Happy Halloween everyone! The Devils celebrated the holiday with a matinee against the New York Islanders at Prudential Center and would come away with a hard fought win in a shootout against their rivals from Brooklyn.
As the teams took the ice for warmups, word came down that John Tavares, the Islanders captain, would not suit up for New York. Deb Placey and John MacLean broke the news in the pregame show and said that it was an injury (although it would turn out that he was actually ill, according to the team in the update after the game – the Islanders have had a bug going around their locker room). An update would be provided by the Isles after the game. The Devils would be without Jiri Tlusty (upper body injury).
One guy who would be in the lineup for New Jersey was newcomer Bobby Farnham, who was making his Devils debut this afternoon. He was claimed off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins last week and would have a dream game en route to be named first star of the game.
The Devils jumped on New York early. John Moore scored his first goal as a Devil at 2:51 into the first period off assists from Lee Stempniak and Farnham. The goal was the quickest the Devils have scored to start a game so far this season.
Farnham would take an interference call early in the first, and showed some fire when he came out of the box and immediately began jawing with the Islanders bench. In a neat piece of trivia, Farnham, making his Devils debut on Halloween, had come into the game with 666 professional penalty minutes. Farnham was a ball of energy all afternoon (something that John MacLean of MSG Network was able to see firsthand during warmups when he was down at ice level – he would mention that point during the postgame show).
Ten minutes after taking the interference penalty, Farnham would continue his impact on the game when he fired a pass from Stephen Gionta past Jaroslav Halak for his first NHL career goal. Damon Severson had the secondary assist. The Devils had quickly built a 2-0 lead on one of the league’s top offensive teams and were looking good going into the second until Sergey Kalinin took a holding minor with 13 seconds remaining in the first period. The Isles would go into the second period with a power play and a fresh sheet of ice.
It did not take New York much time to convert, 1:39 into the second, Anders Lee wristed one behind Cory Schneider, who was making his eighth straight start for the Devils. Former Devil Marek Zidlicky had the primary assist and Nick Leddy the secondary as the Islanders cut the Devils lead in half.
The Islanders would eventually pull back in the game in a familiar way to Devils fans: they would score shorthanded. The Devils have been on both ends of shorthanded goals quite a bit in this young season. Frans Nielsen scored at 10:26 after Travis Hamonic had gone off for tripping. The Devils did not score on the time they were up a man and the game was tied at two apiece.
And that was how it would remain for the rest of the game. The third period was particularly unkind to the Devils, as they did not register their first shot until about 19:30 into the frame.
But through it all was Schneider, who again kept the Devils in the game. Cory would end up making 24 saves on the night. Although he did admit that the Nielson shorty was a soft goal that he would like to have back.
Play opened up a little when the teams went to four-on-four in the middle of the third after coincidental roughing minors to Travis Zajac and the Isles’ Casey Cizikas, though nothing came of it, as the game remained tied.
When the final buzzer sounded, New Jersey was headed to overtime again. As usual, the three-on-three play was exciting and no play was more so than when Cory was beaten by a shot with less than a minute left in the extra session and Severson cleared the puck, sweeping it from the goal line and tucking it under Schneider’s body in the crease. That kept it 2-2 and overtime yielded no decision. The Devils were headed to their league-leading third shootout of the season.
It looked like more of the same as Nielsen beat Cory in the first round and Adam Henrique was unable to convert. Kyle Okposo was robbed by Schneider in the second round and Jacob Josefson beat Halak for the Devils. Halak tried to pokecheck Josefson, but he deked around him and buried the puck to tie up the shootout. Cal Clutterbuck missed in the third round and Stempniak rang one off the crossbar in the third round, sending the shootout into extra rounds. Josh Bailey hit the post for the Islanders in the fourth round before Mike Cammalleri emerged the hero for the Devils, scoring and giving New Jersey a 3-2 victory.
After the game, on Cammalleri’s call, the team saluted the crowd at The Rock by raising their sticks to them at center ice.
The Devils have been playing well lately, gaining at least a point in seven of their last eight games. They need to bank some points as they are not out of the woods of a rough stretch of games yet. They have the backend of the home-and-home with the Islanders, traveling to Brooklyn for the first time in the regular season on Tuesday and then the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks come to Newark on Friday.
A daunting task for the Devils, yes, but not something they cannot overcome. They hung in this game with a very good Islanders team and if they can do the same in the next two games, they will be good to go.