Devils End Blues’ Eight-Game Winning Streak

The Devils reeled off their fifth straight win at the Prudential Center tonight and, more importantly, finally beat the St. Louis Blues for the first time since January 24, 2014. They won 4-2, defeating the defending Stanley Cup champs in a memorable one.

The Blues had not lost since beating the Devils last month. They had set up and knocked down eight opponents and the Devils seemed like easy pickings. New Jersey was coming back from a West Coast trip and, as mentioned, had not beaten the Blues since 2014, which equaled 12 straight wins for St. Louis. But for one night, Cory Schneider stood tall and the Devils played about as well as they could and produced one hell of a game.

Some roster news to get to as the Devils announced yesterday that Will Butcher was done for the year, having successful surgery on thumb ligaments. In addition, Josh Jacobs and Jesper Boqvist were sent back down to Binghamton of the American League. Boqvist can get some more seasoning there, and, as many have pointed out, can play in a playoff race as the B-Devils are in the thick of a playoff push, giving him crucial experience in that kind of situation. Fredrik Claesson slotted back in on the blue line.

In goal, as mentioned, Cory Schneider went for the Devils, making 31 saves on 33 total St. Louis shots, en route to being named the first star of the night. He had a .939 save percentage on the night. It has been great seeing Cory come back to being the Cory we all knew. The win was his first at Prudential Center since March of 2019.

The way he is playing certainly takes a lot of pressure off of Mackenzie Blackwood, who, speaking of which, will see the start tomorrow night at the Rangers. The feeling from interim coach Alain Nasreddine is that Blackwood will be getting some experience playing in a hostile arena like the Garden and will get a chance to play spoiler to New York’s playoff hopes. It should serve to improve the youngster’s confidence even more.

Facing Schneider was St. Louis’ number one, Jordan Binnington. Binnington made 28 saves on 31 Devils shots for a .903 save percentage on the night.

One other roster move saw Miles Wood moved to the top line with Nico Hischier centering and Kyle Palmieri on the right wing.

The Devils were playing their first game in Newark since February 22 and, coming off of a great western swing, they were looking to build.

Jesper Bratt obliged them just 8:38 into the game when he scored. It came off of a defensive zone faceoff. PK Subban quickly transitioned the puck up to Bratt, who cut into the zone, used some nice edgework to make a power move in on Binnington, used a stutter step on him to open him up and scored. The goal was the first of the season for the Devils against the Blues, as they were blanked 3-0 in their trip to Missouri two weeks ago.

But St. Louis being what they were, the Stanley Cup champions, they came roaring right back. At the 12:31 mark of the fist period, Vince Dunn scored on a power play opportunity set up when Damon Severson got the gate for a hook. The Devils could not clear their zone when Dunn bobbled the puck along the far boards. He got it back to Robert Thomas at the point. He went across the blue line to Tyler Bozak, who shot. The rebound came back out to Dunn and he buried his chance. The game was knotted at one apiece.

On special teams, St. Louis was 1-for-4 with seven shots. They also had a pair of shorthanded shots as well. The Devils were 0-for-2 with four shots on the power play and two on the penalty kill.

The second period saw the Devils begin to break away a little. It began 6:50 in when Dakota Mermis tallied his first NHL goal. Severson took a shot and the rebound came to Mermis in the middle of the ice. He spun and, from an odd angle, scored. It was his first NHL goal in 18 games at the level and none other than Cory Schneider got the secondary assist. It was the second time this season that I can recall, that a Devils goaltender recorded a point.

Mermis grew up in Illinois, 30 minutes outside of St. Louis and rooted for the Blues as a kid. What a thrill it must have been for him to get his first NHL goal against the team he grew up rooting for. Congratulations to him.

About 11:08 later, Connor Carrick made it 3-1 Devils when Travis Zajac dug the puck out of the corner and got it to Claesson at the point. He went D-to-D with Carrick, ripped a shot and beat Binnnigton cleanly.

Twenty-nine seconds later, the Devils seemingly made it 4-1 when Kevin Rooney scored. Rooney cut to the net and scored on the power move on a nice backhand shot. Unfortunately, his right skate clipped Binnington’s pad as he cut in. Blues coach Craig Berube used his coach’s challenge, alleging goalie interference. The officials reviewed it and agreed. The call on the ice of a good goal was overturned to no goal.

The official statement from the NHL stated that Rooney “impaired” Binnington from playing his position before the puck entered the net and, hence, it was no goal.

The Blues would come back to cut the Devil lead to one when Jaden Schwartz took a centering pass from Brayden Schenn and scored. Schenn made a nice play behind the Devils’ net, anticipating Zajac trying to move the puck to Severson near the side of the right goalpost, and cutting the puck off, turning and making a lightning quick pass to Schwartz in front. That made it 3-2 Devils at the 16:49 mark of the third period.

The Blues pulled Binnington with about 1:50 left in regulation and Joey Anderson put a capper on it by scoring off of a 2-on-1 with Pavel Zacha into the empty net with 57 seconds to go. Mirco Mueller had the secondary assist on the goal that iced things at 4-2.

The Devils had their elusive win over the Blues and things were looking good as Bratt was the third star and Mermis the second (although they came out to acknowledge the crowd in reverse order). Cory was the first star, as mentioned.

The Devils were narrowly outshot by St. Louis, 33-32, outhit 23-21, had less blocked shots at 11 to ten and had more giveaways at 16 to the Blues’ nine.

The Devils did win 57-percent of the game’s faceoffs, with Michael McLeod winning 75-percent of his to lead the centers, although he was not playing full minutes.

And speaking of minutes, Severson led everyone with 25:26 (including 2:17 on the power play and 2:49 on the PK, as an example of a player who is entrusted with minutes in all situations. Hischier led the forwards in ice time with 17:31 (1:11 on the PP and 37 seconds on the penalty kill included).

Shots on goal were led by Wood and Carrick who each had five. Hits were led by John Hayden, Mermis and Claesson who had three each. Blocks by Mermis with two and takeaways by Zacha with two.

Overall, it was not pretty, but the Devils did it, finally exorcising the Blues. Next up, it’s a trip across the Hudson River to take on the Rangers in Manhattan. This will be another test as the Rangers have been playing very well of late and are in the playoff hunt. Nothing would be sweeter than to knock the Rangers down a peg even if for the moment.

Puck drop is 7 PM for that one and we will have coverage for you right here afterwards. In the meantime, I really hope everyone has wonderful weekend.

Devils Fall in OT for Second Straight Game

Happy Leap Day everyone! The Devils leapt from San Jose down the West Coast to Los Angeles and fell tonight to the Kings, 2-1 in overtime.

The big news for this game was that Joey Anderson would be playing against his brother Mikey. Mikey made his NHL debut tonight for the Kings and Joey became the fourth Devil to face his brother tonight. He joined Jesper Boqvist, who faced his brother Adam in Chicago; Jack Hughes, who faced his brother Quinn of Vancouver twice this year; and PK Subban, who faced his goalie brother Malcolm when Vegas came to New Jersey. MSG Network kept referencing the brothers playing each other but did not acknowledge the Subbans. According to my records Malcolm did start the game against the Golden Knights on December 3. Malcolm is now with the Blackhawks, as he was traded at the deadline.

Speaking of Jesper Boqvist, though, he was recalled from AHL Binghamton and will join the team tomorrow in Anaheim. He was listed as a scratch for the Devils along with Josh Jacobs and Will Butcher. The lineup was exactly the same as the game on Thursday against San Jose.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood saw his six-game winning streak ended. Had he succeeded; he would have joined Sean Burke as the only other Devils’ rookie goalie to win seven in a row. Burke did that back in 1987-88.

Blackwood stopped 36 of the 38 shots he saw for a .947 save percentage. He also saw his 70-plus minute personal shutout streak against Los Angeles ended as well. Blackwood was named the third star of the night at the conclusion of the game.

Facing him was Jonathan Quick. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner was making his first start in seven days for the Kings. He turned aside 32 of 33 Devils shots for a .970 save percentage. He was named the second star of the night.

Penalties were few and far between in the game. The Devils were 0-for-1 on the power play with five shots and a hit post. The Kings did not have a power play opportunity as the Devils finished up clean.

The Kings were in their white Stadium Series uniforms with the metallic silver helmet and white gloves. Because of this, the Devils’ red uniforms made a now-rare road appearance.

Jesper Bratt got the scoring kicked off 7:19 into the first period when he and Nikita Gusev made a nice give-and-go play. Gusev got the puck and made a beautiful move to step around the Kings’ defender. He made a slick pass back to Bratt who scored. Bratt now has six points in six games. It was 1-0 Devils and would remain that way for a while.

A scary moment early in the first, as the Kings’ Blake Lizotte tried to lay a hit on Connor Carrick deep in the Devils’ zone. He missed and kind of tumbled awkwardly into the end boards. He left down the tunnel to be looked at, but did return. He would actually pick up the primary assist on the game winner in overtime.

Blackwood made two very big stops late in the first period to keep it 1-0, but the LA equalizer came in the second when Dustin Brown scored.

The Devils got trapped in their own zone for a good amount of time as LA applied pressure. Anze Kopitar played give-and-go with Brown, much like the Devils goal, and Brown got it back all alone in front of the Devils’ net. He shot over Blackwood’s shoulder to tie the game up. Alex Iafallo had the other assist on the goal.

Midway through the third period, it looked like the Devils would get on the board again when Gusev and Bratt again teamed up on a 2-on-1. They were, however, stopped by Quick, who also got the follow-up shot from Pavel Zacha.

And with that, it was a second trip to OT in California for the Devils.

The Kings lead the NHL in wins in the 4-on-4 format in OT all-time and they were true to form tonight.

They gained possession of the puck right off the bat and never gave it up. The Devils barely touched rubber all OT. Iafallo was stopped early in on a partial breakaway and then, at the 1:58 mark, Adrian Kempe put the kibosh on the game for the Kings.

Lizotte entered the Devils’ zone with the puck while recognizing that New Jersey was changing. He dished to Kempe who got a quick wrist shot off to beat Blackwood and win the game for Los Angeles. Brown had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils were outshot 38-33 and the Kings won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs. The Devils were led by Michael McLeod who won 57-percent of his personal faceoffs. The Devils were outhit by a wide margin at 32-17 and had more turnovers than LA at 12 to the Kings’ five. The Devils led in blocks at 17-10. According to Steve Cangialosi of MSG Network, all of those blocks came in the first and second periods.

Time on ice was led by Subban and Damon Severson who both logged 22:44 of total ice time. Severson had 50 seconds on the Devils’ lone power play while Subban had 1:05 on that same man advantage. Gusev led the forwards with 19:38 (including 1:05 on the game’s only power play). He continued his stellar play of late.

Shots were led by Connor Carrick with four. Hits by Zacha and Dakota Mermis with three each. Blocked shots by Mermis with four. Takeaways by Nico HIschier, John Hayden, Kevin Rooney, Miles Wood and Bratt with one each.

It is a quick turnaround for the Devils as they board a bus and go to Orange County to take on a struggling Anaheim Ducks team. That game is at 8 PM ET and we will have coverage for you tomorrow. Until then, I hope everyone is having a great weekend.