue would no doubt like to have back. Larsson and Jake McCabe had the assists on the goal that made it 4-0 Sabres.

The fifth goal for the Sabres came off the stick of Rasmus Asplund and was his first career NHL goal. It came at 19:02 of the first period when the Devils turned the puck over in their zone, and Casey Mittelstadt got it to Asplund at the far face off circle. He fired and beat Domingue to make it 5-0 Buffalo.

During the first period, Julien Fournier, one of the linesmen, got ill. This resulted in him leaving the game and the teams playing the rest of the game with just three officials: two referees and one linesman.

Following the first period, which saw Domingue get shelled and break his stick over his knee as he was leaving the ice at the end of the frame, Mackenzie Blackwood came on in relief. This was the first time since 1993 that the Devils had given up five goals in a single period and the second time that Blackwood relieved, as he had replaced Cory Schneider on opening night when the latter suffered muscle cramps.

At 3:22 of the second period, PK Subban had tried to single-handedly spark some offense and he barreled into the Buffalo goalie, Linus Ullmark. Colin Miller took exception and the two went off with matching roughing minors. This resulted in two minutes of four-on-four hockey.

During that four-on-four time, at 4:40, Victor Olofsson scored off tic-tac-toe passing from Jack Eichel and Brandon Montour. Olofsson ended up shooting from the far faceoff circle to beat Blackwood. There was some hesitation at first as neither team realized the puck had gone in. Following that, Buffalo’s celebration was subdued afterwards as the game was beginning to get out of hand. It was now 6-0 Sabres.

The Devils got on the board on the power play at 8:10 of the second when Hischier scored. Zemgus Girgensons was called for tripping Nico at 6:31 putting New Jersey on the man advantage. The goal saw Nico take a hit in the corner to get the puck, pass to Nikita Gusev at the point. He went to the other point to Sami Vatanen. Vatanen fired on net and Hischier was there to chop at the rebound, which he put in to make it 6-1.

But the Sabres would get that one back at 12:08. Olofsson chipped the puck to Henri Jokiharju at the point and Jokiharju fired an absolute bomb by Blackwood. Eichel had the other assist on the goal which made it 7-1.

The goal also came on the power play, with Kyle Palmieri taking a tripping penalty against Mittelstadt to put Buffalo on the man advantage. Palmieri was incensed on the call, feeling that Mittelstadt embellished on the trip.

Overall, the Devils went 1-for-4 on the power play with 11 shots while the Sabres were 1-for-2 with two power play shots and a pair of shorthanded shots.

The Devils actually outshot the Sabres 21-8 in the second period, but had little to show for it. The Devils seemed to have gotten one late, but the puck actually went under the net as it was slightly dislodged. That was just the kind of night it was for the Devils.

In net, Domingue stopped 10 of the 15 shots he saw for a .667 save percentage in his twenty minutes of work. Blackwood was 15-for-17 with an .882 save percentage. Buffalo finished with 32 total shots on goal. Ullmark stopped 44 of New Jersey’s 45 shots for a .978 save percentage.

The Devils own 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had 22 hits to the Sabres’ nine. Buffalo had 12 blocked shots to the Devils’ four and 11 giveaways to the Devils’ seven.

Vatanen led all Devils’ skaters with 20:10 of ice time (3:18 on the power play and 1:44 on the PK) while Hall led the forwards with 16:57 (including 4:09 on the PP). Shots were led by Wayne Simmonds, Jesper Bratt and Vatanen, who all had five. In fact, every Devils’ skater registered a shot in the game except for Andy Greene.  Defenseman Matt Tennyson had the most hits with four. Hischier led in blocks with two and Hall, Simmonds and Zacha each led in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils will have to regroup right away. They return home tomorrow night to take on the Vegas Golden Knights at Prudential Center. We will have that for you right here tomorrow night.

Devils Shutout by Rangers, 4-0

Well, it had the makings of a good one. Saturday matinee on Thanksgiving weekend, your arch rivals in the building. But for Devils fans, this was one of those games that makes you want to hide under a rock somewhere. The Devils special teams imploded and the Rangers won 4-0 at Prudential Center this afternoon.

New Jersey had EIGHT power play opportunities and could not score on one of them. The Rangers took 34 minutes in penalties this afternoon and the Devils mustered seven shots with the man advantage, but to no avail.

By contrast, New York had just two power play chances, scored on one of them and fired four shots on Mackenzie Blackwood. They also had four shorthanded goals… and scored on two of them.

The Devils had some changes to their lineup, as Jack Hughes would not be facing off with Kaapo Kakko today. He got hit in the outside of the ankle blocking a shot during the Montreal game on Thursday and is now day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Kevin Rooney, however, was just activated off of injured reserve and was back in the lineup today. To make room for him on the roster, Brett Seney was sent down to AHL Binghamton. John Hayden and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches for the Devils.

The Devils were in their heritage white, red and green jerseys today, forcing the Rangers to wear their blues away from Madison Square Garden.

Despite how the game turned out, it was the Devils who actually got the first scoring chance when Travis Zajac hit the far post from the slot early in the first period.

But from there, things began to really fall apart. It began when Pavel Zacha took a holding penalty at the 10:57 mark of the first. On the power play, at 12:45, Kakko threaded the needle from the half wall, passing to Adam Fox at the side of the Devils’ net. He jammed it home to make it 1-0 Rangers. Jacob Trouba had the secondary assist on the goal.

Although there was no scoring in the second period, the Devils were set up for a nice spot in the third when Libor Hajek clipped Wayne Simmonds in the face with his stick at 19:27 of the second. It drew blood, the officials reviewed to make sure and a double minor penalty was called on Hajek. The Devils would have four minutes of power play time, with the majority of it coming in the early part of the third period.

However, things did not turn out as the Devils drew it up. It began with a turnover in the neutral zone that led to Brendan Lemieux and Mika Zibanejad entering the Devils’ zone on a 2-on-1. Lemieux passed and Zibanejad finished and the Rangers had their first of two shorties on the day. That also made it 2-0 New York.

Later in the third, at the 5:21 mark, another break for the Devils. Chris Kreider hit Matt Tennyson while Tennyson’s back was to Kreider. Rooney took exception to this and fought Kreider. In the end, Rooney received five minutes for fighting while Kreider got five for fighting plus two for boarding plus a game misconduct. The Devils would end up with a five-minute power play off of this, but once again the Rangers’ struck.

Once again, it was an odd man rush as Jesper Fast broke in on a 3-on-1. It was finished by Fast off a pass by Zibanejad and the Rangers had another shorthanded goal to make it 3-0. This goal came at 5:52 and Trouba had the other assist. It was 3-0 and the Rangers had not even notched an even strength goal.

A little later in the third, Zajac had a chance, being stopped on a partial breakaway only for the rebound to be put in by Miles Wood. But it was just one of those days. The puck crossed the goal line after the whistle had already been blown. Replay review by the referees confirmed this and the Devils did not get on the board.

The Devils would pull Blackwood with about three minutes to go in the game and, almost immediately, Brady Skjei scored into the empty net unassisted to give us our final of 4-0.

It was a rough afternoon for the Devils. Blackwood stopped 19 of 22 Ranger shots fired at him for a .864 save percentage while Alexander Georgiev stopped all 33 Devils shots he saw for the shutout.

The Devils won only 43-percent of the game’s faceoffs while outhitting the Rangers 32-17. The New Yorkers had 11 blocked shots to the Devils’ two and the Devils had 13 giveaways to the Rangers’ five.

Individually, time on ice was led by Sami Vatanen who had 23:29 (7:36 on the power play and 1:05 killing penalties). Nico Hischier led the forwards with 21:16 total ice (8:58 on the power play, 1:44 on the PK). Shots were led by Taylor Hall and Jesper Boqvist, who both had four. Wayne Simmonds had a very busy day, as in addition to drawing the high-sticking double minor from Hajek, he also led the team in hits with five. Blocks were led by Zajac and Vatanen, who each had one and takeaways were led by Hall and Nikita Gusev who had two apiece.

Next up, on Monday night, the Devils had up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Puck drop for that game is at 7 PM and we hope to see you here. Surely things can’t get any worse, can they?