First off, a very happy Easter to all those celebrating!
So the bad news? The Devils were swept in a season series by the Capitals for the first time since 2015-16 when they lost all four games to them. They lost six and tied one with the Caps in 1982-83. They also became the first team to drop an eight game season series since the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins eight times over the 2007-08 season.
The good news? These two teams will not be meeting again this season!
Big news for the Devils camp as Kyle Palmieri was held out for precautionary reasons. The trade deadline is eight days away and we will see if both sides can agree to an extension or Kyle gets traded. Will Butcher and Aaron Dell were the other healthy scratches.
In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood had a rare afternoon. For the first time in four games he did not face 40 shots or more. He saw just 19 of them and turned aside 14 for a ;737 save percentage. He let in Washington’s only shorthanded shot and one of their three power play chances. At even strength he was 12-for-15.
In goal for the Caps was Ilya Samsonov. He stopped 29-of-32 at even strength, got all seven of the Devils’ power play shots and stopped 35-of-39 total for an .897 save percentage.
It was Kid’s Day at the Rock, with Nickelodeon characters out in full force to entertain the younger fans.
Travis Zajac scored the first goal of the game when Ryan Murray got the puck up to Nick Merkley – who was slotted in for Palmieri – who was along the near boards. Zajac was trailing \and received a pass for he one-timer an the goal.
But the Caps tied tihings at the 9:16 mark of the first when Brenden Dillion got the puck to Alex Ovechkin he passed off of the boards and Dmitry Kulikov’s skate to TJ Oshie, who made a power move around Kulikov and towards the net scored. The game was tied at one.
The Caps started to pull ahead in the second period. It began when Conor SHeary scored at the 3:21 mark. It was tic-tac-toe Justin Shultz to Dmitry Orlov to Sheary, who’s shot redirected in off of Damon Severson to give the Capitals the 2-2 lead.
It would be Ovechkin’s turn at 8:09 on the power play. After a Capital win on an offensive zone draw Evgeny Kuznetsov got it to Nicklas Backstrom at the near half wall. He passed to Ocechkin waiting on the doorstep a he just tapped it in. That goal tied Ovechkin with Brett Hull on the all-time NHL power play goal list (265 for both of them as he continues to assault the record books.
Before the second period was up, Yegor Sharangovich got the Devils back into the game. It saw Jack Hughes give Ryan Murray who hit Sharangovich through the neutral zone. He broke through tee Washington line, using Orlov as a screen, he shot an scored, making it 4-2 Caps.
In the third, Carl Hagelin started the scoring, doubling up het Capitals’ lead. He scored shorthanded when the puck got by Damon Severson at the blur line. Garnet Hathaway grabbed it and raced up ice. With two Devils’ defensemen on him, he then thread the needle, making a slick pass by Garnet Hathaway, who passed back to Hagelin. Hagelin scored and it was now 4-2 Caps.
Kuznetsov made it 5-2 when he scored at 5:31 of the third. It was a Russian connection as Orlov broke into the Devils zone, lost the puck, but Ovechkin picked it up for him. He then passed backdoor to Kuznetsov who again tapped tpu ck into the net.
But the Devils still had some life. A mini comeback was in order. It began at 10:15 of the third when Pavel Zacha grabbed a loose puck after a battle along the board. He passed to Jesper Bratt in front who scored to make I 5-3.
Zajac would scored his second at 15:53 when Merkley passed to him to Zajac at the faceoff dot. He ripped a one-timer and scored. Giving him two goals, two assists to Merkley and two to Ryan Murray, who had the secondary assist.
But despite the Devils pulling Blackwood with 2:15 left in regulation, that was it for the scoring and our final was 5-4 Washington.
Team wise, the Devils outshot the Caps, 29-19, won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had less giveaways at three to the Caps’ four. Washington did lead in this (22-18) and blocked shtots (15-6).
Michael McLeod led the centers in faceoff winning percentage with 75-percent. Jack Hughes led in time on ice with 24:13 while Ty Smith led the defensemen with 20:41. Power play time was led by Zacha and Zajac with 5:42 each.
Hughes led in shots on goal with foru, hits were led by Mikhail Maltsev and Severson who both had two. Blocks were led by Sami Vatanen with two and takeaways were led by Janne Kuokkanen and Bratt with two each,
Next up, the Devils will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. We will, of course have coverage for you right here.
Until then, I’m very tired and going to go to bed.