The Devils finished up a three-game road trip in St. Louis tonight, an arena that they had not won in since December of 2008.
And although this did not seem to be a recipe for the Devils coming away with a “W” (the Blues have not lost a whole lot in regulation at home this season), get that “W” the Devils did. They defeated the Blues 7-4 to put together their first two-game winning streak of the 2022 calendar year. They have also scored seven goals in back-to-back games.
The Blues were well-rested. They had not played since January 29, before the All-Star break. The lineup from Tuesday that got Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme fired, was completely intact. Lines largely stayed the same.
Janne Kuokkanen, Marian Studenic and Christian Jaros remained the Devils’ healthy scratches.
Jon Gillies got his second straight start, his first back in St. Louis after being traded to the Devils from the Blues back in December. Although his memories in St. Louis may not run that deep, getting his second win as a Devil still has to feel good.
He made 27 saves on 31 total Blues shots for an .871 save percentage. He stopped the Blues’ lone shorthanded shot and all four of their power play shots. St. Louis was kept 0-for-4 on the man advantage. At even strength, he stopped 22 shots out of 26.
Opposing him was Jordan BInnington, who made 22 saves on 27 total Devils shots. He finished the night with an .815 save percentage, stopping the Devils’ lone power play shot in the process. New Jersey went 0-for-3 on the power play as a team. At five-on-five, Binnington was 21-for-26.
The Devils, as mentioned, had not won in St. Louis since December 2008, but their last win over the Blues actually came in the team’s last meeting on March 6, 2020 at Prudential Center. That was a 4-2 Devils win that was, as per MSG’s Steve Cangialosi, Cory Schneider’s last game with the Devils and, to date, his last game in the NHL.
The Devils got the scoring started 2:12 into the game when New Jersey worked the puck down low to Andreas Johnsson, who took a shot at Binnington. Binnington made the save and the puck was partially cleared by a Blues player. He did not get all of it, however, and it made its way to PK Subban at the point. Subban stepped into the loose puck and blasted a shot that beat Binnington cleanly (albeit with Dawson Mercer acting as a screen in front).
Subban got the credit for the goal, unassisted, and it was 1-0 Devils.
New Jersey doubled up their lead later in the period at 15:07 gone by when Michael McLeod took a pass from Damon Severson in the Devils zone. He turned up ice, speeding up the left-wing side. As he cut in on the Blues’ net, he was hooked down by Robert Thomas. A delayed penalty was called, but McLeod stayed with it, moving slightly around Binnington to deposit the puck around him to negate the delayed penalty and give the Devils the 2-0 lead. Jimmy Vesey had the secondary assist.
Exactly 30 seconds after the McLeod goal, at 15:37 gone, St. Louis cut the Devils lead in half.
Their answer came when the Blues kept the puck in the Devils zone and worked it to Torey Krug at the point. Krug passed to Oskar Sundqvist down low, who quickly moved it to Klim Kostin, all alone in the slot. Kostin scored to make it 2-1, the score that would take us into the first intermission.
For the Devils, the second period looked like it may become their downfall again.
It began 5:13 into the middle frame when the Devils actually won a faceoff in their own zone. They were unable to move it out of the zone, however, and it was turned over to Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly passed back to Colton Parayko at the point. He shot and Gillies fought off the blast. The puck then just kind of plopped down next to the near side of the net with Gillies not aware of its position. Brayden Schenn won a foot race to tap it behind it Gillies and that tied the score at two.
The Blues would take the lead on a strange one about ten minutes later.
At the 15:03 mark of the second, Pavel Zacha tried to attempt a breakout for the Devils, passing the puck through the middle of the ice instead of just working it out past New Jersey’s blue line.
The puck was intercepted at the blue line by Justin Faulk and he shot on the Devils net. The shot hit the post and trickled behind Gillies. It was initially called a no goal on the ice as the puck did not seem to completely cross the goal line.
A review from the Situation Room in Toronto showed that it did, in fact, fully cross the line and the decision was overturned very quickly. The puck had gone over the goal line on its edge so most TV replays did not do a good job of showing it cross, but it did count. The goal came unassisted for Faulk. St. Louis now had a 3-2 lead to take into the third period.
In the third, the Devils came alive.
Just 9:08 into final period, Nico Hischier took a fast zone breakout pass from Ty Smith. Nico was hit in the very middle of the ice with Smith’s pass and broke in with Yegor Sharangovich on a 2-on-1. Hischier made a great backhand pass to Sharangovich, who finished the feed to tie the game up at three.
Hischier would notch one of his own at 11:34 gone by when the teams were playing at 4-on-4.
A few seconds before, at 10:59, the Blues’ Niko Mikkola had hit Jesper Boqvist along the left-wing boards in the neutral zone. It was not a dirty hit by any means, but Boqvist was rocked for a second.
Mercer stepped in to come to Boqvist’s aid and he and Mikkola tussled a bit but did not fight. Both went off for roughing and the teams were set to play at 4-on-4.
Sharangovich had given the puck to Subban, who carried the puck up the right side into the St. Louis zone. Sharangovich went towards the Blues net while Subban made a cross-ice pass to Hischier after PK sold his own shot to draw the Blues defenseman towards him.
Nico took the pass and finished, putting it behind Binnington, who could not get across his crease fast enough to stop Hischier’s shot. That gave the Devils back the lead at 4-3. It also extended Nico’s goal-scoring streak to three games.
Vesey would give New Jersey a two-goal cushion at 17:41 gone by in the third period. The Devils had just finished killing off a penalty a few seconds prior and Vesey took the puck from Jonas Siegenthaler in the Devils zone. Vesey then skated the length of the rink, making a nice move around the Blues’ defense, moving to his backhand as he moved to the right. He got a lot on the shot and it blew past Binnington to make it 5-3 Devils. Zacha had the secondary assist.
That Vesey insurance goal would prove to be very valuable as St. Louis scored at the 18:17 mark.
Krug got the puck to Pavel Buchnevich, who weaved the puck up the rink towards the Devils zone.
He took it himself deep and then centered to Schenn in the slot. Schenn reached out and tapped the the Buchnevich pass by Gillies to make it 5-4 Devils.
Things were getting tight and the Blues pulled Binnington right after play restarted off of Schenn’s second goal.
Jesper Boqvist iced the game here by scoring into the empty Blues net off assists from Severson and Gillies (the Devils goaltender’s first point in a New Jersey uniform). It was then 6-4 Devils.
Following that empty netter, Binnington was pulled a second time, allowing Hischier to score his second goal of the game on a rare second empty netter to finally give us our final of 7-4. Sharangovich had the lone assist on the goal.
For the second game in a row, the Devils had scored seven goals on their opponent.
The Blues narrowly outshot the Devils 31-29. The Devils won 55-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Zacha leading the centers with a 62-percent personal winning percentage.
The Devils took ten penalty minutes total as team while the Blues amassed eight.
Although the reason Mason Geertsen was playing his second straight game – his first back-to-back games in the lineup since the end of December – was largely to counter the Blues as a “heavy” physical team, the Devils were still massively outhit 25 to four.
St. Louis edged New Jersey in blocked shots with 14 to the Devils’ 12. The Blues had 15 team giveaways while the Devils had seven.
Ice time saw Severson log 24:39 total (3:06 of power play time and 3:12 of PK time) while Ryan Graves led the defensemen in shorthanded time with 4:34 logged out of his 21:41 of total TOI.
For the forwards, Hischier led in total time with 19:07 logged (including 2:54 on the PP and 2:43 on the PK).
Hischier (two goals, one assist, three points), Vesey (one goal, one assist, two points), Sharangovich (one goal, two assists, three points), Severson (two assists) and Subban (a goal and an assist, two points) all achieved multi-point nights.
Shots were led by Siegenthaler who had five. Severson had two hits to lead in that category. Jesper Bratt had two blocks to lead that column. Personal giveaways were led by Graves with three while personal takeaways were led by McLeod with five.
Next up, the Devils return home for a game on Super Bowl Sunday with the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1:30 PM.
We will have a recap of that game for you up right after the MSG+ broadcast. After that, we’ll settle in to enjoy some football and, possibly, savor a Devils win over a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, just as they achieved tonight.
Until then, enjoy the rest of the week everyone!