Devils Pick Up OT Win in Vancouver

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.

Devils’ Win Streak Ends at Five in Anaheim

The Devils rolled into Anaheim the winners of five straight but the victims of a bad break. It was announced yesterday that Taylor Hall would miss 3 to 4 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. He was back in New Jersey where he underwent the surgery.

Michael Cammalleri would also not be with the team for this road trip. But there was some good news from he is expected to be back for the homestand in New Jersey. According to Deb Placey in the MSG+ pregame show, John Hynes said that his personal situation with his family is “progressing in a positive direction.”

So, without their top sniper as well as one of their leading scorers in Hall, they would head into California to begin the last part of a western road string. They had won five straight, their longest winning streak in three and a half years, although they were only playing at NHL .500 on the road.

Since the two clubs met in the Devils’ home opener back in October, some things had changed. The Ducks had gotten Hampus Lindholm back, signing him out of his holdout. Also, the Ducks were now atop the Pacific Division, a way better hockey team than the Devils had faced last month.

Jon Merrill made his season debut for the Devils, coming off of injured reserve to replace Yohann Auvitu on the back end (Auvitu was a little banged up following the Dallas game). In other lineup switches, Pavel Zacha moved from center to left wing for the game.

In net for the Devils was Cory Schneider who was solid, making 20 saves on just 23 Ducks shots. The Devils did a good job containing Anaheim, keeping them to only those 23 shots. Anaheim sent out a bit of a surprise, starting Jonathan Bernier between the pipes. He made 27 saves on the Devils’ 29 shots on goal.

Coach John Hynes sent out Kyle Palmieri, Devante Smith-Pelly and Ben Lovejoy to start the game, all former Ducks, similar to what he did with Vern Fiddler in Dallas.

After a scoreless first period which saw spurts of action – in the early minutes Adam Henrique put a little bit too much on a pass to Zacha in front that bounced over the big Czech’s stick. In the final seconds of the period, Cory made a big save and Henrique was able to clear the rebound from the crease. The Devils looked good going into the second frame.

Early in the second period, at about the 14:40 mark, the Devils were on a 2-on-0 when Beau Bennett took the pass and bobbled the puck and had to shoot from a sharp angle. Although he did not score on the play (which is frustrating for him, as he is still looking for his first goal of the year), the Devils did draw a penalty and would go on the power play.

But they would not score, as they went 0-for-3 with the man advantage, including late in the game when they had a chance to tie things up as we shall see. They did hold Anaheim 0-for-2 on the power play as well, so their penalty kill is still solid.

The Devils would finally break through when former Duck Devante Smith-Pelly scored at 10:32 of the second. It occurred when Jacob Josefson won the offensive zone draw for the Devils back to John Moore. Moore went point-to-point with Kyle Quincey, who fired on net. Smith-Pelly deflected the shot by Bernier and the Devils took a 1-0 lead.

Things looked in the Devils’ favor, as the team was 4-0-2 when scoring the first goal of the game and the Ducks had not won a game this season where they had given up the first goal of the game.

About three and a half minutes later, Quincey would find the back of the net himself when Adam Henrique and Pavel Zacha cycled down low and eventually gave the puck to Quincey at the point. He fired and beat Bernier cleanly, doubling up the Devils lead to 2-0. Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle would challenge the goal, challenging goalie interference on Kyle Palmieri. The replay showed that Palmieri was not near Bernier when the puck was already by the Ducks’ goaltender. The call on the ice stood, it was a good goal and Anaheim lost their timeout.

The Devils lead would last for about three and a half minutes until 17:24 when it would begin crashing down. First, Rickard Rakell scored his fifth of the year with an assist to Ryan Getzlaf. Less than 20 seconds after that goal, Jakob Silfverberg notched his sixth with assists to Korbinian Holzer and Andrew Cogliano. Suddenly, in a flurry of action, the game was tied up at two.

Cogliano would be at the center of a scrum in the middle of the third period when he gave Schneider a snow shower. PA Parenteau took exception to it and the teams started pushing and shoving. Emotions were high and Cogliano had been a thorn in the Devils’ side all night.

Things would remain tied up until 16:20 of the third when Ryan Kesler poked the puck in off of a scramble in front of Cory. Josh Manson and Silfverberg had the assists. With just about four minutes left in the game, New Jersey suddenly found themselves down 3-2.

But, the Devils would seemingly have a reprieve when Manson was called for tripping Zacha just 11 seconds after the Anaheim goal. The Devils were on the power play late and had a chance to tie it. They would pull Schneider with a few seconds left on the man advantage to make it a 6-on-4, but were unable to find the back of the net. With Cory pulled and repeated icings by the Ducks, they still could not get anything going in the offensive zone and ultimately fell 3-2.

The bright side, as the Devils head up to Los Angeles for a game on Saturday, is that it remains that all but one of their losses this year have come by only one goal. This also concludes the Devils’ season series with the Ducks, having a 1-1 record with them.

The team will need to regroup quickly. They lost a close one to a good Anaheim Ducks club. Now they need to be ready for the Kings and a 4 PM puck drop on Saturday.