Third Period Marchessault Hat Trick Downs Devils

The Devils were off on a new beginning. Earlier today, general manager Ray Shero announced that the team had fired head coach John Hynes. Chris Ryan of NJ.com was the first to break the story via Twitter and the news came down officially around two or three in the afternoon.

Alain Nasreddine would take over on an interim basis and tonight was his first game behind the bench.

And, although the team showed some improvement in a few areas and had a little bit more jump in their game, the result was, unfortunately, the same as it has been: a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3 at Prudential Center tonight.

The lineup remained the same as last night in Buffalo on the back end of a back-to-back for both teams (Vegas was at the Garden taking on the Rangers last night) with all lines and defensive pairings staying the same. Jack Hughes remained out with a lower body injury and John Hayden and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches.

In goal for the Knights was Malcolm Subban, the younger brother of Devils d-man PK. He is getting some play while Marc-Andre Fleury stays on a leave of absence due to the death of his father. Goalie Subban made 32 saves on 35 Devils shots for a .914 save percentage. The Subbans had faced each other three other times, all while PK was with Nashville.

In goal for the Devils was Mackenzie Blackwood who turned aside 26 of the Golden Knights’ 30 shots for an .867 save percentage.

Vegas had won three straight, including defeating the Rangers last night. They looked to continue that trend early on when Reilly Smith redirected a shot off the post.

The Devils went down a man on the bench at 11:26 of the first when William Carrier hit Matt Tennyson, putting him out of action for the evening. Will Butcher took exception and ended up with a roughing minor while Carrier took two for roughing plus another two for the boarding play on Tennyson.

It was the Devils who would come out of the first period with the lead. Kyle Palmieri scored on a breakaway when he came off the bench, catching the Golden Knights in a change, took a stretch pass from Damon Severson and beat Subban to make it 1-0 Devils at the 16:31 mark of the first. Blake Coleman had the secondary assist. For Palmieri, this was his tenth of the year, making him the first Devil to reach that plateau this season.

Vegas would tie the game 5:24 into the second when Chandler Stephenson, newly acquired last night from the Washington Capitals, scored his first as a Golden Knight. It happened when Butcher was unable to clear the zone and Vegas took over the puck in the Devils’ zone. Alex Tuch centered from the near corner to Stephenson and Stephenson, cutting in, fired it home to make it 1-1. Tomas Nosek had the secondary assist on the goal.

But the Devils would retake the one goal lead as the game headed to the third period. At 14:17 of the second, Jesper Bratt took a pass from Severson at the point. He then fired from the far faceoff circle to beat Subban and give the Devils the 2-1 lead. Pavel Zacha had the secondary assist.

The call on the ice was a good goal for this one, but Vegas coach Gerard Gallant challenged for goalie interference. Taylor Hall had collided with Paul Stastny and fallen into Malcolm Subban. The puck crossed the line as Hall was falling into Subban, but the replay showed that it was coincidental contact with Stastny and Hall did not interfere. The call of good goal stood and the Golden Knights were assessed a delay of game penalty for losing the challenge.

The Devils had the 2-1 lead but then the third period and Jonathan Marchessault happened.

Marchessault scored just 1:05 into the third to tie the game at two. This one came when William Karlsson burst up the right wing and threw the puck at Blackwood with Marchessault cutting to the net. It deflected in off of his skate to give him his first of the night, but not his last. Smith had the secondary assist.

At the 5:04 mark, Marchessault scored to give Vegas their first lead of the night. It came when Deryk Engelland shot from the point and Marchessault tipped it down and in past Blackwood to make it 3-2 Golden Knights. Tuch had the other assist. The two goals came 3:59 apart as the Knights took their first lead.

Marchessault completed the natural hat trick at 9:40 on the power play. Severson had been called for a hook to set this up. Smith and Tuch played give-and-go down low before Tuch dropped it to Marchessault cutting in. Blackwood stopped his initial shot, but Marchessault put his own rebound in to complete his third career NHL hat trick.

On the power play, the Devils were 0-for-2 with four shots. New Jersey also had a pair of shorthanded shots. Vegas was 1-for-3 with eight shots on the power play and as well as a shorthanded shot.

Twenty seconds after Marchessault’s third goal, Nico Hischier would add one of his own to pull the Devils back within one. Palmieri banked the puck up the boards to Hall and Hall gave to Hischier inside the Vegas zone. Nico then wrested one from the far faceoff circle, beating Subban to make it 4-3. This would be our final.

The Devils had a chance as Palmieri was hauled down on a breakaway late in the period, but no penalty was called. They pulled Blackwood with about 1:45 to go in regulation, but could not get it tied.

The Devils won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Knights 23-19. The Golden Knights had three more shots blocked at 16 to 13 and less giveaways at six to the Devils’ ten.

Hall and Coleman led in shots on goal with five each. Hits were led by Hischier, Coleman and Palmieri with three apiece. Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three. Takeaways were led by Hall with two.

Time on ice saw Vatanen lead with a whopping 27:13 (2:08 on the power play and 3:17 on the penalty kill). But remember that Tennyson was injured early in the game and, thus, the Devils were playing down a defenseman. Hall led the forwards with 19:21 (including 2:08 on the power play).

Next up, the Devils get a few days off before they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at home on Friday. We will have coverage for you here as, hopefully, Nasreddine can get his first victory behind the Devils bench then.

Devils Finish Road Trip with W in Vancouver

Sometimes a team just has another team’s number. You can’t always explain it, but it is what it is. Surely the Devils have been on the short end of a lot of those types of situations through the years, but right now it seems to be that way for them against the Vancouver Canucks. They won this afternoon 2-1, hanging on to sweep the season series against the Canucks.

Over their last 11 games against Vancouver, the Devils now have eight regulation wins, a pair of overtime wins and a shootout win. Mackenzie Blackwood remains unbeaten against the Canucks as well.

It was also Hughes Bowl II as Quinn was in the lineup for the Canucks and Jack was playing for the Devils. His parents were in the Rogers Arena, although it was Quinn who came away with a point today (an assist on the only Vancouver goal).

The Devils made some roster changes following the loss in Edmonton on Friday. Of course, Sami Vatanen was injured in that game and now has what the team is calling an upper body injury. He did not play tonight and will be evaluated when the team returns to New Jersey. John Hayden and Jesper Boqvist were the other scratches, as Boqvist was replaced with Kevin Rooney up front.

With Vatanen out, the defensive pairings were shuffled and Matt Tennyson slotted back in to replace Vatanen. Mirco Mueller and Tennyson were paired together as the bottom pairing today.

It was Hockey Fights Cancer night in Vancouver as the Canucks warmed up in their purple specialty jerseys and the ads on the dasher boards were also rendered in purple.

The Devils came into the game 0-for-10 on the power play in their last three games coming into today. That streak continued as the Devils were blanked on their first power play opportunity. But things would change on their second.

At 10:50 of the first period, Jordie Benn cross-checked Miles Wood and was sent off. On the ensuing man advantage, Taylor Hall made a nice pass through a seam to Kyle Palmieri, who made a slick touch pass to Wayne Simmonds at the side of the net. He slammed the puck home to make it 1-0 Devils at 11:48. Palmieri was kind of slow to get up after taking the hit to make the play, but he ended up OK. It was the Devils first goal in four periods (they were shutout in Edmonton, remember) and their first power play goal, as noted, in three games.

It only took 22 seconds for the Devils to double their lead and score the game-winner. This one came about at 12:10 of the first when Damon Severson took a blast of a shot from the point and Jesper Bratt tipped it by Canucks’ goalie Jacob Markstrom. Pavel Zacha had the secondary assist.

The Canucks would cut that lead in half when Brock Boeser scored on the power play 12:40 into the second period. Tennyson was off for holding and Boeser used his speed to create a goal. Boeser took a pass from JT Miller and sped up the right-wing boards, snapping the puck by Blackwood to end the Devils’ goalie’s shutout streak against the Canucks at 90:42 and cut the Devils lead to 2-1. Quinn Hughes had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play with four shots. Vancouver was 1-for-3 with six shots on goal.

The third period featured a strange sequence of plays that led to a controversial non-goal.

It began when Severson had seemingly hooked a Vancouver player and the referees missed it completely, giving the Devils a break. Soon after, Taylor Hall took a hit in the near corner in the Vancouver zone and was called for embellishment. It was a dangerous hit with Hall in a slightly vulnerable position, but he was the only one penalized in what most would agree was a make up call by the officials.

The Devils killed off the Hall penalty and, as he was coming out of the box, he grabbed the puck on a breakaway. Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler kind of dove to get the puck off of Hall’s stick. He then crashed into Markstrom, his own goalie, taking the puck with him, and knocked the puck and the goalie into the net, dislodging it.

The call on the ice was no goal right away. Upon review by the situation room in Toronto, the call on the ice stood as no goal. There was little explanation to either John Hynes (who could not give a definitive answer as to what the call was in his post-game press conference) or the fans. The net was clearly off its moorings when the puck crossed the line, but it was Edler who knocked his own net off. We will hopefully get more of an explanation in the next few days by the NHL.

Vancouver pulled Markstrom with about two minutes to go for the extra attacker, but the Devils held on. After some timely blocks and some nail-biting icings, the game was over. They even buried an empty netter after time had already expired. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the two points for the Devils.

In goal, Blackwood turned aside 30 of the Canucks’ 31 shots for a .968 save percentage. Markstrom was 25-for-27 for a .926 save percentage.

The Devils’ won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs, not bad against a good faceoff team like Vancouver. They were outhit 24-13. The Devils had more blocked shots at 23-15 and the Canucks had eight giveaways to the Devils’ four.

Individually, Hall led in shots on goal with eight. Hits were led by Kevin Rooney, Simmonds, Blake Coleman and Tennyson who had two each. Blocks were led by Miles Wood, Andy Greene and PK Subban who each had three. Nico Hischier led in takeaways with one.

Time on ice was led by Subban with 24:50 (1:01 on the power play and 18 seconds shorthanded). The forwards were led by Hall with 17:56 (2:08 on the power play included).

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Hopefully the site will be up and running again by then and we will see you then.