Devils Earn Shutout Victory Over Ducks

The Devils rolled into Anaheim looking to extend their five-game point streak. They succeeded with a 3-0 shutout win over the Ducks. The shutout was goaltender Cory Schneider’s first such clean sheet since February 21, 2019 versus Ottawa.

March kicked off the final full month of the 2019-20 season and the Devils got it off on the right foot. Jesper Boqvist joined the team in Southern California today as he was recalled from Binghamton yesterday but did not play tonight due to the travel involved and because all of the forwards for the team were healthy. Josh Jacobs did play tonight, making his season debut for the Devils and playing in his second-ever NHL game. He wore number 40 and skated on the third defensive pairing with Connor Carrick.

Jacobs slotted in for Fredrik Claesson, who was “a bit banged up” according to Erika Wachter on the MSG pregame show. Will Butcher also remained out and did not make the trip west with the team.

In net, Schneider, as mentioned, earned his first shutout of the year, being equal to all 34 shots the Ducks threw his way. Facing him was John Gibson who made 31 saves on 34 Devils shots for a nightly save percentage of .912. Gibson also took a penalty, an interference penalty against Kevin Rooney on a weird play at the very end of the second period.

The Devils earned a goal in each period. In the first, Pavel Zacha, who would go on to be named the second star of the game, notched his first of two on the power play. It was set up when Anaheim’s Sonny Milano, recently acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets, was called for tripping Miles Wood. At 17:08, Zacha scored when PK Subban sprung Jesper Bratt and Bratt skated up ice. He fed Zacha, who was cutting backdoor, with a nice backhanded pass. That made it 1-0 Devils.

Zacha struck on the power play in the second period when the Ducks’ Carter Rowney was caught for a hold on Nico Hischier at 3:11 to give the Devils another advantage. On this one, Zacha and Bratt again combined when Bratt grabbed the puck, beat an Anaheim defender, stopped and passed cross-ice to Zacha who was camped out at the far faceoff circle. He scored to make it 2-0 Devils. Nikita Gusev kept his point streak alive, moving it to six, with the secondary assist. Bratt also made it eight points in seven games with the two assists. As MSG’s Ken Daneyko pointed out, this goal was made possible by Bratt’s amazing edge work allowing him to get through the defense and stop on a dime to pass to Zacha.

Anaheim nearly got the goal back when Cory had to stop Ryan Getzlaf on a breakaway soon after.

Zacha would be injured in the third period and left the game. He did not return and we should find out more about him in the coming days.

On special teams, the Devils were 2-for-3 on the power play for the night, scoring on both shots they took. They also had a shorthanded shot. The Ducks were 0-for-2 with four shots on the power play and had a single shorthanded shot as well.

The third period saw Cory make a few nice saves on a mad scramble in front of his net midway through. He had some help from the Devils’ defenders around him as well as it was just a nice all-around defensive sequence by the Devils.

Minutes after the Devils killed off two penalties (the Ducks had a 5-on-3 for two seconds), Nico Hischier broke his nine-game goalless drought when the Devils won a faceoff back to Connor Carrick at the point. Carrick shot and Nico batted down the shot into the Ducks’ net at 13:56 gone by in the third to make it 3-0. The goal was briefly reviewed in the Situation Room in Toronto to look for a high-stick, but Nico’s was below the crossbar when he batted the puck down and the goal stood.

And that was it. Both teams had 34 total shots on goal. The Devils won 49-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Travis Zajac winning an astonishing 72-percent of his to lead all Devils’ centers. The Devils edged the Ducks in hits with 27 to Anaheim’s 26. New Jersey also had more blocks at 21 to Anaheim’s 16. The Devils finished with less turnovers at nine to 12 giveaways.

Individually, Jacobs had a penalty (a high-sticking penalty at 9:53 of the third), two shots on goal, a hit and two blocked shots in 17:12 (including 41 seconds on the penalty kill) in his season debut.

Mirco Mueller had 21:36 to lead everyone in ice time (just beating his defensive partner by about 13 seconds in that department). He played 20 seconds on the power play and 2:43 on the penalty kill. Zajac led the forwards with 17:16 (including 1:06 logged on the power play and 2:11 on the penalty kill).

Zacha (named the second star of the game – Dakota Mermis was the third and Cory Schneider the first) and Bratt led the team in points with two each – two goals for Zacha, two helpers for Bratt.

Zacha also led in shots on goal with five, Subban in blocks with three, Mermis and Kevin Rooney in hits with five each and Zajac, Zacha and Jack Hughes in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils will be in Las Vegas on Tuesday to take on the Golden Knights. Puck drop for this one is 10 PM ET. This will begin a series of games the Devils will be playing against playoff contenders or teams currently in a playoff position. We will, of course, have coverage for you right here.

Devils Defeat Ducks at The Rock

The Devils earned their second straight win and their first at Prudential Center since November 23 when they turned aside the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on home ice tonight.

First, some more information on the Taylor Hall trade that I did not get to in the dedicated post. According to Chris Johnson on Twitter, the Devils will retain 50-percent of Hall’s 2019-20 salary (about $3 million) which helped the Coyotes, who are up against the salary cap, take on Hall’s contract. Secondly, the first-round pick the Devils received for the 2020 Draft is a top-three protected pick, meaning should Arizona fall apart, miss the playoffs and win the Draft Lottery, the Devils would take on their first-round pick in 2021 instead.

Tonight was the Devils’ first game without Taylor Hall and they came to prove a point, showing the games in Colorado and Arizona (only one of which they won, both of which they played well in) were no fluke.

First up, a roster move to get to. Goaltender Gilles Senn was called up from AHL Binghamton to back up starter Mackenzie Blackwood tonight. Evan Cormier was recalled from ECHL Adirondack for the Arizona game due to logistics, largely. Adirondack was playing against the Allen Americans in Texas over the weekend and it was easier to get him to Arizona than a goalie playing in Binghamton in the Northeast.

Blackwood made 26 saves on 27 Anaheim shots for a .963 save percentage. For the Ducks, Ryan Miller stopped 17-of-20 for an .850 save percentage.

Other than that goaltending move, though, the roster remained the same for New Jersey. Connor Carrick, John Hayden and Kevin Rooney were the healthy scratches.

The Devils wore special Jersey City Police hats during the warmup to honor fallen Jersey City Police force detective Joseph Seals. Seals was slain during the Jersey City shootings last week. The Devils wore special stickers on the backs of their helmets during the game to honor all of the shooting victims.

It was a game of old friends scoring against each other, as we shall see.

Adam Henrique got the Ducks on the board first when he scored just 3:33 into the game. The goal came on Anaheim’s first shot of the game. The Devils turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Cam Fowler and that sprung Ondrej Kase and Henrique on a 2-on-0. Henrique scored to make it 1-0 Ducks and the game seemed to be following the script the Devils had laid out all season so far.

Then, in the second period, the Devils came alive. It began just 1:28 into the frame when Nico Hischier tied things up. Andy Greene dumped the puck into the zone hard around the boards. Michael Del Zotto could not handle the puck off the hard around and turned it over to Jesper Bratt, who dropped to a trailing Hischier. He potted it behind Miller to tie the game at one. Bratt had the lone assist on Nico’s sixth of the season.

About ten minutes later, at the 11:29 mark, former Duck Kyle Palmieri would give the Devils the lead on the power play. At 9:42, Del Zotto was called for interference against Bratt and the Devils were on the man advantage. The goal came when Nikita Gusev got the puck to Palmieri and he shot coming up the right wing, from the faceoff dot on the far side. The shot went upstairs, over Miller’s stick side and gave the Devils the 2-1 lead. The goal was Palmieri’s team-leading 13th of the year and Will Butcher had the secondary assist.

On the power play, the Devils finished the night 1-for-4 with three shots. The Ducks were held 0-for-2 with a pair of shots. They also had a shorthanded shot as well.

The Devils grabbed the first multi-goal lead of the game when, one minute into the third period, former Duck Sami Vatanen (the man traded to the Devils for Henrique) scored. It came when Jack Hughes worked hard along the boards deep in the Anaheim zone to win the puck and get it to Vatanen at the point. He fired and it seemed to be tipped in front, but was ultimately credited to Vatanen to give the Devils the 3-1 lead. Hughes had the lone assist on Vatanen’s fifth of the year.

From here, the Devils went into protection mode. Greene swatted away a sure Anaheim goal that had gotten in behind Blackwood, clearing the crease in the early part of the third.

Immediately following that play, going back up ice, Damon Severson got into it with Max Comtois and they fought, each drawing fighting majors at 2:24 of the third.

The Ducks pulled Miller with 4:03 to go in regulation for a 6-on-4 man advantage after Hischier took a tripping penalty at the 15:57 mark. A risky situation for Anaheim since the Devils could shoot on the empty net with impunity – icing was negated because the Devils were on the penalty kill. The Devils killed the penalty but did not score.

Anaheim kept Miller on the bench once the penalty expired for a 6-on-5 advantage. Hischier was closing in on an empty net goal at 18:42 but could not get free of Hampus Lindholm, who eventually was called for a hold on Nico. That put the Devils on the power play to end the game and iced the 3-1 win for New Jersey.

Blackwood was named the game’s third star while Palmieri, with the game-winner was the second and Hischier with a goal and a monster game all around, was the first star of the night.

Statistically, The Devils won a paltry 37-percent of the game’s faceoffs as a team. The Ducks edged the Devils in hits 19-18, the Devils led in blocked shots at 16 to 11 and had more giveaways at nine to Anaheim’s five.

Severson led all Devils’ skaters with 23:25 time on ice (1:39 on the power play/2:28 on the penalty kill) while Blake Coleman ate up the most minutes as a forward with 18:51 (five seconds on the power play and two minutes shorthanded). Coleman and Hughes led in shots on goal with three apiece. Coleman also led in hits with three. Greene led in blocks with four and takeaways were led by Will Butcher with two.

Next up, the resurgent Devils meet another stiff task. The Washington Capitals come into the Prudential Center. The Caps have only lost six games in regulation as of tonight. We will see what the Devils can do without any distractions and if they can test Washington. That game is at 7 PM on Friday, the first half of the eighth set of back-to-backs in eight weeks for the Devils. We will have coverage and see you then.