While the East Coast was busy digging out of a massive snow storm, the Devils were in Dallas and could not hold off the Stars, losing 4-3, leaving them winless in the last four.
They have gotten two points out of those four games, but this certainly is not the result they wanted. And while they could certainly blame the officials in the first three games and have quite an argument, tonight the Devils made some mental lapses that hurt them on their own.
As mentioned, the East Coast was hit by a massive winter storm that resulted in the Bruins-Panthers game in Boston being postponed. But the Devils were in action down in Texas.
And Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen, both from Plano, Texas who grew up Stars fans were in the lineup tonight for the Devils. For Noesen, who has visited Dallas before when he was with the Anaheim Ducks, it was different than Coleman. Coleman was making his first trip to Dallas to play as an NHLer and had a luxury suite full of friends and family. He and Noesen were put out to start the game along with Travis Zajac by coach John Hynes as an acknowledgement of them playing in their hometown. One other milestone being celebrated today was that Miles Wood was playing in his 100th NHL contest.
The lineup was largely the same as the other night in St. Louis with one exception: the Devils were back to Cory Schneider in goal. And Cory played well tonight, stopping 29 of 33 shots faced. Unfortunately for the Devils, Ben Bishop went for Dallas and stopped 39 of the Devils’ 42 shots and he was magnificent at times.
Dallas were getting Marc Methot and Martin Hanzal back from injuries tonight. The Devils are largely healthy and only had Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson and Drew Stafford as healthy scratches.
Most of the first period was back-and-forth with the goalies making nice stops. The Devils finally broke through with 14 seconds remaining in the first period. Brian Boyle scored on a power play set up when Stephen Johns was called for closing his hand on the puck. The goal occurred when Taylor Hall grabbed the puck and headed up ice with it. He had a three-on-two along with Brian Boyle and Kyle Palmieri. He found a Boyle cutting towards the net and Boyle received the pass, tipping it by Bishop to make it 1-0 Devils. Zajac had the secondary assist.
The Devils had played a very good first period, but the wheels fell off in the second when the Stars scored three unanswered to take the lead. The first one came when Alexander Radulov intercepted an Andy Greene clearing attempt. Greene tried to find a Devil through the middle of the ice in his own zone and Radulov was there to steal it and put it behind Cory to tie the game at one. That goal was unassisted at 6:18.
That was the first mental lapse. The next one came when Sami Vatanen was sent off for cross checking. He served that penalty and the Devils killed it off. But, as he was coming out of the penalty box, he played the puck near him with his feet still in the box. He was immediately called for interference and sent off again at 10:21. Dallas’ Brett Ritchie would score on that power play off assists from John Klingberg and Radulov at 11:07 of the second.
On the night, the Stars power play was 1-for-4 with six shots and the Devils were 2-for-5 with 10 shots. The real kicker was that the Stars also had six shots shorthanded, including one that would find the back of the net later.
The Stars had a 2-1 lead when Tyler Seguin would score his first career shorthanded goal, banking it in off of Miles Wood’s skate at 18:11. Jamie Benn had the lone assist. The Stars were killing off a Greg Pateryn hooking infraction. It was now 3-1 Stars all within the second period. The Devils had made some bad mistakes that came back to hurt them and it showed on the big board.
New Jersey would get one back on the way out of the second period when Hall scored his team leading 14th of the season at 19:32. It came when Nico Hischier, on his 19th birthday, broke the puck free in the neutral zone and got it to Hall. Hall skated it up the wing and shot, the rebound bounced in off of Pateryn’s skate to cut the Dallas lead to 3-2. Andy Greene was credited with the secondary assist. The Devils had gotten two goals late in the first two periods and were only trailing by one moving into the third.
But Dallas would double up the Devils at 9:43 of the third period when Mattias Janmark scored a nice goal from Hanzal and Radulov to make it 4-2. The Devils were behind the eight ball again and it seemed that everytime they moved a little bit forward, they would take a step back.
A scary moment late in the third as Travis Zajac was hit in the face with a Kyle Palmieri wrist shot. It seemed to get him under his visor but Deb Placey on the MSG postgame show did say that he was walking around the locker room with only a shiner on his forehead. She said that it seemed to have missed his eye or nose and that he seemed to be relatively fine.
New Jersey got their second power play goal of the game and made things a bit more interesting at 15:59 of the third. Klingberg was serving a hooking penalty and Jesper Bratt threw the puck into the zone and Hall got it deep. Kyle Palmieri won a battle for it along the near half wall and threw it on net. It got by Bishop to make it 4-3 and it was time to hold on to your hats.
Schneider was pulled with about two minutes remaining in the game and the Devils tried desperately to score. Hall had a nice chance as time was expiring, falling and still getting a shot off. But Bishop made the save on that one, closing the door on a Devils comeback.
Hall led all skaters in ice time with 22:13 while Vatanen led the defensemen with 21:48. Hall also led in shots with a whopping ten. Hits were led by Steven Santini with three and he also led in blocked shots with seven.
Next up, the Devils head to Brooklyn for their first meeting of the season with the Islanders on Sunday. The Isles have also lost four straight and are slipping in the Metropolitan Division, so something there has to give. The Devils remain in second in the Metro with 51 points to the Capitals’ 53.
One other item of note is that former New Jersey governor Brendan Byrne passed away earlier at 93 years old. He was very instrumental in the Devils’ move to the Garden State and was also the man who the Devils’ first home here was named after. Although the Brendan Byrne Arena has gone through many name changes and has since been shuttered, it will still hold a place in Devils fans hearts and Mr. Byrne will also hold a place in the history of the New Jersey Devils. Rest in peace and our thoughts go out to his family in this difficult time.