After slaying the beast and finally getting a win in Calgary, the Devils headed to Vancouver’s Rogers Arena to take on the Canucks. It would be a tough game for New Jersey; Vancouver is right in the thick of things in the Western Conference playoff chase. But the Devils cashed in on a tremendous defensive play from Travis Zajac in overtime to win the game 2-1.
The Devils would be seeing Bo Horvat, the player chosen with the pick the Canucks got in exchange for Cory Schneider back during the 2013 Draft. Horvat is the first non-Sedin twin to lead the Canucks in scoring since 2005-06, more than a decade. He has 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 44 games so far this season for Vancouver.
The Devils lineup stayed roughly the same as the game at the Flames. Luke Gazdic and Seth Helgeson were the healthy scratches while Sergey Kalinin is out with a lower body injury. Andy Greene did not play tonight, although he did practice with the team on Saturday. He may be available for Tuesday’s game at Minnesota. For Vancouver, Andrey Pedan, Anton Rodin and former Devil picked up on waivers, Reid Boucher were all scratched. Boucher has yet to play a game for the Canucks since being claimed off waivers in early January.
The goalie matchup saw Cory Schneider returning to his former stomping grounds (although he has been a Devil long enough that he said that the return to Vancouver does not really affect him anymore). He made 21 saves on 22 shots faced. Backstopping the Canucks was the big Swede (he stands 6-feet, 6-inches tall – one of the tallest goalies in the NHL) Jacob Markstrom. He made 20 saves on 22 Devils shots.
Both goalies were sharp and they had to be. Early in the frist period, a shot by Vancouver’s Alex Biega at the point deflected off of Loui Eriksson’s leg and hit the post, giving Cory some trouble. The Devils got lucky there and were able to get out of the first period with no score.
Markstrom had his battle early in the second period when he robbed Michael Cammalleri who was trying to go top shelf on him. Cammalleri got the puck after Kyle Palmieri was able to strip it away from a Canuck player and create the scoring chance. It was still 0-0.
And that was it until the 6:31 mark of the second when Eriksson scored a bizarre one. The call on the ice was initially no goal when he beat Schneider. The officials originally thought that the shot, which beat Cory high stick-side, had hit the outside of the crossbar and come out. Replays showed that the puck did clear the goal line to make it 1-0 Vancouver. Part of what happened on that play was that Adam Henrique had lost his stick on the face off prior and, without one, was unable to get anything in the passing lane from Henrik Sedin to Eriksson. Daniel Sedin had the secondary assist on that goal.
The Devils nearly tied things up a few minutes later when the puck seemed to be trickling over the goal line on a play when the net came off of its moorings. Markstrom had actually corralled it before it went over and the call on the ice was no goal.
Kyle Quincey would tie things up for New Jersey at the 16:57 mark when Taylor Hall used his speed to gain the Canucks’ zone. From there, Beau Bennett took it from Hall in the corner. He slid it to Damon Severson at the far point who then moved it to the other point and Quincey. Quincey fired and beat Markstrom to tie the game at one apiece. Bennett’s assist was his first point of the 2017 calendar year. Quincey’s goal was his first since November 17.
The Devils did not get their first power play until 6:12 of the third period. They did not score and, in fact, gave up a shorthanded breakaway early in the advantage to Brandon Sutter. Cory made the stop and the game remained tied. On the power play for the evening, the Devils were 0-for-1 while Vancouver was 0-for-3.
The Devils had seemingly taken a 2-1 lead late in the third period when it seemed the puck had entered the goal before a whistle blew on the ice. The officials called it a goal on the ice, saying it went in prior to the whistle. Replays showed that Blake Coleman had banked it in off of Markstrom’s right skate. It seemed the Devils had taken the lead and that Coleman had his first NHL goal.
The Canucks immediately called for a coach’s challenge alleging that Taylor Hall was offside as he entered the zone prior to the goal. The replay showed that he entered the Canucks’ zone, getting both skates in before he carried the puck completely over the blue line. With that, the call was reversed and the goal was disallowed. It was a good call, but a tough one for the Devils.
Cory Schneider finished regulation making a big save on Loui Eriksson, keeping it 1-1 and forcing overtime.
The OT period was a good one. The Devils’ game winner came just 1:28 into it when Hall first gave the puck away in the offensive zone. This led to a two-on-one for the Canucks. Travis Zajac then hustled back on the back check, making a fantastic play. He went up and over Sven Baertschi, cleanly avoiding a penalty and taking the puck from him, giving it back to Hall. Hall then broke into the Vancouver zone on a two-on-one the other way with Damon Severson. Hall elected to shoot and beat Marskstrom, giving the Devils the 2-1 victory.
With that, the Devils have taken five of a possible six points in the western Canada trip. But up next, they have a big test in the Minnesota Wild. The Wild currently lead the Central Division with the best record in the Western Conference after they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks today. Getting a win in Minnesota would be gigantic for the Devils. That game is 8 PM eastern time on Tuesday. Again, a win would give the Devils some traction in the Eastern Conference playoff race and a little bit of momentum as they return home.