The score was the same as the last game for the Devils: 2-1. The only difference is the victors (this time the Devils) and the circumstances (in a shootout) as well as the obvious, the opponent (the Anaheim Ducks instead of the Winnipeg Jets).
The Ducks were the final visitors on this four-game homestand for New Jersey. It was a series of games that saw the Devils welcome four Western Conference teams to Newark. New Jersey ended the week going 3-1 against those Western teams (including an overtime win over St. Louis, a blowout win over Colorado, a narrow loss to Winnipeg and, now, a shootout win over Anaheim).
First, some milestone news. Devils coach Lindy Ruff tonight passed the great Al Arbour on the NHL’s all-time games coached list with his 1,608th appearance behind and NHL bench. That now puts him the top five in that category. He has a ways to go to catch the next on the list (former longtime Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice – who coached 1,684 games). Congratulations to coach Ruff!
Additionally, Nathan Bastian was playing in his 100th NHL game tonight. Of those games, 88 have been played with the Devils while 12 were appearances with the Seattle Kraken earlier this season before he was reclaimed by the Devils off of waivers.
The Devils went with the exact same lineup as the last few games. This included sitting Colton White and Christian Jaros and Nico Hischier sitting out with an injury. The team also went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen dressed with Mason Geertsen again slotted in on defense.
One of the night’s stars (the second one come the end of the night, actually) was goaltender Nico Daws, making his seventh consecutive start for the Devils.
Daws stopped 33 of the Ducks’ 34 total shots (including regulation and overtime) for a .971 save percentage. Although they do not count officially, he also stopped both Anaheim attempts during the shootout. He stopped all five power play shots the Ducks mustered and was 28-for-29 at even strength.
Anaheim, who went 0-for-2 as a team on the power play for the night, had the best NHL power play percentage on the road in the league coming into this game working with a 25.4-percent clip while away from the Honda Center.
The Ducks went with backup and Edison, New Jersey-native Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz (who was named the third start of the night) made 38 saves on 40 total Devils shots accumulated during regulation and OT. His save percentage was .975 for the night. Included in those saves was all four Devils shorthanded goals and their lone power play shot – New Jersey went 0-for-3 on the man advantage as a team. At even strength, he turned aside 34 of 35 Devils shots.
The Devils celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little bit early as they wore yet another set of warmup jerseys – this time green with a shamrock patch on the left shoulder – to mark the holiday.
For the game itself, the Devils were in their black third uniforms.
In addition, this was the first time these teams were facing on Prudential Center ice for the first time since November 2019. They faced each other in California back this past November with Anaheim taking the 4-0 win.
Friends and former teammates Jack Hughes and Trevor Zegras did not get to face each other in that meeting, as Hughes was out with his separated shoulder.
The game started with former Devil Adam Henrique coming out like he was shot out of a cannon.
He was stopped early on a 2-on-1 when he cut in after taking a pass from Troy Terry. Then, at about the halfway point of the period, Henrique hit the crossbar immediately following a marvelous Hughes chance at the other end.
Terry finally broke the game open by finding the back of the net at 11:02 gone in the first period. Terry took a pass from Max Comtois and shot from just inside the Devils blue line, roofing a well-placed shot over Daws’ stick side. It was only the Ducks’ third shot of the game while the Devils had amassed ten by that point in the game. Josh Manson had the secondary helper and the Ducks had the 1-0 early lead.
Terry’s goal came just after Damon Severson had hit the post in the Anaheim end immediately before.
And the Devils still had plenty of time to get back into things.
That equalizer came relatively quickly too.
Just 2:39 into the second period, Jesper Boqvist stole the puck just inside of his own zone, just completely pickpocketing the Ducks players.
Boqvist then skated the puck through the neutral zone, gained the Anaheim blue line and saw Tomas Tatar cutting ahead towards Stolarz’s net. Boqvist hit Tatar with a perfect pass as Tatar got in behind Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Tatar finished the play and beat Stolarz to even the game out at 1-1.
And that was how it remained for the rest of regulation. Daws and Stolarz played great against each other, trading big saves back and forth.
Add to that Henrique hitting the post again late in the third period and things seemed destined to remain knotted.
The only scary issue for the Devils was when, with 8:41 remaining in the third, Ryan Graves blocked a shot on the inside of his leg and needed to be helped off the ice and to the locker room.
And with the goalies playing amazing hockey against one another, the game was off to OT once the final buzzer went off.
The Devils were playing their second OT game of this homestand – following last Sunday’s Dougie Hamilton win over the Blues.
The Ducks began the extra period with the better chances with Daws coming up big.
Once the momentum shifted, things seemed to be playing out in the Devils favor.
With a little more than a minute to go in OT, Jack Hughes cut in on a partial breakaway scoring opportunity on Stolarz. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler did the only thing he could do after Hughes slipped behind him. He slashed the Devils forward and, in turn, took a penalty that would put New Jersey on the power play to end OT one way or another.
The Devils, however, recovered the puck and got Daws out of his crease for the extra attacker on the delayed penalty. They finally got things set and played another few seconds of extended 4-on-3 time during the delayed call.
Once Anaheim touched the puck and the whistle blew, the Devils had less time on the actually power play, but had gotten some bonus time with the extra man while the Ducks unit tired out.
The power play began and the Devils applied pressure, but after a late faceoff in the Ducks defensive zone was lost by the usually faceoff reliable Michael McLeod, Anaheim cleared and time ran down leading us to a shootout.
Round one of the shootout saw the Devils take the top half and Tatar shoot first. He skated in and slowed down, deked Stolarz down, went to his backhand and roofed a shot above Stolarz to convert for New Jersey.
Tatar – who scored the equalizer in regulation and then the game-winning goal in the shootout – was named the game’s first star.
Zegras finished round one for Anaheim, making his first NHL shootout attempt. He was stopped by Daws.
Round two began with Jesper Bratt getting the nod for the Devils. Bratt came in with a nice move on Stolarz, eventually depositing the shot around Stolarz’s right skate.
Terry rounded things off for the Ducks. He has been hot all season as he even notched his 29th goal of the season tonight. Daws stopped him with a right leg pad save and the Devils had the win.
For Daws, this was his first NHL shootout win in his first NHL shootout appearance.
The Devils finished their homestand 3-1 which hopefully should set a tone for next week’s big road trip to Western Canada.
Stats-wise, the Devils outshot the Ducks 40 to 34. The Devils won 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs as a team. Individually, Boqvist won 56-percent of his faceoffs to lead the Devils’ regular faceoff takers.
The Ducks racked up six penalty minutes as a team while the Devils only had four. In hits, the Devils edged the Ducks 17 to 16. Blocked shots saw Anaheim lead with 16 while the Devils had 14. Team giveaways had the Ducks with only eight while the Devils finished with 16, doubling them up.
Ice time had Severson again leading all Devils skaters with 25:14 of total TOI. This included 3:46 on the power play and 3:32 on the penalty kill – both tops among the defensemen on special teams.
Of the forwards, Hughes led in total ice time with 23:02 (including 3:25 on the power play – tops in that category for the front end). McLeod led the forwards in shorthanded time with 2:26 out of his total 11:28. He also got 14 seconds on the power play.
Hughes also led in shots on goal with six. Jonas Siegenthaler led the Devils with four hits. Blocks were led by Hamilton and Severson, who each logged three. Personal giveaways saw Hughes lead by a wide margin with seven while personal takeaways were led by Pavel Zacha, who had two.
Next up, the Devils set off on a big western road trip. It’s off to British Columbia first to take on the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday at 10 PM. That game will be shown on MSG+ and MSG+2.
We will have coverage for you right here as the Devils set off to Western Canada for a series of three games. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend as well as the beginning of the week!