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.