The Devils continued their homestand tonight at Prudential Center against the Dallas Stars. The game itself seemed to epitomize the Devils’ season: they played hard and well, but only well enough to lose the game. They lost in overtime 2-1.
Prior to the game, there was the NHL Centennial Fan Arena outside the Prudential Center in Championship Plaza. It featured a large trailer fitted out as a museum that focused not only on the history of the NHL in general, but also had some specific interactive displays dedicated to the Devils themselves. One kiosk allowed fans to look up all of the captains in Devils history. You could also have your picture taken near a locker that either had a Devils’ players name over it, or a name of your choosing. Plus displays of pucks, sticks, helmets and other equipment, jerseys, an interactive 3D Stanley Cup kiosk (where you could get a closer look at the details of Lord Stanley’s Cup) and more were all featured in this trailer. It was like a mini Hockey Hall of Fame.
The longest line in this “arena” was to have your picture taken with the Cup itself. According to Devil Alumni Bruce Driver, who was there and gave a short speech, this was the actual presentation trophy, complete with mistakes and all, that is given to the winning team at the end of the playoffs. The one in the Hockey Hall of Fame is a replica trophy on display there and features none of the little “typos” that are on the presentation trophy.
There were also various street hockey rinks set up for kids to play in as well as a virtual reality Zamboni game and refreshment trucks and a merchandise stand. It was a neat little encapsulation of NHL history all put into one great experience. There were fans from different teams present, not just Devils fans. Islander, Ranger, Flyer, Blackhawk, Blue, Star, King and Canadien fans were all spotted.
Then it was on to the game itself, the “main event” of the evening if you will.
The roster for the Devils was largely the same; Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson and Devante Smith-Pelly are all injured. Joseph Blandisi was the healthy scratch for New Jersey. Dallas was without Jiri Hudler, Patrik Nemeth, Antoine Roussel and Patrick Sharp.
The goalie matchup saw the Devils go to Keith Kinkaid on the second half of the back-to-back, resting Cory Schneider. Kinkaid made 30 saves on 32 total Dallas shots for a .938 save percentage. Kinkaid looked sharp for most of the night, making the big save when he had to. The Stars countered with Kari Lehtonen. He made 20 saves on 21 Devils shots for a .952 save percentage.
Also, a big congratulations to Andy Greene. The Devils’ captain was playing in his 700th NHL contest tonight. Quite a feat for an undrafted player but a well-deserved one.
The Devils kicked off the scoring at 11:02 of the first period when Plano, Texas native Blake Coleman, playing against his hometown team for the first time, scored his first NHL goal unassisted. It came when he stole the puck from John Klingberg just inside the Dallas blue line. He skated in on Lehtonen and went over the shoulder short side to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. The Stars actually had a penalty about to be called on them, but Coleman’s goal negated the delayed penalty.
And that was it for the scoring for nearly two full periods. There was a scrap at 15:12 of the second when Damon Severson fought Curtis McKenzie. But no scoring. Until Adam Henrique took a tripping call against Radek Faksa at 12:09. Dallas went on to the power play and Ales Hemsky converted from Stephen Johns and Devin Shore to tie things up at one.
We seemed to be headed for overtime, but before we got there, Steven Santini was called for cross checking Cody Eakin at 19:06 which would essentially give the Stars a full minute to win it in regulation and, if not, a minute of power play time in the OT period. This happened in the first period as well when Dalton Prout took a holding call at 19:58 of the first, giving Dallas an entire power play on fresh ice in the second period, but the Devils killed that off, obviously.
In overtime, this was not the case. Tyler Seguin scored just 20 seconds into the extra frame with assists to Jamie Benn and Klingberg to give the Stars the 2-1 win. It was a real heartbreaker for the Devils. As I mentioned above, Kinkaid was solid for most of the night but the Devils just had little answer for the Stars’ power play. Dallas ended up going 2-for-4 with the man advantage while the Devils did not have a power play on the night.
Next up for the Devils, a Tuesday night tilt against the Winnipeg Jets. This is the makeup game from March 14 that was canceled due to inclement weather. I will also be attending this game, so my recap will be a little bit late for that game as well.
In Devils prospect news, the Mississauga Steelheads, with prospects Mikey McLeod and Nathan Bastian lost to the Ottawa 67’s in game two of their OHL Eastern Conference playoff series 4-0 to even things up at one game apiece. The teams will meet again in game three on March 28 at Ottawa’s TD Place.