Cammalleri’s Two Goals Power Devils Shutout in Ottawa

The Devils had not won two straight games since before Thanksgiving. Were they to do that tonight, they would leapfrog the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings and move within striking distance of the Rangers in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

With a little help from Mike Cammalleri and Cory Schneider, they got just that. The Devils defeated the Senators in their final game of the 2015 calendar year and head into 2016 on a positive note.

Starting with some injury news, Jacob Josefson was a healthy scratch for yesterday’s game against Carolina and was taking some extra time at practice when he was hit in the foot by an Eric Gelinas shot. He was placed on the injured reserve today retroactive to December 26. He joins Patrik Elias who is on IR retroactive to December 21. To fill in the roster spot left by Josefson, Mike Sislo made his season debut, called up from Albany.

The Devils also announced that they have signed Mackenzie Blackwood, their second round pick (42nd overall) in last summer’s Entry Draft, to a three year entry level deal earlier today. He is currently 1-0 with Team Canada in the World Junior Championship, having served his suspension from the Ontario Hockey League. Congratulations to him and it looks like the Devils goaltending ranks are shored up for some time to come.

Speaking of goaltending, tonight’s game featured a great matchup. Cory Schneider got the start for New Jersey, playing brilliantly at times in making 36 saves for his third shutout of the season and his 20th in his career. Facing him for the Sens was “the Hamburgler” Andrew Hammond. He ended up seeing 20 shots and making 18 saves.

The Devils got things started with three straight power plays in the first period. First, Chris Wideman went off for tripping at 4:51, then Kyle Turris for holding at 7:19 and then Chris Neil for charging at 10:30. Ottawa was able to kill off two of the three, with the only goal coming during the Turris penalty.

On that play, the Senators won the faceoff deep in the Devils’ zone, only for Mike Cammalleri to break up the play at the blueline and take the puck all the way to the Senators’ goal, where he beat Hammond glove side, low at 9:11. It was 1-0 Devils all on the efforts of Cammalleri. That goal was unassisted, but he had more to come.

At 18:08, Travis Zajac dug the puck out of the corner, feeding Cammalleri at the top of the near faceoff circle. Cammalleri fired and beat Hammond with a slapshot, stick side. Two goals for Mike Cammalleri, Devils up 2-0, and that was all they needed.

Ottawa pressed all night, but kept running into a wall known as Cory Schneider.

In a relatively penalty filled game, no one was on the scoresheet more than Bobby Farnham. He had a scrap with Max McCormick at 16:49 of the first and then went off for embellishment at 14:13, after seemingly being clipped on a hip check by Erik Karlsson. He left the game briefly and the penalty was served by Stefan Matteau. The call was a strange one at first, but understandable since that is what the officials saw. According to a post-game interview on MSG+ with Deb Placey, Farnham said he was just trying to get out of the way of Karlsson, trying to avoid a knee-on-knee hit.

The Devils had seemingly weathered the storm when late in the third; Ottawa pulled Hammond to go up the extra man. Then at 18:48, John Moore took a holding call and the Senators had a 6-on-4 advantage with the goalie still pulled. Cory was able to keep the Devils out of trouble and, because of the fact that they were killing a penalty and there was no icing, it was open season on the empty net. Lee Stempniak took advantage and potted an empty net, short-handed goal at 19:44 to seal the deal for New Jersey.

With the Devils 3-0 win, they moved ahead of Ottawa for the final wildcard spot in the East and within one point of the Rangers, who were not finished with their game at the end of the Devils game, for third place in the Metro Division.

Coming up for the Devils though is their first game of 2016. And what a way to ring in the new year, with the Dallas Stars coming to Prudential Center. In what will be a true test for the Devils, they will faceoff with the best overall team in the NHL. Will the Devils be able to continue their upswing? Tune in Saturday night to find out as the Devils take on the Stars.

Hurricanes Blow by Devils in Raleigh

Coming off of the Christmas break, the Devils wanted to build on their victory in Detroit just prior. They would kick things off with a home-and-home series against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Devils and their fans, they could not get anything going and lost to the ‘Canes, 3-1.

The hockey day got started with Team USA beating Devils-prospect John Quenneville and Team Canada 4 to 2 in the World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Pavel Zacha and the Czech Republic also fell to Russia 2-1 in a shootout. Another Devils prospect, goaltender Scott Wedgewood, is currently serving a suspension, but will be playing for Team Canada. There are conflicting reports, but Zacha might have been injured in the game against Russia.

The first half of the home-and-home against Carolina saw no major changes for the Devils’ lineup. Patrik Elias is still out with a knee injury. Stefan Matteau and Jon Merrill were healthy scratches.

In net, Cory Schneider made 22 saves on 25 shots for the Devils, while the Hurricanes’ “old reliable” Cam Ward went 19 for 20 on the night.

The first period saw no highlights except for one of only two penalties called all game: Eric Staal of Carolina, two minutes for slashing only 35 seconds into the game. The other penalty occurred 3:34 into the third and saw the Devils’ Jiri Tlusty take a tripping call against his former team.

The scoring got kicked off 9:57 into the second when the ‘Canes’ Brett Pesce got credited for a goal with assists to John-Michael Liles and Joakim Nordstrom. It appeared that Carolina’s Andrej Nestrasil got a piece of the puck on the way in, but Pesce got credit for it and it was 1-0 Hurricanes.

The Devils would tie things up 1:18 into the third when Adam Henrique got the puck in deep into the Carolina zone to Kyle Palmieri, who played give and go with Mike Cammalleri behind the net and scored on a wraparound. The game was tied and Palmieri had a career high-mark for goals in a season (15). He never scored more than 14 for the Anaheim Ducks previously.

Carolina would break the stalemate at the 8:17 mark of the third when Justin Faulk scored his 13th of the season (and first non-power play goal of the year) from Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg. The goal came off of a broken play at the Carolina blueline and the Hurricanes were able to capitalize.

The ‘Canes would add an insurance goal at 16:46 of the third when Nordstrom connected on a slapshot to bury the puck behind Schneider. Faulk got the assist for a multi-point night as well (both he and Nordstrom had a goal and an assist each).

The Devils will try to put this behind them when the Hurricanes travel to Newark on Tuesday for the other end of the back-to-back – although it is only a home-and-home for the Devils, the ‘Canes travel to Chicago to play the Blackhawks on Sunday, in between the games against New Jersey.

How will the Devils respond? Will they finally be able to get some traction on this season? They need some points fast, as following the Hurricanes game; they play at Ottawa (who are right in the playoff race with the Devils) and then have the Dallas Stars, one of the Western Conference’s best teams. Hopefully, they can pick up the points and move forward in their playoff hopes.