Devils Push Stars to Limit, Fall in OT

It was a celebration of the past at Prudential Center tonight as the Devils honored the 20th anniversary of the first Stanley Cup champions of the new millennium. However, the current iteration of the team was able to push the Dallas Stars to overtime, only to fall victim to a heartbreaker. They lost 3-2.

The night started off with the aforementioned ceremony honoring the 2000 Stanley Cup champs. It featured each member of the support staff, coaching staff, former general manager Lou Lamoriello, and each of the players attending the reunion. Of course, the biggest ovations from the fans came for the likes of Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Patrik Elias. In a great moment, the Stanley Cup itself was brought out and skated around the rink by Petr Sykora. If you will remember, Sykora was injured in game six of the Cup Final and never actually got to hoist the Cup on the ice in Dallas. Elias wore his jersey that night in a symbolic tribute, but this really was the perfect “full circle moment.” To see Sykora in skates getting to finally skate the Cup was a thing that was really well-done by the Devils.

From there, it was on to the 2020 team and a game against the 2020 Dallas Stars.

Despite its disappointing outcome, this one was a pretty good one from start to finish. As far as roster changes, Mirco Mueller was replaced by Connor Carrick on the blue line in the only move.

The goaltending matchup saw Louis Domingue get his first start since the bye week/All-Star break. He stopped 28 of the 31 shots Dallas peppered him with for a .903 save percentage on the night. The Stars opposed him with Ben Bishop, who turned aside 29 of the 31 shots the Devils threw at him for a .935 save percentage. Yes, both teams finished with the exact number of shots on goal, as they were even at nine in the first, the Stars edged the Devils in the second, 11-8 and the Devils edged Dallas in the third, 13-8. In OT, the Stars had three shots to the Devils’ one.

On special teams, the Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot that they scored on, as we will get to. Dallas was 0-for-2 on the man advantage with two shots on goal. They did not have a shorthanded shot.

That shorty of the Devils’ came 13:09 into the game when Kevin Rooney scored. PK Subban had gone off for interfering with Tyler Seguin to set up the Dallas power play, but once again, it was Blake Coleman that set up this shorthanded goal for the Devils. Coleman got the puck in deep into the Dallas end and poked it towards net. It rebounded off of a Stars defender and came right to Rooney in the high slot. He ripped a slap shot that beat Bishop to make it 1-0 Devils. Although the goal was officially unassisted, it was the Plano, Texas-native who created this goal all the way.

That was it for the scoring in the first. In the second, Jason Dickinson tied things up at the 18:42 mark when Corey Perry centered a pass from behind the Devils net and Dickinson buried the chance. Stephen Johns had the secondary assist.

As we headed into the third period tied at one apiece, things were getting tight. But it would only take Dallas 5:04 into the third frame to take their first lead of the evening. It came when Jamie Oleksiak stole the puck in the neutral zone and was off with numbers. He gave to Joel Kiviranta, who shot. Domingue stopped that, but the rebound came back to Kiviranta and he made sure to bury the second chance. It gave Dallas the 2-1 lead.

However, the Devils would get that one back late. At the 11:53 mark of the third, Damon Severson took a pass at the Stars’ blue line and passed down to Jesper Bratt at the near half wall. He then passed to Nico Hischier, who had switched with Severson at the point. Nico fired and beat Bishop cleanly to tie the game back up at two.

And that was where it remained when regulation could not settle things.

In overtime, it only took Dallas 1:39 to end things. Esa Lindell gained control of the puck in the Dallas end and broke Mattias Janmark out. He skated the puck into the Devils zone and took a shot on Domingue. Domingue could not handle the rebound and a trailing Joe Pavelski put it home to give the Stars the 3-2 victory in OT.

Domingue would be named the game’s third star while Hischier was the second and Pavelski, with the game-winner in OT, was the first.

The Devils won only a paltry 40-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Coleman leading the centers with a personal 67-percent faceoff average. The Devils outhit the Stars, 19-10 and had more blocked shots at 12-9, but also turned over 12 pucks to the Stars’ three turnovers.

Severson led the Devils’ skaters with 24:06 of ice time (including 2:24 on the power play and 3:06 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led the forwards with 18:41 (including 11 seconds on the power play and 2:32 on the PK).

Shots on goal were led by Jack Hughes with four individually. Hits were led by John Hayden and Rooney with three each. Blocks were led by Carrick with three and takeaways by Coleman with one.

Next up, the Devils remain at home to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. We will have that for you right here then. Until then, enjoy the Super Bowl everyone and go Niners!

Bishop Gets Ninth Straight Win Over Devils

Ben Bishop has owned the Devils over the last several seasons. The Dallas Stars goaltender won his ninth straight against the Devils tonight as the Stars scored both of their goals within the first 11:50 of the first period to win 2-0 in Dallas. New Jersey is now winless in their last six.

First, some roster news. The Devils placed Nico Hischier (illness) on injured reserve retroactive to December 5. Michael McLeod was recalled from Binghamton but did not play. John Hayden and Colton White were the other healthy scratches.

Dallas was in a bit of a state of upheaval coming into tonight. They fired head coach Jim Montgomery earlier this morning for what management is calling “unprofessional conduct” off of the ice. No word on what exactly that is all about (if it ever really gets out), but the NHL has put teams “on notice” when it comes to things like the Bills Peters incident. Montgomery – who had coached Will Butcher and the University of Denver Pioneers to an NCAA national championship – was replaced behind the bench by veteran coach Rick Bowness.

Blake Coleman, the Plano, Texas native, was on the ice to start the game with Travis Zajac and Nikita Gusev. Unfortunately, that feel-good moment for Coleman’s 100 or so friends and family in attendance was about it for the Devils in the first period.

The first goal of the night (and what would go on as the game-winner) was scored just 1:42 into the game. It came when Andrew Cogliano passed from the near corner behind the net to Radek Faksa, who tried a wraparound and jammed it by Devils’ goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. Blake Comeau had the secondary assist on the goal.

Joe Pavelski added some insurance at 11:50 when the Devils were unable to clear their zone and the Stars grabbed the puck. Following a nifty backhand pass to Alexander Radulov, he shot on net and Roope Hintz jammed at it along with Pavelski on a goalmouth scramble. The puck went in and the Stars had the 2-0 lead.

Dallas outshot the Devils 16-2 in the first period and there is some history there. According to MSG Network’s Steve Cangialosi, that was the same shot disparity the last time these two teams met at American Airlines Center. That game came on January 2, 2019 and saw the Stars outshoot New Jersey 16-2 in the first period of that game. The Devils came back to outshoot the Stars 16-7 in the third period, after being outshot 12-8 in the second.

Those two goals were all Dallas needed as aside from Denis Gurianov hitting the crossbar early in the second, Blackwood shut the door and played very well.

He ended the night with 33 saves on 35 shots for a .943 save percentage and was the game’s third star in an opposing building. For Dallas, Bishop stopped all 26 Devils shots to record the Stars’ first shutout of the season. He was named the game’s first star of the night. Faksa was the second.

Blackwood was pulled with about 2:40 remaining in regulation, but a Sami Vatanen tripping penalty – to save a sure empty net goal by Cogliano – ended up putting Dallas on the power play to end the game and negate the extra attacker for the Devils.

On the power play, the Stars were 0-for-5 as the Devils played a very good PK game. Blackwood stopped all five Dallas power play shots. The Devils were 0-for-3 with seven shots. New Jersey also peppered Bishop with six shorthanded shots.

One penalty that was not called was a very late high-stick on Coleman that drew blood. The stick came up very close to Coleman’s eye, but neither a two minute nor four minute penalty was assessed on the play. The play came while the Devils were killing off the Vatanen penalty late in the third.

Overall, the Devils won a paltry 33-percent of the game’s faceoffs. They outhit Dallas 26-20, had more blocked shots at 28-8 and more giveaways at 14 to the Stars’ 11.

Time on ice leader was Damon Severson with 24:37 total (including 16 seconds on the power play and 5:26 on the penalty kill). The forwards were led by Pavel Zacha, who logged 16:52 (including 2:53 on the PP and 2:45 shorthanded).

Stats-wise, shots were led by Coleman and PK Subban with four each. Hits were led by Subban (who had a rough game otherwise – not able to stay out of the penalty box) with five. Blocks were led by Andy Greene with seven and takeaways by Severson with two.

Next up, the Devils will go to Denver to take on the Avalanche on Friday. This is another game against a very good Western Conference team. Puck drop for that game is 9 PM ET and we will have a recap for you right here later that evening.