Devils Win in St. Louis for First Time Since 2008

The Devils finished up a three-game road trip in St. Louis tonight, an arena that they had not won in since December of 2008.

And although this did not seem to be a recipe for the Devils coming away with a “W” (the Blues have not lost a whole lot in regulation at home this season), get that “W” the Devils did. They defeated the Blues 7-4 to put together their first two-game winning streak of the 2022 calendar year. They have also scored seven goals in back-to-back games.

The Blues were well-rested. They had not played since January 29, before the All-Star break. The lineup from Tuesday that got Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme fired, was completely intact. Lines largely stayed the same.

Janne Kuokkanen, Marian Studenic and Christian Jaros remained the Devils’ healthy scratches.

Jon Gillies got his second straight start, his first back in St. Louis after being traded to the Devils from the Blues back in December. Although his memories in St. Louis may not run that deep, getting his second win as a Devil still has to feel good.

He made 27 saves on 31 total Blues shots for an .871 save percentage. He stopped the Blues’ lone shorthanded shot and all four of their power play shots. St. Louis was kept 0-for-4 on the man advantage. At even strength, he stopped 22 shots out of 26.

Opposing him was Jordan BInnington, who made 22 saves on 27 total Devils shots. He finished the night with an .815 save percentage, stopping the Devils’ lone power play shot in the process. New Jersey went 0-for-3 on the power play as a team. At five-on-five, Binnington was 21-for-26.

The Devils, as mentioned, had not won in St. Louis since December 2008, but their last win over the Blues actually came in the team’s last meeting on March 6, 2020 at Prudential Center. That was a 4-2 Devils win that was, as per MSG’s Steve Cangialosi, Cory Schneider’s last game with the Devils and, to date, his last game in the NHL.

The Devils got the scoring started 2:12 into the game when New Jersey worked the puck down low to Andreas Johnsson, who took a shot at Binnington. Binnington made the save and the puck was partially cleared by a Blues player. He did not get all of it, however, and it made its way to PK Subban at the point. Subban stepped into the loose puck and blasted a shot that beat Binnington cleanly (albeit with Dawson Mercer acting as a screen in front).

Subban got the credit for the goal, unassisted, and it was 1-0 Devils.

New Jersey doubled up their lead later in the period at 15:07 gone by when Michael McLeod took a pass from Damon Severson in the Devils zone. He turned up ice, speeding up the left-wing side. As he cut in on the Blues’ net, he was hooked down by Robert Thomas. A delayed penalty was called, but McLeod stayed with it, moving slightly around Binnington to deposit the puck around him to negate the delayed penalty and give the Devils the 2-0 lead. Jimmy Vesey had the secondary assist.

Exactly 30 seconds after the McLeod goal, at 15:37 gone, St. Louis cut the Devils lead in half.

Their answer came when the Blues kept the puck in the Devils zone and worked it to Torey Krug at the point. Krug passed to Oskar Sundqvist down low, who quickly moved it to Klim Kostin, all alone in the slot. Kostin scored to make it 2-1, the score that would take us into the first intermission.

For the Devils, the second period looked like it may become their downfall again.

It began 5:13 into the middle frame when the Devils actually won a faceoff in their own zone. They were unable to move it out of the zone, however, and it was turned over to Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly passed back to Colton Parayko at the point. He shot and Gillies fought off the blast. The puck then just kind of plopped down next to the near side of the net with Gillies not aware of its position. Brayden Schenn won a foot race to tap it behind it Gillies and that tied the score at two.

The Blues would take the lead on a strange one about ten minutes later.

At the 15:03 mark of the second, Pavel Zacha tried to attempt a breakout for the Devils, passing the puck through the middle of the ice instead of just working it out past New Jersey’s blue line.

The puck was intercepted at the blue line by Justin Faulk and he shot on the Devils net. The shot hit the post and trickled behind Gillies. It was initially called a no goal on the ice as the puck did not seem to completely cross the goal line.

A review from the Situation Room in Toronto showed that it did, in fact, fully cross the line and the decision was overturned very quickly. The puck had gone over the goal line on its edge so most TV replays did not do a good job of showing it cross, but it did count. The goal came unassisted for Faulk. St. Louis now had a 3-2 lead to take into the third period.

In the third, the Devils came alive.

Just 9:08 into final period, Nico Hischier took a fast zone breakout pass from Ty Smith. Nico was hit in the very middle of the ice with Smith’s pass and broke in with Yegor Sharangovich on a 2-on-1. Hischier made a great backhand pass to Sharangovich, who finished the feed to tie the game up at three.

Hischier would notch one of his own at 11:34 gone by when the teams were playing at 4-on-4.

A few seconds before, at 10:59, the Blues’ Niko Mikkola had hit Jesper Boqvist along the left-wing boards in the neutral zone. It was not a dirty hit by any means, but Boqvist was rocked for a second.

Mercer stepped in to come to Boqvist’s aid and he and Mikkola tussled a bit but did not fight. Both went off for roughing and the teams were set to play at 4-on-4.

Sharangovich had given the puck to Subban, who carried the puck up the right side into the St. Louis zone. Sharangovich went towards the Blues net while Subban made a cross-ice pass to Hischier after PK sold his own shot to draw the Blues defenseman towards him.

Nico took the pass and finished, putting it behind Binnington, who could not get across his crease fast enough to stop Hischier’s shot. That gave the Devils back the lead at 4-3. It also extended Nico’s goal-scoring streak to three games.

Vesey would give New Jersey a two-goal cushion at 17:41 gone by in the third period. The Devils had just finished killing off a penalty a few seconds prior and Vesey took the puck from Jonas Siegenthaler in the Devils zone. Vesey then skated the length of the rink, making a nice move around the Blues’ defense, moving to his backhand as he moved to the right. He got a lot on the shot and it blew past Binnington to make it 5-3 Devils. Zacha had the secondary assist.

That Vesey insurance goal would prove to be very valuable as St. Louis scored at the 18:17 mark.

Krug got the puck to Pavel Buchnevich, who weaved the puck up the rink towards the Devils zone.

He took it himself deep and then centered to Schenn in the slot. Schenn reached out and tapped the the Buchnevich pass by Gillies to make it 5-4 Devils.

Things were getting tight and the Blues pulled Binnington right after play restarted off of Schenn’s second goal.

Jesper Boqvist iced the game here by scoring into the empty Blues net off assists from Severson and Gillies (the Devils goaltender’s first point in a New Jersey uniform). It was then 6-4 Devils.

Following that empty netter, Binnington was pulled a second time, allowing Hischier to score his second goal of the game on  a rare second empty netter to finally give us our final of 7-4. Sharangovich had the lone assist on the goal.

For the second game in a row, the Devils had scored seven goals on their opponent.

The Blues narrowly outshot the Devils 31-29. The Devils won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Zacha leading the centers with a 62-percent personal winning percentage.

The Devils took ten penalty minutes total as team while the Blues amassed eight.

Although the reason Mason Geertsen was playing his second straight game – his first back-to-back games in the lineup since the end of December – was largely to counter the Blues as a “heavy” physical team, the Devils were still massively outhit 25 to four.

St. Louis edged New Jersey in blocked shots with 14 to the Devils’ 12. The Blues had 15 team giveaways while the Devils had seven.

Ice time saw Severson log 24:39 total (3:06 of power play time and 3:12 of PK time) while Ryan Graves led the defensemen in shorthanded time with 4:34 logged out of his 21:41 of total TOI.

For the forwards, Hischier led in total time with 19:07 logged (including 2:54 on the PP and 2:43 on the PK).

Hischier (two goals, one assist, three points), Vesey (one goal, one assist, two points), Sharangovich (one goal, two assists, three points), Severson (two assists) and Subban (a goal and an assist, two points) all achieved multi-point nights.

Shots were led by Siegenthaler who had five. Severson had two hits to lead in that category. Jesper Bratt had two blocks to lead that column. Personal giveaways were led by Graves with three while personal takeaways were led by McLeod with five.

Next up, the Devils return home for a game on Super Bowl Sunday with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1:30 PM.

We will have a recap of that game for you up right after the MSG+ broadcast. After that, we’ll settle in to enjoy some football and, possibly, savor a Devils win over a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, just as they achieved tonight.

Until then, enjoy the rest of the week everyone!

Devils Edged in Columbus as Jackets Take Second Half of Home-and-Home

The Devils completed their home-and-home series with the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio tonight with a severely shorthanded lineup. Despite this, they were able to stay in the game until the end, but ultimately lost 4-3.

Roster issues to start with. Dougie Hamilton is still out for the foreseeable future with a broken jaw that he had successful surgery for last week. However, he was also added to the team’s COVID Protocol earlier today. He was not alone.

Hamilton, Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha (the latter two of which were already on the list) were joined on the COVID list by Nate Bastian, Mason Geertsen and Devils leading scorer Jesper Bratt.

Losing Bratt is obviously especially hard for the Devils to overcome. He and Jack Hughes had been rolling and this just completely kills momentum for them. Bratt was missing just his second game of the season.

Columbus saw the opposite end of the COVID list issue. They got defenseman Zach Werenski back out of Protocol, a player the Blue Jackets did not have for the game at New Jersey on Thursday.

With the chunk taken out of the Devils lineup, some creative changes were in store for fans. Forward AJ Greer and defenseman Colton White slotted into the lineup with Greer making his season debut with the Devils. They had been available on the Taxi Squad. The Devils would go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen which would lead to some mixing and matching along the way.

Dawson Mercer moved up to the first line, playing right wing with Jack Hughes centering and Tomas Tatar at left wing.

Greer played left wing on a line with Michael McLeod centering and Marian Studenic at right wing.

Goaltender Jon Gillies was the Devils’ lone healthy scratch.

And with that, the one place that things have stayed pretty consistent for the Devils has been in net. Mackenzie Blackwood made his sixth straight start tonight and made 30 saves off of Columbus’ 34 total shots. He finished the night with an .882 save percentage. He stopped the Jackets’ one shorthanded shot and four of their five power play shots. The Blue Jackets were 1-for-3 on the man advantage. At even strength, Blackwood stopped 25 of the Jackets’ 28 shots.

Joonas Korpisalo went for the Blue Jackets again tonight and was equal to 27 of the Devils’ 30 total shots he had thrown at him for a .900 save percentage on the game. This included saving both New Jersey shorthanded chances and all six of their power play shots. The Devils went 0-for-3 on the power play.  At five-on-five, he saved 19 of the Devils’ 22 shots.

The Jackets had a pregame ceremony tonight honoring Jakub Voracek, who played in his 1,000th NHL game against the Devils on Thursday at Prudential Center.

The Devils have also dropped their last five visits to Nationwide Arena – including their last trip there, January 18, 2020, a 5-0 Blue Jackets win. The Jackets were in the temporary Central Division last season and did not play the Devils.

The Blue Jackets wasted no time in getting on the board.

Just 42 seconds into the game, Damon Severson was called for a hook, which put the Jackets on the power play early.

And, though the Devils dodged this particular bullet at Prudential Center on Thursday, Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has become a true Devil killer, would put Columbus up in front.

It happened with 2:01 gone by in the first when Patrik Laine recovered a save made by Blackwood on Boone Jenner. Laine passed to Voracek (who had drawn the penalty in the first place) on the right side. He quickly moved it to Bjorkstrand at the left side of Blackwood’s net and Bjorkstrand tapped the pass in to make it 1-0 Columbus.

Jenner did not get a point out of that goal but would notch the Jackets’ second one. This came 2:02 after the Bjorkstrand goal and it was a weird one.

Jenner was behind the Devils net and threw it in front sort of out of desperation. Hughes was coming back, back checking through the slot and the puck deflected off of his right skate and in past Blackwood. Adam Boqvist (secondary) and Gustav Nyquist (primary) had the assists on the goal and it was now 2-0 Blue Jackets.

The Jackets had taken control of the early part of the period and jumped out to the quick 2-0 lead.

The Devils, however, would come roaring back at the end of the period and tie things before the intermission.

At the 14:41 mark, the Devils won the puck out of the far corner and Jimmy Vesey guided back to Severson at the point. Severson found Nico Hischier in the middle of the ice wide open. Nico’s shot snuck through Korpisalo’s arm and in as the Columbus goalie could not squeeze it and hold on. That cut the Jackets lead in half at 2-1.

And the Devils’ come back was in full force. With 20 seconds to go in the first, Vesey struck again. A Blue Jacket player knocked down a Devils pass and inadvertently kept the puck in his zone. Mercer grabbed it and passed through a seam to Vesey, who got off a quick shot that defected and changed direction on Korpisalo and went in. The Devils had tied the game up at two heading into the second period.

For Vesey, this was his first multi-point game since March 3, 2021 according to MSG+ and Steve Cangialosi. At that point, he was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs and accomplished the feat at the Edmonton Oilers.

In a back-and-forth game, the momentum would shift right back to the Blue Jackets in the second period.

At 9:31 gone by in the new period, the Jackets dumped the puck into the Devils zone. It went into the near corner and Sean Kuraly, on the forecheck, hit the Devils’ defenseman hard, taking him off the puck and out of the play for a second. Kuraly then centered to Bellmawr, New Jersey-native Eric Robinson, who sept the puck towards Yegor Chinakhov, who then scored into the empty side of Blackwood’s cage to put the Jackets back in front 3-2.

The Devils would respond on this one, though, when Marian Studenic scored at the 13:32 mark. That one came when Jesper Boqvist cut up the right side and into the Blue Jackets zone. He shoveled it on net with a backhand with Studenic driving to the front of the net, fighting through a check. Studenic would hammer the puck home after one or two hacks at it. That would tie the game again, this time at three apiece.

The second period would end on a deflating note for the Devils.

While on the power play, with Max Domi having gone off for hooking Greer – a power play for the Devils that would finish out the second period and continue on to the third if the Devils did not score – Hischier had a chance stopped by Korpisalo as the Columbus goaltender made an amazing glove save on him, going right to left across his crease.

It was a great save and the Devils were visibly knocked out by it. Columbus would eventually kill the rest of the power play in the third.

They probably did not lose the game because of that save, but it sure did not help the Devils’ mentality for sure.

And then the dagger, brought down by, who else? Oliver Bjorkstrand.

With five minutes gone by in the third, the Devils won a faceoff deep in their defensive zone. The puck, however, instead of going back towards the corner, the Devils’ defense and safety, went forward to Adam Boqvist at the near point. Boqvist moved it to Voracek at the near half wall. Voracek quickly found a seam across to Bjorkstrand, set up at the far side of Blackwood’s net. Bjorkstrand blasted a shot that went in and made it 4-3 Blue Jackets.

With the puck being pushed forward off of the faceoff, the draw actually functioned as a faceoff win for Columbus for all intents and purposes, despite the Devils officially winning it.

The Devils would pull Blackwood with just about over two minutes remaining in regulation. They would fight hard but just could not get the equalizer and 4-3 was our final as the final horn (and cannon shot) fired.

It was another normal Devils-Blue Jackets game as Bjorkstrand ended up victimizing New Jersey with two goals in the end.

Columbus outshot the Devils 34 to 30. The Devils won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs with McLeod leading personally with a 52-percent win percentage.

Each team ended the game with six total penalty minutes while the Jackets outhit the Devils 24-13. Columbus also edged the Devils in blocked shots with ten to New Jersey’s nine. Team giveaways saw the Jackets with 12 while the Devils only registered one.

Severson led all Devils skaters with 26:42 of total ice time (which included 4:38 of power play time and 2:17 of shorthanded time). Ryan Graves led the defensemen in PK time with 3:25 of shorthanded time out of his 20:10 of total ice time. He also played 19 seconds on the power play.

Hughes led the forwards with 25:48 of total ice time – including 4:59 on the PP and eight seconds on the PK. Hischier led the forwards in penalty kill minutes with 2:42 out of his 21:35 of total time. He also played 3:57 on the man advantage.

Vesey led the Devils in points with two (one goal and one assist) as Jack Hughes’ point scoring streak ended at five games. He did not register a point tonight.

Hughes did lead the Devils in shots on goal with five. Defenseman Christian Jaros led the Devils in hits with three. Severson, Graves and Jonas Siegenthaler led in blocked shots with two each. Vesey had the Devils’ only giveaway with one to lead there while Janne Kuokkanen had two takeaways to lead in that category.

And with that, the Devils will try to get back to their winning ways while also hoping to get relatively healthy again next week.

This will be another tall order as their next game comes Monday at home in Newark against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM at Prudential Center and the game will be shown on MSG+.

We will have coverage of that game for you right here then. In the meantime, have a great end of the weekend everyone!