The Devils traveled up to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut today for an afternoon preseason tilt against the New York Islanders. The Isles scored early, the Devils tied it late and the Devils won in overtime 2-1.
The game was being played in Bridgeport, home of the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders (they rebranded this past offseason with the parent club’s identity – a Lou Lamoriello special), because they are done with the Nassau Coliseum and the new UBS Arena does not open until mid-November. The Isles will begin their regular season on the road for the first month or so.
The Devils made some cuts this morning, as per team reporter Amanda Stein. Ryan Schmelzer a forward, defensemen Jeremy Grodleau and Michael Vukojevic and goaltender Marek Mitens were all assigned to the AHL Utica Comets. Groleau and Vukojevic played on Friday versus the New York Rangers while Schmelzer and Mitens had AHL-only contracts. Utica’s camp begins on Monday, October 4.
In net for this game, Mackenzie Blackwood made his preseason debut, playing the first period in net for New Jersey. He finished with a .938 save percentage, giving up one goal on 16 shots against. Scott Wedgewood took over in the second frame, stopping all eight shots he faced. The Isles totaled 33 shots against Devils goaltending.
For New York, Ilya Sorokin played the first two periods getting all 11 thrown his way. Former Devil Cory Schneider, trying to make his way back to the NHL with the Islanders faced two shots – including in overtime, which he played – and let in both.
The Islanders got on the board just 3:23 inot the game when Kieffer Bellows scored off of a 2-on-1. He broke in after getting the puck from Mat Barzal and snapped a shot off himself, one which beat Blackwood to make it 1-0 New York. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist.
And then Islander low-event hockey settled in for the majority of the game.
The Devils would eventually break through when Mark Jankowski scored at the 15:45 mark of the third period. Jankowski shot quickly off the rush, beating Schneider under the blocker to make it 1-1. The Devils finally broke through via the rush, which is the best way to beat that Islander low event hockey, as we saw for many years here in New Jersey. Aarne Talvitie had the lone assist on Jankowski’s goal.
One thing to note is that Jack Hughes did not play much in the second period and did not play at all in the third. Nothing was given as to a concrete injury or anything. It is possible he was just rested on the back end of the back-to-back with a day game after a night game. He got his reps in and was done. We will try to update should any injury be announced.
The overtime proved two things: one I was right about a strong transition game beating low event hockey and two, Yegor Sharangovich continues to play very well.
It developed very quickly, as suddenly, Sharangovich was racing up the right-wing boards and roofed a shot by Schneider to give the Devils the win in OT and remain unbeaten in the preseason. The goal came unassisted 3:35 into the OT period.
(I am sorry about lack of details on the goals. I was watching the stream supplied to the Devils’ official website by the Islanders. Which was the feed from the Webster Bank Arena in-arena boards and did not show replays. It was either see everything initially or risk having less detailed notes. I went with the less detailed notes as I could not get everything as it was happening.)
Once again, as last night against the Rangers, the teams decided to forego the shootout practice, of which they have the option after every preseason game, no matter the outcome.
So that was that with the Devils coming away with the 2-1 victory, the Isles handed their first loss of this preseason.
Team-wise, the Devils finished 0-for-5 on the power play while the Isles were 0-for-3. That is all of the stats I am seeing on the NHL.com scoresheet, so I am sorry this is incomplete.
In the limited player stats available, Sharangovich led the Devils in shots on goal with five.
Now that this nightmare of a recap is in the books, I will tell you that the Devils next play in Newark on Monday against the Washington Capitals. That game will not be televised over the air in our market or Washington. I would suppose that the Devils will stream the scoreboard feed, but who really knows.