Henrique With Three Points as Devils Beat Minnesota in OT

Coming off of a hard loss in Winnipeg, the Devils rolled into the “State of Hockey” in a good state. They felt that they worked hard and played well against the Jets, but got a few bad breaks and ended up losing the game. They rebounded tonight with a 4-3 overtime win over the Wild with the game winner coming off the stick of, who else? John Moore.

The Devils, on this road trip, were 1-1-1, including the games in Chicago, Toronto and Winnipeg. They would have some changes coming to the lineup with that lackluster record. Adam Henrique was shifted to a line with Blake Coleman and Brian Gibbons while Pavel Zacha slotted back into the lineup. He had been told by coach John Hynes about what the coaching staff and management wanted to see from him and he would come back in after sitting for four games. He would play the wing tonight. Jimmy Hayes, Stefan Noesen and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches. Noesen slotted out with Zacha back in.

Minnesota had gotten off to a rough start, but have been playing well of late. One of the reasons for that was their goaltender, Devan Dubnyk who had a shutout streak last week that eclipsed 195 minutes. The Devils would not be seeing Zach Parise, who is out long-term after having back surgery. He will likely be out until February. The Wild are also below .500 on the road, but play above .500 at home at the Xcel Energy Center. This was the Devils’ fifth game already this season against Central Division opponents.

The Devils got the scoring started when Adam Henrque buried his fourth at 18:32. When Hynes put him on the fourth line, he was looking to light a fire under Henrique. It would pay off tonight. The goal happened when Gibbons came up the left wing and fired the puck. Henrique redirected it, and it ping-ponged around the Wild crease until Dubnyk ended up putting it in himself after he had seemed to settle it down. Andy Greene had the secondary assist on that goal that made it 1-0 New Jersey. The Devils would take that lead into the first intermission, marking the first time they had done that on this road trip. Minnesota was 2-7-0 this year when allowing the first goal of the game.

In the second period, the Wild would tie things up just 1:32 in when Nino Niederreiter scored on the power play. Steven Santini, who had quite a game, went off for hooking Jason Zucker and the Wild would capitalize. Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu had the assists on that goal.

After Santini took a second penalty, he would also get the Devils back the lead in the second period. It happened when Santini got the puck at the far halfwall and whipped it on net. It beat Dubnyk and the Devils had the 2-1 lead. The goal was unassisted. Santini had a very eventful second period and revealed during a second intermission interview with Deb Placey of MSG that today was his mother-in-law’s birthday. As it is also former Devils player, coach and broadcaster John MacLean as well as yours truly’s birthday, I figured I’d wish her a happy birthday here.

The Devils went into the third period with a 2-1 lead and would pad that lead a little bit at the 7:19 mark of the third. It came off of the stick of Will Butcher and was quite a bit more impressive than his first NHL goal scored in Winnipeg. It came when Henrique gained the Wild blue line with the puck. He dished aside to Butcher, who had joined the rush when a delayed penalty was about to be called on Minnesota. Butcher ripped one high glove side to beat Dubnyk and give the Devils a 3-1 lead. Ben Lovejoy had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils had a chance to nearly go up 4-1, when Kyle Palmieri hit the post with a wide open net midway through the third period. That is also about the time the game began to get more and more chippy. The teams were pushing and shoving after every play it seemed.

Minnesota cut the Devils lead down to one when Mikael Granlund scored his first of two with this one coming on the power play. Miles Wood was serving a holding the stick penalty against Eric Staal and Granlund would score at the 11:14 mark of the third off assists from Jared Spurgeon and Koivu. Overall, the Wild were 2-for-4 on the power play with eight shots while the Devils were 0-for-2 with four shots.

The Devils seemed to have things in hand but that missed opportunity for Palmieri would come back to bite them when Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau pulled Dubnyk with 2:30 remaining in the game. Granlund would tie things up at the 18:24 mark, his second of the game from Ryan Suter and Staal. The Devils were unable to win the defensive zone faceoff and Granlund connected and the game was tied up at three.

Once time ran out, we were headed to OT. The Devils did not want a repeat of last week in Toronto and, in fact would not get it. Just 52 seconds into the three-on-three session, Taylor Hall stickhandled the puck through the Minnesota zone and back out to the neutral zone, delaying so the Devils could get a full change. He gave to Henrique, who had just come on the ice. Henrique skated into the Wild zone, and connected on a beautiful pass to a trailing John Moore. Moore, of course, buried it to give the Devils the 4-3 win. It was Moore’s sixth overtime goal (all with the Devils) and moves him to within two of Scott Niedermayer’s team record for OT goals by a defenseman.

The goalies had a good game for both teams, especially Cory Schneider. Schneider made 33 saves on 36 Wild shots in getting the win. Dubnyk stopped 21 of 25 shots on goal. John Moore was the game’s first star while Mikael Granlund was the second and Will Butcher the third.

Individually for the Devils, Andy Greene continued to be a minutes eater, logging a team high 22:05 tonight. Hall led the way with four shots on goal and, in a rugged game, Santini was the leader in hits with four.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Boston Bruins the night before Thanksgiving. The Devils currently stand in first place in the Metropolitan Division, and the feeling among some is that if you are in a playoff position by Thanksgiving, you usually make the playoffs. Time will tell on that, but in the meantime, we will have Wednesday’s game right here for you.

Devils Return From Six Day Layoff With Shootout Win Over Sens

The Devils had six days in the middle of the season to practice and recharge. In a long season, the six day “non-bye week bye week” is a welcome thing. But the fact that it came so soon in the season with the team on a roll as they had been early on, could be troubling.

But New Jersey used the six days to their full advantage and came back better than ever against the Ottawa Senators last night at Prudential Center. They last saw Ottawa exactly eight days ago, last Thursday, which the Devils won on a John Moore goal in overtime following Nico Hischier’s first two goals of his career.

Some roster news for the Devils saw Kyle Palmieri sitting out with a lower body injury. Deb Placey on the Devils MSG pregame show said that he was seen wearing a boot and did not practice this week with the team. Cory Schneider also missed the game, but for a better reason. Cory’s wife gave birth yesterday afternoon to a baby daughter. Congratulations to the Schneider family on their new addition. Keith Kinkaid would get his second straight start (albeit with six days in between them) with Scott Wedgewood backing him up. Mirco Mueller and Dalton Prout were healthy scratches. Ben Lovejoy and Steven Santini slotted back in on defense.

THe Senators were coming off of a win last night against the Philadelphia Flyers, so this was the back half of a back-to-back for them. Kyle Turris was out with an illness and Bobby Ryan was missing with a broken finger.

Ottawa jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, putting the Devils behind the eight ball early on. Mike Hoffman scored at 7:58 of the first period, off assists from Christopher DiDomenico and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to make it 1-0. Former Devil (many moons ago) Johnny Oduya made it 2-0 when he beat a screened Kinkaid from Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith at 17:14.

The Devils were in a hole early, but started the big dig out with just under two minutes left in the first. That happened when Santini broke Pavel Zacha out of the Devils zone. Zacha then skated the puck through the neutral zone and fed Jimmy Hayes who beat Senators goaltender Mike Condon glove side to make it 2-1 before the end of the period.

From there, New Jersey took over the scoresheet. At 9:50 of the second period, Ottawa took a bench minor for a faceoff violation. That set up a Devils power play where Adam Henrique tied it up at two. It happened when Taylor Hall gave the puck to Jesper Bratt. He settled it down along the half wall and spun around to avoid a Sens defender, dishing to Will Butcher at the point. He fired and his rebound came right out to Henrique, who buried it behind Condon. That goal came at 10:52 of the second period.

The Devils grabbed the lead at the 18:07 mark when Brian Gibbons notched his fourth of the year from Zacha and Jimmy Hayes. It came when Hayes and Zacha worked the puck along the boards at the near half wall. Zacha spun and backhanded a pass to Gibbons, who snapped the puck by Condon to put the Devils ahead 3-2.

But the Devils needed an insurance goal and that would come at the 14:10 mark of the third period when defenseman Damon Severson found twine for the first time this year from Hall. This came when Hall made a great one-man effort to work the puck out of the corner, stickhandle it to the point, switch sides with Severson, slide the puck to Severson at the opposite point, only for Severson to fire, beating Condon cleanly for the 4-2 lead.

That should have been it, but Ottawa is a tough out. Coach Guy Boucher pulled Condon twice late in the third, getting the extra attacker on, which resulted first in a goal from Mark Stone (assists to Hoffman and Dion Phaneuf) at 18:45 to make it 4-3 New Jersey. Once the Sens took control of the puck off of the ensuing faceoff, the Senators would pull Condon again with DiDomenico scoring this time to tie things up at 19:23. With that blown lead, the Devils would run out the remaining time and take it to OT again against the Senators.

There were no heroics here, as the teams came close, but did not score in the extra session, taking us to a shootout. And that is where things got really crucial. The Devils shot first, with Condon making a save on Hall. Kinkaid then stopped DiDomenico while Nico Hischier missed on his try. Ottawa’s Tom Pyatt beat Kinkaid to make Drew Stafford’s try a must-score situation. He would convert to tie things up. Erik Karlsson missed for Ottawa and it was up to Jesper Bratt, who deked Condon out of his pads and cooly skated the puck around him to put the Devils up. The contnuation of the shootout was on Hoffman, who had gotten the scoring started for the Sens, but Kinkaid stopped him to give the Devils the 5-4 win.

With that, the Devils improve to 7-2-0. The Devils were able to improve in an area that had been hurting them: they only took two minor penalties on the night, keeping Ottawa 0-for-2 on the power play. The Devils themselves were 1-for-3.

In net, Kinkaid made 23 stops on 27 Senators shots, including one save on one power play shot. Princeton University product Mike Condon made 21 saves on 25 Devils shots, the Devils had five of those shots on the man advantage.

John Moore led the Devils in ice time with 25:34 while Hischier, Henrique, Blake Coleman and Santini all tied for the shots lead with three each.

On a side note, congratulations to the Prudential Center, which opened ten years ago to the day on October 27, 2007 with a game between the Devils and these Ottawa Senators. Two men in this game also played in that, Devils’ captain Andy Greene and the Sens’ Johnny Oduya (who was with New Jersey back then). Patrik Elias assisted on Brian Gionta’s goal (the first Devils goal in the history of the building) that night and was in attendance tonight. When shown on the big board, the crowd gave him a lengthly standing ovation, as is deserving of the legend who will have his number retired this February.

The Devils finish their back-to-back with a game later tonight at home against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have struggled this early part of the season, we will see how the Devils do against them.