Busy, Important Day at Worlds

The final day of the round-robin portion of the 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championship saw five games involving Devils’ related players in action. Today would also set the seeding for the quarterfinals to begin Thursday.

First up, we have Finland taking on Germany. Germany won this one 4-2.

The Finns took the lead late in the first when Harri Pesonen scored on the power play at 15:05. Marco Nowak had been called for tripping at 13:54 to put Finland on the man advantage.

But the Finnish lead would not last long. At 17:04 of the first, Marc Michaelis tied the game up when he beat Finnish goalie Kevin Lankinen.

In the second, the Finns took back the lead just 4:07 in when Juhani Tyrvainen scored. Once again though, the Germans would tie it up before the period was out this time off the stick of Dominik Kahun at 13:13. The second period ended the way the first did: tied.

Early in the third, Finland’s Atte Ohtamaa was called for a trip and, just 41 seconds into the power play, Leon Draisaitl made it 3-2 Germany.

Finland would pull Lankinen with less than two minutes to go in regulation but Draisaitl scored into the empty net (his third point of the game) to give us our final of 4-2.

Lankinen stopped 39 of 41 German shots while Philipp Grubauer made 17 saves on just 21 FInnish shots. Kaapo Kakko had four shots on goal and was a minus-2 in 19:23 of ice time over 24 shifts.

Finland finishes with five wins and no overtime wins against two losses with 16 points and 22 goals for and 11 against. They will finish in a top four position in Group A with Canada, Germany and the USA.

Our next game sees Switzerland edged by the Czech Republic 5-4.

The Swiss scored early in the first to take a 1-0 lead. Lukas Frick put one behind Czech goalie Patrik Bartosak just 2:13 into the game. But a Swiss penalty would lead to the game being tied before the first intermission.

Switzerland’s Tristan Scherwey was called for cross-checking just after the Swiss had gotten off of the power play which the Czech killed. Jakub Voracek then scored at 12:21 of the first on the man advantage to make it 1-1.

The Czechs were the ones who got out of the gate fast in the second period. Dominik Simon scored just 38 seconds into the frame to make it 2-1. Michael Frolik made it 3-1 when he scored at the 6:20 mark for the Czechs. He also ended up chasing Swiss goalie Reto Berra, who was pulled in favor of Robert Mayer following that goal.

The Swiss responded just 29 seconds after the goalie change when Scherwey scored to cut the Czech lead to one, 3-2.

At 7:10 of the second, Switzerland’s Christoph Bertschy and Czech Republic’s Filip Hronek took matching roughing minors making it a 4-on-4 situation for the next two minutes. The Czechs would capitalize on the extra space when Dominik Kubalik made it 4-2.

Things would get tight early in the third when, just 1:47 in, Scherwey scored his second of the afternoon to make it 4-3 Czech Republic. The Swiss would tie it at four with less than four minutes to go in the game when Nino Niederreiter scored from Roman Josi and Nico Hischier. However, needing the win, Switzerland would pull Mayer with less than three minutes to go in the game. In a situation similar to yesterday’s Sweden-Latvia game, Jan Rutta scored the eventual game winner into the empty net at 18:33. That made it 5-4, our final.

Bartosak made 36 saves on 40 shots against while Berra and Mayer combined for 21 saves. The Czechs had a total of 26 shots with the empty netter. Hischier had the assist for a point, one shot on net and an even plus/minus in 18:26 spread over 26 shifts.

Switzerland finishes fourth Group B with a record of four wins, three losses and no overtime wins. They accumulated 12 points and scored 27 goals against their opponent’s 14.

Next, we take you back to Group A with an emotional game between the Slovaks and the Danes.

Slovakia’s Ladislav Nagy was playing in his final game for the Slovak national team. The Slovakia captain would go on to play a key role in this game.

After a scoreless first period, it would take the entire part of the second to get a team on the board. Martin Marincin finally broke the 0-0 tie at 19:04 of the second when he scored from Marian Studenic and Nagy.

It was also around this time that the hometown Slovakia crowd began to chant for late Slovak player and former NHLer Pavol Demitra. The chant began at the 38th minute of the game (18 minutes into the second period) for the jersey number he wore: 38. Demitra was one of the players killed in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011 in Russia. It was a very touching gesture for a great Slovakian player.

The Danes would tie the game on a 5-on-3 situation in the third period when Marko Dano was sent off for cross-checking at 6:10 and Andrej Sekera at 6:22. Mikkel Boedker tied the game up at 6:41. That is how it would end at the final buzzer, 1-1 and we were headed for overtime.

When OT settled nothing, it was off to a shootout. Studenic went first and missed. Boedker’s shot was saved by Slovak goalie Dnis Godla to end the first round. In the second, Matus Sukel (Slovakia) was stopped by Sebastian Dahm and Peter Regin (Denmark) was stopped by Godla.

In the third round, Nagy gave Slovakia the lead when he scored and Godla stopped Nicklas Jensen. In the fourth round, Tomas Tatar’s shot was turned aside by Dahm and Frederik Storm’s shot was saved by Godla. The game was then on Michal Kristof’s stick. If he scored, Slovakia would win the game. He converted and Slovakia won 2-1, essentially giving Nagy the game winning goal in his send off game.

Godla made 13 saves on 14 shots (including the shootout) and Dahm stopped 27 of 29 shots – including the shootout. Studenic finished the game with the assist for a point, one shot on net and a plus-1 rating. He did this in 16:45 of ice time over 26 shifts.

The Slovaks finish Group A round-robin play with three wins and an overtime win for 11 points – good for fifth place. They had 28 goals for and 19 scored against them. They will not advance to the quarterfinals.

Now we get to one of the main events of the evening. Canada versus the United States. Despite a great effort by the US, it was the Canadians who won this installment of the rivalry, 3-0.

Canada got a goal from Pierre-Luc Dubois just 1:49 into the first frame, followed by one from Kyle Turris a little less than seven minutes later at 8:02. That made it 2-0 until Jared McCann made it 3-0 at 15:59 of the second. That gave us our final of 3-0.

The Americans had chances but could not solve Matt Murray, who stopped all 28 shots the US threw at him. Cory Schneider turned aside 33 of 36 Canadian shots. Damon Severson was a plus-1 in 20:07 of TOI over 24 shifts as he continues to get elite minutes on the blue line for the Canadians. Jack Hughes did not suit up for Team USA in this game, with the reinforcements arriving from teams eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With that win, the Canadians win Group A with six wins and one loss. They had 18 points and finished with 36 goals for and 11 against. The US finishes in fourth place in Group A with four wins, two losses and an OT win for 14 points. Their goal differential was 27 for and 15 against.

We finish up this tour with Group B action as Sweden lost to the powerhouse Russian team, 7-4.

Gabriel Landeskog scored for the Swedes just 7:32 into the game, giving them a 1-0 lead. Then the second period happened.

Russia got a goal from Artyom Anisimov, then one from Yevgeni Dadonov, one from Alex Ovechkin, one from Kirill Kaprizov, one from Mikhail Grigorenko and one from Evgeni Malkin all in a span of 16:50. The Swedes, however, did respond with Patric Hornqvist taking an unsportsmanlike conduct 10 minute major after the Russian scoring frenzy was over. He would be missed for most of the third period.

Sweden got on the board again 12:02 into the third, putting aside the nightmare of the second period for them. The goal came off the stick of William Nylander to make it 6-2.

But Russia got that one right back, almost literally. It took 55 seconds for Dimitri Orlov to make it 7-2 Russia.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson added another for Sweden to make ti 7-3 and the Swedes seemed to be fighting back when John Klingberg scored on the power play. Ilya Kovalchuk was off for holding at 18:42 and Klingberg’s goal came at 18:49.

But it was too little too late. Russia cruised to the 7-4 victory.

In goal, Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves on 34 shots for Sweden while Andrei Vasilevski made 33 saves on 37 Swedish shots against. Jesper Bratt had two shots on goal and was a minus-1 in 9:35 of ice time over 18 shifts.

Russia now wins Group B with Sweden finishing third. The Swedes have five wins, two losses and no OT wins for 15 points. Their goal differential took a hit with this game, with 41 for and 21 against.

So in Thursday’s quarterfinals, Canada will play Switzerland, the US gets Russia, Finland and Sweden will square off and the Czechs will face the Germans. We will see you back here tomorrow as the Halifax Mooseheads continue their quest for the Memorial Cup against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Sweden, Canada Both Win at Worlds

The IIHF World Championship continued with some exciting action today. Firstly, although it does not pertain to the Devils, congratulations to Great Britain who prevailed over France in overtime to avoid relegation and play in next year’s Worlds. Likewise, congrats to Italy, who also staved off relegation by beating Austria in a shootout. The Italians had not scored a goal through their first few games in the round-robin but were able to persevere and fought back to win this one. Austria will join France in relegation as they try to fight their way back to the World Championship for 2021.

Now onto games that really matter to Devils fans. First Sweden outlasted Latvia 5-4 in Group B.

Elias Pettersson got the Swedes going by scoring on the power play 10:15 into the first period. Oskars Batna had gone off for a hold putting Sweden on the man advantage and Pettersson was able to capitalize.

The Swedes took that 1-0 lead into the second when, at 7:47, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for a slash. Roberts Bukarts scored on the power play for Latvia, leveling the game at one.

Adrian Kempe would put Sweden back on top at 2-1 when he scored an even strength goal at the 13:38 mark of the second period. Before the end of the second, Adam Larsson was called for high-sticking which would put the Latvians on the power play to start the third period.

And Latvia would respond. Bukarts scored unassisted for his second of the afternoon just 1:11 into the third to tie the game up at two.

Just 2:31 later, Latvia took the lead at 3-2 when Janis Jaks notched one. That lead was short-lived however when Sweden’s Anton Lander tied it at the 9:00 mark. This one was back-and-forth and seemed destined for a great finish.

At 10:09 of the third, Patric Hornqvist gave the Swedes back the lead at 4-3 but that would only last about three minutes. Bukarts completed his hat trick at 16:36 of the third to knot the game back up, this time at four.

Latvia would draw a power play when Sweden’s Adrian Kempe was called for delay of game following the fourth Latvian goal. Towards the end of that power play, Latvia pulled goalie Kristers Gudlevskis in favor of Elvis Merzlikins and then they promptly pulled Merzlikins. They needed the win and took the risk but Dennis Rasmusssen scored into the empty net for Sweden giving them the 5-4 lead.

And that was the final. Gudlevskis was put back in net and he finished out the final thirty seconds or so of the game.

The Latvian goaltenders made 30 saves on 35 Swedish shots. Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves on 29 shots against. Jesper Bratt played just 2:44 over three shifts and was an even plus/minus.

Sweden will next take on Russia tomorrow in their round-robin finale.

Five seemed to be today’s magic number as Canada blanked Denmark 5-0 in Group A action in Kosice.

Canada took a 1-0 lead just one minute into the game, scoring when Pierre-Luc Dubois took a nice pass from Jonathan Marchessault as he reversed course behind the Danish net and passed from behind the short side of the net.

Canada added another one at 6:06 when Jared McCann made it 2-0. Marchessault finished off the first period scoring for the Canadians when he tipped a Damon Severson shot by Danish goaltender Patrick Galbraith. The goal was reviewed for a high-stick but was deemed a good goal. This came at 8:23.

In the second period, Canada was put on the power play when Markus Lauridsen of Denmark was called for a high stick. Sam Reinhart scored at 13:53 to make it 4-0 Canada and notch his first of two on the afternoon.

Reinhart scored his second 4:34 into the third period on a goal that was also reviewed for a high stick. It counted as well and Reinhart had his second goal of the game and the Canadians had a 5-0 lead. This would go on to be our final as Canada cruised to victory.

Starting goalie Carter Hart was pulled at the 10:56 mark of the third in favor of Mackenzie Blackwood as Blackwood was given some time in the tournament and Hart was given some time to rest. It was a nice gesture from Canadian coach Alain Vigneault. Blackwood preserved the shut out and the Canadian goalies combined to stop all 24 Danish shots that they saw. Galbraith stopped 29 of 34 Canadian shots for Denmark.

Damon Severson has the assist for the point, three total shots on goal and was a plus-2 in 17:26 of time on ice (23 shifts).

Canada takes on the Americans tomorrow in a biggie of a game to finish off round-robin play for both teams.

So games on tap for tomorrow include: Finland versus Germany, Czech Republic versus Switzerland, Slovakia versus Denmark, Canada versus USA and Sweden versus Russia. See you then!

Four Devils-Related Games at Worlds

Four games took place at the IIHF World Hockey Championship today that were of interest to Devils fans.

In the first game, the USA and Cory Schneider defeated Denmark by a score of 7-1. With this win, the United States moved past Canada into second place in Group A.

Frank Vatrano opened the scoring for the Americans 10:34 into the first period. Alex DeBrincat quickly made it 2-0 when he scored on the power play at 11:03. Julian Jakobsen had been called for delay of game 14 seconds after the first US goal.

Clayton Keller put the US up 3-0 when he scored at 14:24 and Chris Kreider made it 4-0 going into the break when he potted one at 18:49. The Kreider goal was notable because Jack Hughes had the primary assist on the goal. For Hughes, this was his first point of the tournament. This had been a major talking point throughout the tourney as the comparisons (no matter how unfair or non-grounded it may be) between Hughes and Kaapo Kakko were in full force. At least he can get that monkey off of his back.

At the start of the second period, Denmark made a goaltending change, switching out Simon Nielsen for Patrick Galbraith. The team would respond as Nick Olesen scored 4:50 into the second frame to make it 4-1.

But DeBrincat restored the four goal lead by making it 5-1 with his second of the night at 11:55 of the second. Less than two minutes later at 13:17, Dylan Larkin scored to make it 6-1 USA.

Jack Eichel capped off the scoring when he notched one at 11:19 to make it 7-1 USA. DeBrincat had the secondary assist on this goal, giving the young Blackhawks star three points (two goals and an assist) on the evening.

Cory stopped 21 of 22 Danish shots while Galbraith stopped 19 of 26 American shots. Hughes had the assist for a point, two shots on net and a plus-1 plus/minus. He did that in 12:33 of ice time over 16 shifts.

The Americans next take on Germany tomorrow.

In our second game of interest, Canada defeated Germany 8-1 to give the Germans their first loss of the tourney so far.

Germany went on the penalty kill early when Marco Nowak was called for holding just 1:19 into the game. Thomas Chabot took advantage by notching one on the power play for the Canadians. Canada’s Mark Stone then made it 2-0 less than twenty seconds after a Canadian penalty was up when he scored from Damon Severson and Darnell Nurse. It was 2-0 Canada going into the first intermission. Not a bad deficit for the Germans to overcome.

Then they began to let Mark Stone loose.

The Vegas Golden Knight scored 6:02 into the second to make it 3-0 Canada. Germany’s Yasin Ehliz would notch one on the power play at 18:01 to make it 3-1 Canada. Then Stone would complete his hat trick by scoring 48 seconds after the German goal to make it 4-1. Things were starting to get out of hand for Germany.

Just 42 seconds into the third, Germany’s Patrick Hager took a boarding penalty and was assessed a ten minute misconduct to go along with it.

At 3:01, Anthony Mantha made it 5-1 Canada unassisted. He scored again 1:54 later this time with an assist to Kyle Turris to make it 6-1.

Sam Reinhart followed the pair of Mantha goals by making it 7-1 at 5:28 and Anthony Cirelli finished off the Canadian day by scoring shorthanded at 13:10 while Chabot was in the box for hooking.

In nets, Matt Murray made 15 saves on 16 German shots while Niklas Treutle made 41 saves on 49 Canadian shots for Germany.

Damon Severson had the assist for a point, two shots on goal and was a plus-3 in 17:43 of ice time over 23 shifts.

Canada’s next game is Monday against Denmark.

At this point I would like to stop and alert everyone that Italy finally scored a goal! They had been shut out all throughout the first round of Group B play but finally notched one today against Norway. They did, however, still lose the game 7-1.

Speaking of a 7-1 score, that was the final in our next game between Slovakia and Great Britain.

The Slovaks jumped out to a very quick 2-0 lead when Andrej Sekera scored 2:04 into the game and Tomas Tatar scored 21 seconds later. At the 7:43 mark of the first period, Britain’s Colin Shields was called for a trip and Martin Marincin made them pay. He scored at 9:02 to make it 3-0.

The Brits made a goaltending change at the 16:32 mark when Ben Bowns was pulled for Jackson Whistle and they immediately responded. Mike Hammond scored 1:12 after the goalie change to make it 3-1 Slovakia. That was our score as we headed into the first intermission.

The Slovaks would pick up right where they left off in the first period (despite the blip of the British goal). Michal Cajkovsky scored 4:33 in to make it 4-1. Marian Studenic scored from Michal Kristof at 9:09 to make it 5-1. At 15:11, Matus Sukel scored to make it 6-1 and that mercifully ended the period for the Brits.

Both teams were held off the scoresheet for the majority of the third period until there were two minutes remaining and David Bondra hit paydirt for the seventh Slovak goal of the game to give us our final of 7-1.

Bowns and Whistle combined to make 31 saves on 38 Slovak shots against. Denis Godla made 16 stops on 17 British shots in the game. Marian Studenic had the goal for a point and four shots on goal and a plus-1 plus/minus in 16:42 of ice time over 19 shifts.

Slovakia’s next opponent is Denmark on Tuesday, the final day of the round-robin portion of the tournament.

Our final game of the evening saw Sweden edge out Switzerland 4-3.

The Swiss got on the board first when Sven Andrighetto scored 4:09 into the contest. But Sweden would tie things before the first period was out.

At 18:41, Simon Moser took a hooking minor and Alexander Wennberg converted for the Swedes just three seconds into the man advantage. That made it 1-1 going into the first break.

Sweden took the 20-1 lead when William Nylander scored 5:20 into the second. Then, at 6:40, Adam Larsson was called for a delay of game giving the Swiss the power play. But Vincent Praplan was sent off for a hold just 23 seconds into the man advantage to make it a 4-on-4. And this is where Switzerland would strike to tie things at two. Joel Genazzi scored at 7:58 to knot the game.

But the Swedes would retake the lead when Erik Gustafsson scored with about 2:30 remaining in the second period. That made it 3-2 Sweden and that was where we were headed into the second intermission.

In the third, Switzerland’s Gaetan Haas tied things at three on the power play. Sweden’s Anton Lander was called for a cross-check at 8:27 and at 10:27, the puck crossed the line to tie the game at three.

But Sweden had one more effort left in them. One minute and twenty seconds after the Swiss tied things, Oliver Ekman-Larsson gave Sweden the 4-3 lead that they would never relinquish.

In goal, Henrik Lundqvist let in three of the 24 shots he faced while Swiss goalie Reto Berra stopped 25 of 29 Swedish shots against. Nico Hischier had a shot on goal and was a minus-3 plus/minus in 18:54 of time on ice over 22 shifts. Jesper Bratt was back in the Swedish lineup and was an even plus/minus in just 1:09 of ice time (two shifts).

Sweden will now play Latvia on Monday while Switzerland will play Russia tomorrow.

So tomorrow, we will have coverage of Germany versus the USA, France versus Finland and Switzerland versus Russia in addition to the Memorial Cup where the Halifax Mooseheads will be taking on the OHL champion Guelph Storm.

Hall Sets Record; Devils Fall to Florida

It feels kind of safe to say that if you are reading this, you are probably a Devils fan. So I know that I am preaching to the choir when I say that Taylor Hall is a pretty special hockey player.

He continued to prove as such when he scored in his franchise record breaking 16th straight game. He became the tenth player, according to the NHL, in the last 30 years with a point in 23-plus consecutive appearances. Taylor Hall is on another level for the Devils and we are all just coming along for the ride.

However, despite that, the Devils did lose in their only trip to Sunrise to the Florida Panthers, 3-2. There were many positives to take out of that loss and the Devils will need to regroup fast as this was the first half of a back-to-back.

First, a return. Cory Schneider had not played for the big club since January 23 against the Boston Bruins when he injured his groin and hip. He returned tonight to make 26 saves on 29 Florida shots. His former Vancouver running mate, Roberto Luongo opposed him, making 29 saves on 31 Devils shots.

Patrick Maroon made his Devils debut and came up a goal short of a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” Photo: downloaded from BleacherReport.com

Next, a debut. Patrick Maroon made his first appearance in a Devils uniform tonight. He ended the game with two points (assists on both Devils goals), was a plus-1 with three shots on goal, two hits all in 13:16 of total ice time. That included 3:12 on the power play. He also had a fight on his very first shift as a Devil. The fight, against Micheal Haley, came just 1:54 into his Devils career, making it the quickest a Devil has ever gotten into a fight from his debut on the team (stat via MSG Network). The fight ended in a clear draw. He ended the night a goal short of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

It was also Maroon’s first game since February 20, as he had a lower body injury his final few days in Edmonton and then missed the Pittsburgh game due to travel. He played the night on a line centered by Brian Boyle and with Blake Coleman.

Florida got the scoring kicked off at the 6:51 mark of the first period when Aleksander Barkov scored his first of two on the night. The goal came when Barkov was crashing the net. He got hauled down by Nico Hischier in what Cory called “a hockey play” and the puck went in off of Barkov. Devils coach John Hynes challenged for goalie interference, challenging the call on the ice (good goal). Replay showed that Nico and Barkov collided and fell into Cory, meaning that it was not goalie interference. The call on the ice stood, it was a good goal and it was 1-0 Panthers. Evgenii Dadonov and Alexander Petrovic had the assists on the goal.

The Devils finished the period hitting the post twice as Coleman and Boyle each found iron in succession just before the buzzer sounded.

The Devils went on the power play at the 18:56 mark of the first period, when Nick Bjugstad was nabbed for interfering with Andy Greene, meaning that the majority of the power play would come on a fresh sheet of ice in the second. And it would pay off. Hall scored from Maroon and Sami Vatanen just 50 seconds into the second. This goal, which was Hall’s 16th straight game with a point, breaking a record he held jointly with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta (with 15 straight games), came when Hall fired a seeing eye shot from the far half wall. The puck found its way by Luongo to tie it up at one. This was Hall’s 28th goal of the year, also a career high for him.

With that goal coming on the power play, the Devils finished the night 1-for-2 with four shots on goal. The Panthers were 0-for-2 without a shot on goal.

It would remain 1-1 until the third period when things opened up a little bit. At the 8:38 mark, Maxim Mamin scored from Jared McCann and Aaron Ekblad. His shot snuck in between the post and Cory’s glove to make the score 2-1 Florida.

Cory kept the Devils in the game late in the third with a big stop on Dadonov on a breakaway to keep it 2-1.

It would remain that way until 16:26 when Barkov scored his second of the night from Dadonov and Bjugstad. Barkov scored this one by backhanding one top shelf over Schneider’s shoulder. It was now 3-1 Panthers, just like that.

The Devils would pull Cory for the first time with about two or three minutes left in the game to gain the six on five advantage. On that one, Jesper Bratt would end his goal drought (he had not scored one since January 20) with a breakaway goal where he went backhand, glove side by Luongo to make it 3-2. The goal came at 17:53 and Maroon had the lone assist.

New Jersey would pull Schneider again with 1:30 or so left, but were unable to tie the game up. The Panthers had been unable to put the game on ice with an empty netter (Jamie McGinn had a great chance with mere seconds left), but did get the win anyway.

It was a hard fought game, but the Panthers have been playing very well of late and have interjected themselves into the playoff picture. As Steve Cangialosi pointed out, for months it was taken for granted that five Metropolitan Division teams would make the playoffs out of the East. The Panthers are challenging that thought as they surge onto the scene.

Overall, Vatanen led in ice time wiht 23:40 (3:03 of which came on the power play and 56 seconds on the PK), Miles Wood led in shots with five, Boyle led in hits with five, Greene led in blocks with three. Takeaways were also led by Greene with two and the Devils won 42-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils head up to Raleigh tomorrow to take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the second half of a back-to-back. The Hurricanes just got finished beating the Flyers 4-1 in Philadelphia tonight, so they are on a roll. The Devils will try to use this game to put some more distance between themselves and a division rival who is right behind them in the playoff race. We will see you tomorrow night.

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Devils Lose Kinkaid to Injury, Fall to Flyers

The Devils were set to play their fifth straight game against a Metropolitan divisional foe today in Philadelphia with the thought that Keith Kinkaid would make his third straight start. Instead they lost Kinkaid to injury, lost the game 3-1 and lost ground in the division to a resurgent Flyers team.

Kinkaid was penciled in because Cory Schneider had a return of the flu bug that kept him out of action last week. Plus, on Thursday night, he got hit in the back of the head with a stick and needed stitches. All of that led to the Devils calling up Ken Appleby on emergency conditions from AHL Binghamton and Kinkaid getting the start. Kinkaid would play just 12:15 and let in all three Flyer goals before leaving with what the team is calling a lower body injury.

Kinkaid saw seven shots and made just four saves before stretching across his crease to try to nab the third goal. It was there where he seemed to tweak his knee or a groin muscle or something along those lines. Appleby, who has been brought up to backup in the past two seasons, but had yet to see NHL action, came in in relief and played 46:04 stopping all 24 shots he saw. He now has a 1.000 NHL save percentage. That was one silver lining of the afternoon. Because they could only had Appleby and Kinkaid dressed, the Devils utilized an emergency backup goalie who was on their bench by the end of the game. No one on MSG could get a name before the broadcast ended, but he wore number 65 on his jersey.

For the Flyers, Michal Neuvirth was between the pipes, making 28 saves on 29 shots faced. With this victory, he notched his 100th NHL win.

There was one other silver lining for the Devils: special teams. The power play and the penalty kill failed them in their loss to the Flyers last week. Tonight, they kept Philadelphia 0-for-4 on the man advantage limiting them to a total of six shots. Meanwhile, the Devils were 1-for-5 on the power play with four shots on goal.

Roster-wise, the Devils were largely the same as the last two wins, with Blake Coleman, Jimmy Hayes and Steven Santini the healthy scratches and Cory a scratch due to illness.

Philly got on the board early and often. Travis Konecny scored five hole on Kinkaid just 3:29 into the game from Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton. That made it 1-0 Flyers just like that.

At 8:30 of the first period, Valtteri Filppula took a lucky bounce that landed on his stick and fired it home to make it 2-0. Michael Raffl and Radko Gudas had the assists. That would go on to be the game winner.

Ivan Provorov finished the Philadelphia scoring at 12:15 on the goal where Kinkaid got injured. Konecny and Claude Giroux had the assists on that goal which made it 3-0 Flyers.

As would be expected in a Flyers-Devils game, there were some scrums and a fight. Raffl clipped Appleby behind his net and was not called for interference at the 16:28 mark of the first period. John Moore took exception and decided to take matters into his own hands and fought Raffl, with the fight ending in a draw. Appleby would finish up his first (partial) period of NHL action by making a nice glove save just as time expired.

New Jersey would lose Brian Gibbons for the afternoon early in the second period when he blocked a shot and injured his hand. Gibbons is a selfless player who blocks a lot of shots, hopefully this is not long term for him.

The Devils’ lone goal came in the second period on the power play. At 6:41, Laughton was called for high-sticking Travis Zajac. With New Jersey on the man advantage, the goal materialized at 8:12 when the Devils converted extended pressure in the Philly zone. Will Butcher took the puck at the point and quarterbacked it to Jesper Bratt at the top of the far faceoff circle. He fired and beat Neuvirth to make it 3-1. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist on that goal and that was it for the scoring.

The Flyers settled into a good, sound defensive game, limited the Devils’ chances. New Jersey would pull Appleby with about two minutes remaining in the game to try and tie things up, but time just ran out on the Devils. Although Bratt did hit the post with less than two seconds left on the clock.

On the stat sheet, Sami Vatanen led in ice time with 22:12, Brian Boyle had the most shots at four, Boyle, Stefan Noesen and Ben Lovejoy each led in hits with two apiece and Lovejoy had four blocks to lead in that category. The Devils won only 41-percent of the faceoffs against the best faceoff team in the NHL. In addition to their two game winning streak ending, the Devils’ five game streak of outshooting their opponents came to an end today since they were outshot 31-29 by the Flyers.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. They are done with their spurt of games against the Metro Division for now, but will need to start beating teams in their own division if they intend to do anything come playoff time (be it going far in, or even making, the playoffs). For now, they will have to contend with an Atlantic Division team on Monday night.

Devils Fall to Flyers in Battle of Special Teams

The first meeting this year between the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers was a study in quality versus quantity. The Devils may have had more power play opportunities on the evening, but the Flyers showed them that it is all in how you use it that gets you to the promised land. Philly won the game 5-3.

New Jersey had seven power play situations and converted on two of them while Philadelphia had just two power plays and were a perfect two-for-two. On the way, the Devils dropped their sixth straight.

It being the first meeting of the year between these two rivals, it was also the first ever meeting between 2017 first overall draft pick Nico Hischier and second overall pick Nolan Patrick. The head-to-head stats between these two very young stars read Nico with an assist, a shot on goal, an even plus/minus and one giveaway and one takeaway. Patrick had a minus-1 plus/minus, four penalty minutes and three shots on goal. Both have many battles ahead of them and both have room to develop in this rivalry.

The Devils had Drew Stafford back in at forward and scratched Jimmy Hayes, Stefan Noesen and defenseman Steven Santini. Of note for the Flyers, they were missing Shayne Gostisbehere due to illness. Defenseman Mirco Mueller practiced with New Jersey on Friday and should be returning to the lineup soon.

In goal, the Devils were back to Cory Schneider who stopped 20 of the 25 shots he faced, including four on the power play. In goal for Philly was Brian Elliott, who made 26 saves on 29 shots, including only seven shots on the power play – which was indicative of the anemic Devils power play. For Elliott, it was his 17th start in the Flyers’ last 18 games.

The Devils have 20 of their remaining 41 games against Metropolitan Division opponents, so here we go.

The Devils got on the board first when Jesper Bratt notched his 11th at 5:43 of the first period. It came when Hischier chipped the puck into the Flyers’ zone to Taylor Hall. Hall gave back to Nico at the bottom of the near faceoff circle. He found Bratt sneaking in behind the play and Bratt buried it to make it 1-0. Hischier and Hall had the assists.

Speaking of Taylor Hall, congratulations to him as it was announced that his Ontario Hockey League team, the Windsor Spitfires, would be retiring his number 4 on February 25, the day after Patrik Elias gets his number 26 retired here in New Jersey.

The Devils had the lead, but before the end of the first, Sean Couturier scored from Jordan Weal and Andrew MacDonald to tie things up at one. It was Couturier’s first of two goals on the night.

The Flyers had started getting into penalty trouble in the first period, taking three in the first. They took two early in the second and the Devils would finally capitalize on one. Patrick had taken his first of two consecutive high-sticking penalties and Kyle Palmieri made Philly pay. At 1:46, Brian Boyle won the offensive zone faceoff back to Will Butcher. Butcher slid it to Hall along the halfwall, who gave it back to Butcher at the point. Butcher then found Palmieri at the near faceoff dot for the one-timer. Palmieri pulled the trigger and beat Elliott cleanly to make it 2-1 Devils.

From there, the Flyers power play took over. On the game-tying goal, John Moore had been called for hooking, giving Philly the man advantage. Wayne Simmonds redirected a Claude Giroux shot on that one at 11:53. Jakub Voracek had the secondary assist.

The next power play was set up when Brian Gibbons went off for interference right off of a faceoff at 16:58. Couturier notched his second of the game from Giroux and Ivan Provorov at 18:16 to give Philly their first lead of the night, 3-2.

The Flyers’ Travis Konecny was called for slashing at 19:17 of the second period to give New Jersey 1:18 of power play time on fresh ice in the third. The Devils, however, true to form on the night, were not able to convert.

The Flyers actually scored another goal that could almost be considered a power play goal when Konecny scored at 4:28 of the third from Provorov and Couturier on a delayed penalty call against the Devils. He scored on a breakaway where he put his own rebound home to make it 4-2.

Michael Raffl wrapped up the Philadelphia massacre at 12:04 when he scored from Voracek and Valtteri Filppula to make it 5-2.

The Devils added a meaningless power play goal set up when Robert Hagg was called for tripping at 18:51. On the man advantage, John Moore hit the post and the puck bounced to Damon Severson’s stick. He got it along the near halfwall and fed Drew Stafford in the slot. Stafford put it home at 19:15 of the third to make it 5-3. And that would be your final.

Devils stat leaders saw Sami Vatanen rule ice time with 22:22, Miles Wood and Palmieri lead in shots with four apiece, Blake Coleman lead in hits with four and Hall, Boyle, Palmieri, Brian Gibbons, Wood, Marcus Johansson and Moore all tie with one blocked shot. Boyle and Coleman each had two takeaways to lead the team as well. The Devils won 49-percent of their faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils will face the team that sent them into their five day bye period: the Islanders. They will meet on Tuesday at Barclays Center with the Devils still looking for their first-ever win in Brooklyn in the three years the Isles have been there. We will find out then if the Devils can get off their slide and back on the winning track, making up some points in the tight Metro Division race.

Devils Win Thriller Over Ducks in Rico’s Return

Adam Henrique returned to Prudential Center, the site of so many of his personal triumphs, a member of the Anaheim Ducks last night and, despite his best efforts, could not guarantee victory for his new club. The Devils won the game, 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion with a few Devils putting in great efforts.

The Devils got great news today in that Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri would be returning to the lineup from their respective injuries. Marcus Johansson remains the only key player the Devils are missing, as he recovers from a bruised ankle suffered last week against the Rangers. Nick Lappin was sent back down to Binghamton while Jimmy Hayes, Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches for New Jersey. Former Devil Joseph Blandisi, also obtained by the Ducks in the Henrique deal, was a healthy scratch for Anaheim.

In goal, Ryan Miller went for the Ducks, making 29 saves on 33 Devils shots. Cory Schneider was right back on it in his third straight start for the Devils, stopping 21 of 24 Anaheim shots.

Of course, with Adam Henrique’s return to the Prudential Center, came the now-customary video tribute, as any player of any note to a franchise seems to get one when he returns to former stomping grounds now. Henrique got a well deserved standing ovation during the first television timeout when his video was shown. But even before that, at warmups, there was a good grouping of Devils fans at the Ducks’ end, watching him warmup and cheering him the second he stepped on the ice. It was a nice sendoff and a bit of closure for both the man who did so much on and off the ice for the Devils and the fans who loved him.

But after all of that, there was a game to be played. And it was the Ducks who jumped out to the early lead. Ryan Getzlaf scored from Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson to make it 1-0 at just 6:44 into the first period.

A few minutes later, Jakob Silfverberg scored to make it 2-0 at 10:30. He got assists from Andrew Cogliano and Henrique. Henrique had scored his first point against the Devils, but it would not be his last of the night. The Devils were in a deep hole, but it was pretty early and there was still plenty of hockey to be played.

They finally broke through at the 8:11 mark of the second period when Miles Wood made it 2-1. That goal came on the power play, set up when Manson put the puck over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty. The goal developed when Drew Stafford skated the puck into the Ducks’ zone, dishing to Jesper Bratt at the far half wall. He sent the puck back to the far point to Sami Vatanen, who fired with Wood tipping the puck by Miller to cut the Anaheim lead in half. Vatanen also gained his first point against his former team with that assist. The Devils ended the night 1-for-2 on the power play with three shots on goal while the Ducks were 0-for-2 with a lone shot.

Never one to be outdone, though, Adam Henrique would score his first goal against the Devils at 11:21 of the second period to make it 3-1, making a nice power move around the Devils’ d-man and putting it by Cory. Manson had the lone assist on that goal.

But for the Ducks, that goal by Henrique would be their last of the game. The Devils comeback would begin with another Miles Wood goal at 18:16 of the second to make it 3-2. It came when Pavel Zacha skated the puck deep into the Anaheim zone. He dropped off for Wood along the goal line on the far side and Wood skated back to the half wall, firing a shot against the grain that beat Miller to get the Devils back into things. That goal, late in the period, would be a killer for the Ducks. Wood was named the game’s second star.

The game tying goal came just 5:49 into the third period and came right after Bratt was called for tripping at 3:36. Bratt came out of the penalty box and stayed on the ice. Brian Boyle headmanned the puck up to Blake Coleman, who broke in on a 2-on-2 with Bratt. Bratt took a pass from Coleman and ripped one past Miller from the top of the faceoff circle on the far side. The Devils had fought back to tie things, now they would be going for the jugular. Bratt would be named third star of the game at night’s end.

That came courtesy of Stefan Noesen, who found twine at 15:53 to give the Devils the lead. It came when Andy Greene went point-to-point with Boyle. Boyle shot and the puck was knocked down in front by Noesen. Noesen shot and gathered his own rebound off of Miller. Miller was caught way out of position, far out of his crease and it was an easy chip in for Noesen to give the Devils the 4-3 lead.

Noesen would add an empty netter at 19:53 from Boyle as he reigned in first star honors for the night. The final score was 5-3 Devils. What made Noesen’s two goals all the more impressive is that before he even scored the first one, he had blocked a shot that seemed to hurt him inside of the left leg. He would briefly leave the game, but the former Duck would return and help the Devils win the game.

Vatanen would lead the Devils in time on ice against his former mates with 23:25. Shots were led by Taylor Hall with five in his return. Hits were led by Travis Zajac with four and Vatanen also led in blocks with three. The Devils won only 43-percent of their faceoffs on the night. For those wondering, Henrique’s final stat line read a goal and an assist for two points, a minus-1 rating, three shots on goal, one block all in 19:28 of total ice time (including 2:32 on the power play and 43 seconds of PK time).

Next up, Thursday and a big showdown at The Rock against the rival New York Rangers. The Devils currently stand in first place in the Metropolitan Division, just ahead of Washington (due to New Jersey having games in hand – despite the same 43 points) and two up on Columbus (who lost last night to Boston). Can the Devils keep things rolling and beat their rivals to stay atop the division? We will find out Thursday.

Devils Take Over First Place in Metro With Victory in Columbus

The Devils’ next two games, both against the Columbus Blue Jackets, are tests to see just how good of a team they really are and could move them back into first place in the Metropolitan Division as a bonus. Tonight, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, the Devils passed test number one. They came away with the 4-1 victory over a Blue Jackets team that had not lost at home in five tries. They also stand atop the division, leapfrogging the Jackets and the Islanders (who lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight as well).

This game marked only the third Metropolitan Division game the Devils have played this year, with a loss to Washington and a win over the Rangers both coming earlier in the season. The team’s next three games will come against their divisional foes (two against the Jackets – including this one and one against the Rangers) this week.

Devils coach John Hynes held a veterans only meeting yesterday where he said that they would be going into a hostile environment – a loud, enthusiastic crowd for a good team and an amped up atmosphere between two teams battling for first place in the division – and that the veterans needed to keep the rookies and young players grounded for the game. They did just that, showing leadership in getting the win for the Devils.

In addition to all of that, Cory Schneider’s next victory would be his 100th as a New Jersey Devil, so congratulations to him on that milestone, as he notched it tonight. He made 41 saves on 42 shots on net. The Blue Jackets threw out reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky who made 32 saves on 36 Devils shots on net. Taylor Hall mentioned before the game that the Devils would need to pepper Bobrovsky with 30-plus shots in order to get a few past him because he does not give up many. Cory would go on to be named the game’s first star.

Roster news to pass along saw Steven Santini slot back in on defense. Ben Lovejoy was taken out of the lineup while Dalton Prout was a healthy scratch again. Somewhat controversially, Pavel Zacha was a scratch up front. The coaching staff still wanted to see more from him and are trying to give him another perspective on the game.

The Devils kicked off the scoring just 4:24 into the first. Stefan Noesen got stood up in the Columbus zone, taking the hit to give the puck up to Travis Zajac, who kept banging at the puck in front of the Jackets’ goal and knocked it home. Marcus Johansson had the secondary assist on the goal, marking his first point since October 19 (at Ottawa; but remember that he was injured for a good portion of this young season). It was 1-0 Devils. Prior to that goal, Columbus had really been pushing the play and yet the Devils were up early on.

The Blue Jackets would tie things up before the end of the first period when Nick Foligno tipped in a Oliver Bjorkstrand shot to make it 1-1. Seth Jones had the secondary assist on that goal, which came at 13:46 of the first period. The goal was an even strength goal, as a Zajac tripping penalty had just expired. Columbus’ power play is ranked dead last in the NHL and that showed tonight, as they went an amazing 0-for-6 with the man advantage. They did have seven shots on goal, however. New Jersey was 0-for-1 with two shots on goal. The Jackets do not take many penalties (they are the second least penalized team in the NHL) and that was also evident tonight.

The Devils would jump out to a 2-1 lead early in the second period when Taylor Hall dug the puck out of the near corner in the Devils’ zone and headmanned it to Nico Hischier. Hischier streaked through the neutral zone and into the Blue Jackets’ zone. He drew in the Columbus defenseman and gave it back to Hall, who was calling for the puck on the rush. Hall got the puck and buried it to extend the Devils’ lead. This would go on to be the game winning goal and Hischier would be the game’s second star while Hall was named the third star of the game. Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist on this goal.

The Devils would get another one late in the second period when Stefan Noesen scored from Miles Wood and Hischier. Notable on that, was Cory making a good outlet pass to Hischier. Also, Bobrovsky lost his mask on the goal and Columbus coach John Tortorella thought about challenging for goalie interference, but ultimately did not. At the end of two periods, the Devils had a 3-1 lead. That goal came at 19:14. The Devils were 11-0-1 when leading after two periods and that streak would continue after tonight.

They would get one more in the third to ice the game when Bratt scored from Hall to make it 4-1 at 11:06 of the third. The Blue Jackets, in addition to being good at home, are also a good defensive team. Yet the Devils had lit them and a very good goalie up for four goals in their win.

One place, as noted, where the Blue Jackets failed was on the power play. They ended the game with a two man advantage (with Sami Vatanen off for hooking and Brian Gibbons for slashing) for about 39 seconds and were unable to score at all.

Overall, the Travis Zajac led the Devils with five shots on goal, Andy Greene led in time on ice with 24:27 and Santini’s triumph return to the lineup yielded six hits, which led the Devils there. New Jersey won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, the Devils finish up their home-and-home with the Blue Jackets at Prudential Center on Friday. I will be at that game and will get the post up as soon as I can. A win on home ice against Columbus would help keep the Devils in first place in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division, something that would be very much needed going forward.

New Look Devils Top Colorado

Just a day and a few hours after the big trade that sent Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Sami Vatanen, the Devils were in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. They would eke out a 2-1 win in what was a well played game by both teams, albeit one filled with penalties. With this win, the Devils won another one goal game (their tenth of the season so far) and swept the season series with Colorado – after also winning at home on opening day against them.

Vatanen actually got to the team hotel before his new teammates did and was there to greet them. He did play with a few former Ducks-turned-Devils in Ben Lovejoy, Stefan Noesen and Kyle Palmieri (who is injured right now and, thus, not on the trip) prior to the trade, so he did have some comfortability there. Vatanen is, according to his former/current teammates and MSG’s broadcast, a good puck possession defenseman and is very aggressive and physical. He played the night paired up mostly with Andy Greene as the top D pairing for the Devils.

With the new addition came some roster changes for the Devils. Dalton Prout and Steven Santini sat out on defense while Jimmy Hayes was a healthy scratch up front. The Devils were also getting back Marcus Johansson, who last played exactly one month ago when he was concussed in Vancouver. It was good to see Johansson make his return and he had quite an impact, especially early, when he took a penalty and then drew a penalty in almost complete succession.

The Avs were missing Gabriel Landeskog due to his suspension (he is on the second game of a four game ban) because of a cross checking incident on the Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk. Although the Devils would not see him, they would be seeing plenty of Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche forward who was named the first star of the month for November.

The main story of the game was penalties. There was 22 minutes worth of power play time between the two teams. The Devils were 1-for-6 with the extra attacker, with six shots on goal. The Avs were 1-for-5 with three shots on goal.

One other item of note is that Will Butcher, the former Denver University Pioneer who was originally drafted by the Avalanche, but signed with the Devils instead, was not booed. The only thing that I could assume with that was that with the Avs signing Alexander Kerfoot, an original Devils draftee, it was all even in the fans’ minds.

After a scoreless first period, it was Jesper Bratt who got the Devils on the board at the 13:58 mark of the second period. That was his eighth of the year and was unassisted. He got it when Andy Greene stretched a pass into the Colorado zone that eluded a Devil, but was played by Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He left it for Colorado d-man Nikita Zadorov, who tried to pass to Erik Johnson, but had his pocket picked by Bratt. Bratt stole the puck nearly at the goal line and fired into an empty net from the sharp angle. That goal made it 1-0 Devils and showed the really good forechecking that this team now employs, forcing mistakes and capitalizing on them.

The Avs, however, would answer right back. At 17:11, Andy Greene would block a Kerfoot shot only to have the puck fall right on the stick of JT Compher, who beat Cory Schneider to make it 1-1. Tyson Barrie had the secondary assist on that one. That goal came on the power play while Ben Lovejoy was serving two minutes for hooking. The game would remain tied going into the third period.

A scary moment for the Devils early in the third period as Brian Gibbons blocked a shot and left the ice in extreme pain. He would return by period’s end, however.

The game winner would end up coming off of the stick of Brian Boyle (his fourth of the year) at 6:11 of the third. This was also a power play goal, with Colorado’s Mark Barberio in the box for holding Blake Coleman’s stick. It came when Taylor Hall skated the puck through the neutral zone and dished off to Bratt along the near wall. He gave back to Hall, who fired on net. That created a goalmouth scramble with Boyle eventually jamming home the puck to make it 2-1 Devils.

And that is how it would end. The Avs would pull Varlamov, but would see nothing come of it as the Devils won key faceoffs in their defensive zone and controlled the play. Lovejoy scored into the empty net just as time was expiring and, thus, the goal did not count. So 2-1 it ended.

The three stars of the game were Boyle (number three), Compher (two) and Bratt (first star). Vatanen immediately made an impact, leading the team in time on ice with 23:13. Hall led in shots on goal with five while John Moore, with Santini out, took over the hits lead with four. New Jersey won 56-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

As an aside, MSG’s Deb Placey mentioned an interesting story about how the Avalanche actually played a role in the Devils getting Vatanen. When Colorado’s Matt Duchene was up on the trading block, Anaheim was really pushing hard for him. When Ottawa ended up making the deal for him earlier this season, the Ducks, still in need of some forward help, picked up talks with Ray Shero and the Devils ended up getting Sami Vatanen.

The goaltending stats saw Cory block away 22 of the 23 shots he saw. Varlamov was equal to 19 of 21 Devils shots. The Devils had a single shorthanded shot sprinkled in there.

So next up, the Devils leave the Mile High City for the desert. They travel to Arizona for the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow night, the second game of the three game road trip. We will have that one for you right here.

Panthers Edge Devils at Prudential Center

The Devils returned home after a quick jaunt to Detroit hoping to make it three in a row during this hectic November schedule. Unfortunately, they were dealt a defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers – one of the weaker Eastern Conference teams – for their first regulation loss to an Atlantic Division team this season in ten tries. They lost 3-2.

It was the seventh game in twelve days for New Jersey, although they get a bit of a respite this week before they head west again for a road trip that will take them through Colorado and Arizona among other stops. Speaking of that road trip, Marcus Johansson has been cleared to play and will be joining the team on that excursion.

Roster-wise, the Devils’ lineup looked much the same as Detroit with the exception of the goaltender. The Devils were back to Cory Schneider. Dalton Prout was a healthy scratch for the 12th straight game tonight. Jimmy Hayes was the scratch up front.

Florida had only won eight of their first 20 games this year but looked good tonight against the Devils. They came out and midway through the first period, Derek MacKenzie managed a shorthanded breakaway in on Cory. Schneider made the right pad save on him in what would foreshadow the first two periods with Cory making big save after big save and keeping the Devils in it while the team in front of him got outshot 31 to 10 through the first two frames.

But the Devils did create some scoring opportunities. John Moore would hit the post mid-first and the puck would just sit right in the blue paint before being cleared by a diving Panther. Brian Gibbons also had a near scoring chance on a penalty kill after he came on for Travis Zajac, whose skate blade broke, necessitating him going off for repairs. Moore also forced Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo to make a nice glove save as time expired in the first period, to keep it 0-0.

The second period was a little more action packed. It began with Miles Wood on a 2-on-2 along with Pavel Zacha. Zacha could not handle the pass from Wood and play continued on. There was also a play in front of Cory’s crease that saw him doing the snow angel to smother the puck on a Florida power play. Toronto had to review the play just to make sure that it never actually entered the net. It did not according to the replay and the game stayed 0-0.

The Panthers finally broke through at the 17:20 mark when Aleksander Barkov scored shorthanded on a 2-on-1 with Mike Matheson. The Panthers grabbed the lead and, with the way they were piling on the shots, it seemed that the Devils had dug themselves into a hole.

Thanks to a Gibbons holding the stick call at 18:53, the Panthers would be beginning the third period on the power play with fresh ice. They would not score on that one, and in fact went 0-for-3 on the night on the power play with five shots. The Devils were 0-for-2 with a single power play shot.

With the Devils down by one, they would start the chase to get back in it. They would get it just 2:20 into the third when Nico Hischier scored his fifth of the season. It came when Hischier fought for the puck along the boards. He squibbed it out to Zacha in the slot. Zacha one-touched it back to Hischier, who was skating into the slot. Hischier fired and beat Luongo to make it 1-1.

Right after that came a truly strange play, as Florida had seemed to take a 2-1 lead. The puck had ricocheted off of the rounded glass at the end of the bench and into the Devils’ net. The goal was immediately waved off by the officials, who noticed that the puck had gone off of the glass, which is out of play, and in. The Panthers could not have that play reviewed, as it is not reviewable and the faceoff came out to center ice.

But, about a minute or so after that, Vincent Trocheck would give the Panthers the 2-1 lead for real when he beat Cory at 4:07 unassisted. The Devils were behind the eight ball once again.

But they would respond when Jesper Bratt scored his seventh of the season at 8:19 unassisted to tie things at two. It happened when the Devils dumped the puck into the Panthers’ zone and Florida wound it around the boards. It popped up and Bratt gloved it down, then fired from a sharp angle. The puck went off of the skate of Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and into the Florida net. The Devils had battled back to tie things up again.

But Florida would finally put things out of reach when Jared McCann scored at 12:45 of the third to make it 3-2. He got assists from Dryden Hunt and Matheson. For Hunt, the assist was his first NHL point.

That set up a mad finish where, at 17:15, Taylor Hall and Ekblad took coincidental minors, making the game a four-on-four affair. The Devils pulled Schneider with about 1:30 remaining in the game, looking to tie things at five-on-four. When the penalties expired, it became six-on-five, but the Devils could not finish it. The Panthers came away with the 3-2 win.

The good news for the Devils is that Columbus lost too, meaning that the Devils remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division at the moment. But Zajac had mentioned pregame about the need to put points “in the bank” and this was an example of one that got away. This is only the Devils’ second regulation loss to an Eastern Conference rival this season.

Goaltending-wise, Cory made 35 saves on 38 shots while Luongo made 23 saves on 25 Devils shots. With the win, Luongo becomes just the second goalie in NHL history to get 200-plus wins for two different franchises. He has done it for Florida and Vancouver. The other player was Patrick Roy, who did it for Montreal and Colorado.

Individual stats saw Moore leading the team in ice time with 23:44. Shots on goal were led by Zacha and Damon Severson, who each had three. Brian Boyle was the hits leader with three. The Devils won only 35-percent of their faceoffs on the night, which may have played a huge part in the Devils loss.

Next up, the Devils get some time off to get acclimated to their next opponent’s environment. They head to Denver on Friday, December 1 to take on the Avalanche. It will be a rematch of the Devils opening night, which the Devils dominated. Will the outcome be similar this go around at the Pepsi Center? We will find out on Friday. Enjoy the week everyone.