Severson Scores Twice as Devils Defeat Islanders

Coming into tonight, the Devils were 0-4-1 all time in Brooklyn at Barclays Center. Since the Islanders will be moving in a few years, and this was New Jersey’s final trip this year to that building, there was a good chance that the Devils could end another year without a win there. But the Devils, who lost to the Isles ten days ago in Brooklyn, were determined to stop their slide, going as far as to declare this a four point game.

And they got it, defeating New York 4-1 to pick up crucial points over a hot divisional rival and, in doing, get their first victory ever in Brooklyn.

The Islanders were playing the second half of a back-to-back, having gotten in past 2 AM from Montreal, where they had gotten an overtime win over the Canadiens. They had been playing well since their defeat of the Devils ten days ago, coming out of their five day bye by blowing out the Rangers.

The Devils also had a wrinkle thrown into their goaltending plans. Cory Schneider was supposed to get the nod, but could not go due to illness. Long Island-native Keith Kinkaid went instead, making 25 saves on 26 shots in getting his first ever win against the team he grew up rooting for. Ken Appleby was the emergency call up from Binghamton and to make room for him, Steven Santini was optioned to the AHL club until Cory comes back. That was just a roster move to make room for the goaltender that they needed, not based on performance as per Deb Placey of MSG.

For the Isles, Jaroslav Halak made the start and made 38 stops on 42 Devils shots. He looked good early on, stopping Taylor Hall early and Damon Severson and Pavel Zacha several times each later on.

The Devils scratches included Schneider, Jimmy Hayes and Blake Coleman – the first time he has been scratched in his rookie year. Stefan Noesen slotted back in for Coleman. The Islanders are the walking wounded right now with Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas, Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk (among others) all injured.

The Isles got the frist goal of the game when Anders Lee (who was named the game’s third star of the night) blocked a John Moore shot in their zone, grabbed it and skated up ice on a breakaway, scoring through Kinkaid’s five hole. It was 1-0 New York just 1:39 into the contest. That goal was unassisted.

The Devils immediately got into some penalty trouble when Miles Wood (who played a fantastic game) got called for cross checking. The penalty killing unit killed that off, however and the Devils had passed their first big test of the night.

But, as weak as the Devils’ power play was in their last game against the Flyers, it was the power play that turned the game around fully for New Jersey tonight. The Islanders had received a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 12:18. With that nearly killed off, the Isles took another penalty when Alan Quine was whistled for slashing at 14:10. That would give them eight seconds of 5-on-3. When the first penalty expired and it was 5-on-4, Marcus Johansson won a faceoff in the Islanders zone, back to Kyle Palmieri at the near point. Palmieri slid it over to Sami Vatanen at the far point. He passed it back, with Palmieri firing the one timer over Halak’s glove hand to tie the game at one.

The power plays on the night saw the Devils go 1-for-3 with five shots and the Isles were 0-for-2 with a lone shot.

The first period ended with a bang as captain Andy Greene decided to get the team going himself when he fought Brock Nelson. It was the first career fight for both men. Nelson, however, is considerably bigger than the Devils d-man and Greene joked that he “blacked out” after Nelson asked him to go. It was Greene’s first fighting major in his 12 NHL seasons.

The game stayed tied at one until the 12:58 mark of the second period when Severson notched his first of the night to make it 2-1. It happened when Noesen rode Nick Leddy off of the puck deep in the Islanders’ zone. He took the loose puck and passed to Brian Gibbons in the slot. Gibbons took a massive hit from Shane Prince and the loose puck bounced to Severson, who beat Halak to give New Jersey the lead. Gibbons was injured but would return. Johansson would also block a shot with his arm that would require stitches, but he would return. The Isles would lose Prince to an upper body injury.

Severson got his second at 14:24 of the second (en route to being named the game’s first star) when Jesper Bratt passed from the far hashmarks to Ben Lovejoy at the near point. Lovejoy went D-to-D to Severson who cranked a bomb top shelf by Halak to make it 3-1. That was the insurance goal that the Devils needed.

Taylor Hall would add a fourth one at 18:20 of the second period. It came when Hall broke up ice with Nico Hischier on a 2-on-1 and elected to shoot himself. Halak just got a piece, but not enough and the Devils had the 4-1 lead. Bratt had the lone assist on the goal, giving him a two assist game. Hall would be named the game’s second star.

And that was it. Vatanen led the team in ice time with 21:11. Hall led in shots on goal with seven. Wood led in hits with three. Vatanen also led in blocks with five. The Devils won just over half of the game’s faceoffs with 51-percent.

So, with their first win of the 2018 calendar year under their belt, the Devils will again get a shot at the Washington Capitals when they invade Prudential Center on Thursday. The Devils will try to make it two in a row and grab another two important Metropolitan Division points from the Caps then.

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