Devils Fall in OT for Second Straight Game

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.

Blackwood Earns Second Straight Shutout as Devils Down Kings 3-0

The Devils defeated the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Prudential Center to earn a point in their sixth straight game. That six-game point streak is a season high as they now improve to 3-0-3 since the bye week/All-Star break.

The 3-0 win also saw Mackenzie Blackwood extend his personal shutout streak to 135:03 over his last three games. He shut out Philadelphia in his last outing. He made 37 saves tonight in blanking the Kings. The Devils scored their three goals in about a five-minute span in the second period to ice this one.

The Kings came in with the worst record in the Western Conference standing in last place in the Pacific Division. However, these things are not always predictable as the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league and the Devils knocked them off on Thursday, shutting them out.

Still, the Devils were without both Nico Hischier – who is still working with the team’s medical staff according to MSG Network’s Erika Wachter and has not resumed skating yet – and Sami Vatanen. Vatanen did skate this morning but remained out of the lineup tonight. As a result, the lineup remained the same as Thursday. Colton White was the team’s healthy scratch.

We mentioned Blackwood’s outstanding performance, making 37 saves in getting the shutout. For LA, Cal Petersen was making his season NHL debut (he did play a handful of games for the Kings last season). He made 31 saves on 34 Devils shots for a .912 save percentage.

This was the Devils’ 500th game at Prudential Center. Fitting that they were playing the LA Kings, since that was the matchup for the first Stanley Cup Final in the building back in 2012.

The first period was not without its action, despite ending scoreless. There was a sequence where both teams rang a puck off of the pipe at each end before Blake Coleman was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway as he tried to bury one five-hole on Petersen.

The second period was where the action took place. It began with the game-winning goal 5:38 into the frame. It came when Coleman (who did not get an assist on this goal) took a shot that rebounded back to the point and Damon Severson. Severson saw Nikita Gusev setting up at the near faceoff circle. He passed, Gusev fired and, although Petersen got a piece of the shot, it went in to give the Devils the 1-0 lead. The goal was Gusev’s tenth of the season.

Almost two minutes later, at 6:12, Carl Grundstrom took a high-sticking call against Connor Carrick that put him in the penalty box for two. While on the power play, at 7:35, Kyle Palmieri had a shot blocked by Petersen. Wayne Simmonds found the loose puck and gathered it. He gave to Coleman near the far faceoff circle. Coleman ripped a shot by Petersen to make it 2-0.

This goal was Coleman’s 21st of the year to lead the team. Curiously, however, it was his first power play goal of the year. This is less surprising when you factor in that Coleman is only now getting serious power play time with the injury to Nico Hischier.

On the power play for the night, the Devils were 1-for-4 with seven shots. They also had a single shorthanded shot as well. Los Angeles was 0-for-3 with five shots. They added three shorthanded shots too.

The third goal of the period (and game) was a crazy one from a scoresheet perspective. Andy Greene took a shot from the point with Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri providing the screens in front. The puck pinballed in off of Hughes’ stick and Palmieri’s shin pad. Originally, the goal was credited to Hughes, but that was later changed to Palmieri. That made it 3-0 Devils.

The Devils nearly got into some penalty trouble late in the period. First, at the 12:12 mark of the second, PK Subban was called for interference. While the Devils were killing that off, at 12:37 elapsed in the period, Damon Severson hooked down Anze Kopitar on a breakaway. He was awarded a penalty shot, but Blackwood stopped that one to basically seal the deal.

Blackwood was busy in the third, but equal to the task and the Devils came away with their second shutout wins in as many games.

The Devils were again dominated in the faceoff circle, winning just 42-percent of the game’s draws. Travis Zajac led all centers with a 63-percent personal winning percentage.

The Devils did outhit the Kings, 22-18. They also had more blocked shots at 18 to LA’s six. The Devils had double the turnovers the Kings did at four to two.

Subban led all Devils skaters with 24:28 of ice time – including 3:10 on the PP and 1:58 on the PK. Pavel Zacha led the forwards with 18:05 total including 3:26 on the man advantage and 2:52 killing penalties.

Coleman led in shots on goal by a wide margin with seven (Palmieri and Gusev came closest with four). Hits were led by Zacha with four. Blocked shots by Greene with six and takeaways by Coleman with two.

The three stars of the night saw Blackwood again grab the top spot while Palmieri was the second and Coleman the third.

Next up, the Devils’ homestand continues as the Florida Panthers come to Newark on Tuesday. This will be another tough challenge for the Devils as Florida is currently (much like the Flyers) in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race. We will, of course, have coverage for you on Tuesday.