Five Minutes of Wild Action Doom Devils

This one was tough for the Devils, you cannot deny that. After going up 2-0 early, New Jersey fell to the Minnesota Wild 4-2 off of three goals that all came within less than five minutes of each other in the second period. The loss handed the Devils their second straight loss and marked another game where the Devils greatly outshot their opponents only to fall in the end.

On the plus side for the Devils, Taylor Hall extended his point scoring streak to 20 games total and, officially, his 13th straight game as recognized by the NHL.

The Devils last met the Wild back on November 20 and won that game in overtime. They were looking to sweep the season series with Minnesota for the second straight year.

Roster-wise, Cory Schneider did not skate this morning, but that was by design not indicating a setback (as per Deb Placey of MSG Network). He, however, will not be not be available for this weekend. But while Cory is still out injured, the Devils got Miles Wood back from suspension for this game. He returned and would notch an assist tonight on the Devils’ second goal.

Another injury involves Drew Stafford. The veteran forward was a scratch tonight with what the team is calling a lower body injury. Blake Pietila was a healthy scratch, Mirco Mueller was back in on D as the Devils rolled with eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Also, Jesper Bratt was moved to right wing (he has played both wings this season) on a line with Wood centered by Pavel Zacha.

Alex Stalock made a nice save on Nico Hischier in the third that all but sealed the game for Minnesota. Photo: VIncent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

It was a battle of the backups in goal. Eddie Lack went for the Devils and made 21 saves on 24 shots, although with an empty netter, Minnesota ended the game with 25 total shots. Alex Stalock gave Devan Dubnyk a night off and made 38 saves on 40 Devils shots. Stalock would make a save on Nico Hischier late in the third period to save the game for the Wild. Hischier was wide open in the slot and Stalock did the splits across the crease to get his glove on the puck and get a piece of it to knock it away. That goal would have tied things for New Jersey and was a big save by Stalock.

As mentioned, Taylor Hall continued his point streak when he opened the scoring for the Devils. It came on the power play at 10: 27 while Eric Staal was off for tripping. Kyle Palmieri worked along the half wall with the puck before giving it to Sami Vatanen at the point. Vatanen found Hall all alone at the far faceoff circle with time and space. Hall shot, going top shelf just under the cross bar and in. That made it 1-0 Devils and extended Hall’s streak.

And that would be how they would go into the first intermission. On the evening, the Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Wild were 0-for-2. The Devils had one shot while Minnesota fired three with the man advantage. Hopefully, this jumpstarts what has been an anemic power play for the Devils over the last couple of games.

In the second period, Stefan Noesen would pad the Devils lead at the 4:17 mark, putting them up 2-0 off assists from Travis Zajac and Wood. Wood got the puck down low and centered in front to Zajac, who shot and the rebound came out to Noesen to the left side of the net. He shot and put it home. The Devils, who had outshot the Wild 18-6 in the first period, seemed totally in control.

Then came a period of about five minutes that the Devils would just like to forget.

It began at 7:28 of the second when Mike Reilly scored from Nino Niederreiter and Matt Dumba to cut the Devils lead in half, 2-1. That goal was even strength but came just after a Wild power play ended. It was deflected in in front off of John Moore’s stick.

Minnesota would tie things up at 12:25 also just after a Devils penalty expired when Joel Eriksson Ek broke free of a check to get a stick on a pass from Daniel Winnik. Mikael Granlund had the secondary assist. The game was now 2-2.

Thirty-nine seconds after that, at 13:04, Chris Stewart scored from Nick Seeler to give Minnesota the 3-2 lead. And that would prove to be the game winner.

Late in the third period, after Stalock’s big save on Hischier, Vatanen made a big stop on Mikko Koivu, who had an empty net and whose goal would have put things away for the Wild. It was a nice play, but it was for naught.

The Devils pulled Lack with about 1:30 left in the game, but a shot from the point went wide, wound around the boards to Charlie Coyle who got it to Eric Staal. Staal put the puck into the empty net and iced the game for Minnesota. Final score: 4-2.

Stats saw Vatanen lead in ice time with 22:19 (Hall was second with 21:33 due to being double shifted with the eleven forwards/seven d-men, while Minnesota’s Ryan Suter led the game with an amazing 31:40). Palmieri led the game in shots with seven. Hits were a three-way tie with Noesen, Ben Lovejoy and Mueller all registering two apiece. Lovejoy and Andy Greene both had two blocks to lead in that category. Zajac, Wood and Damon Severson each had a takeaway to lead that stat. The Devils recently worked on faceoffs at practice according to John Hynes and it showed. They won 64-percent of the game’s total draws.

So next up, Saturday and Patrik Elias night. They will be facing the Islanders in a big divisional game with a team that scores a lot, but also gives up a lot of goals. I will be attending this game live and, so, my post on it will be up a little bit later. If you are watching on TV, remember, the ceremony begins at 6 PM on MSG+. See everyone on Saturday.

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Note: the photo at the very top of this post is via Steven Ryan of Getty Images.

Henrique With Three Points as Devils Beat Minnesota in OT

Coming off of a hard loss in Winnipeg, the Devils rolled into the “State of Hockey” in a good state. They felt that they worked hard and played well against the Jets, but got a few bad breaks and ended up losing the game. They rebounded tonight with a 4-3 overtime win over the Wild with the game winner coming off the stick of, who else? John Moore.

The Devils, on this road trip, were 1-1-1, including the games in Chicago, Toronto and Winnipeg. They would have some changes coming to the lineup with that lackluster record. Adam Henrique was shifted to a line with Blake Coleman and Brian Gibbons while Pavel Zacha slotted back into the lineup. He had been told by coach John Hynes about what the coaching staff and management wanted to see from him and he would come back in after sitting for four games. He would play the wing tonight. Jimmy Hayes, Stefan Noesen and Dalton Prout were the healthy scratches. Noesen slotted out with Zacha back in.

Minnesota had gotten off to a rough start, but have been playing well of late. One of the reasons for that was their goaltender, Devan Dubnyk who had a shutout streak last week that eclipsed 195 minutes. The Devils would not be seeing Zach Parise, who is out long-term after having back surgery. He will likely be out until February. The Wild are also below .500 on the road, but play above .500 at home at the Xcel Energy Center. This was the Devils’ fifth game already this season against Central Division opponents.

The Devils got the scoring started when Adam Henrque buried his fourth at 18:32. When Hynes put him on the fourth line, he was looking to light a fire under Henrique. It would pay off tonight. The goal happened when Gibbons came up the left wing and fired the puck. Henrique redirected it, and it ping-ponged around the Wild crease until Dubnyk ended up putting it in himself after he had seemed to settle it down. Andy Greene had the secondary assist on that goal that made it 1-0 New Jersey. The Devils would take that lead into the first intermission, marking the first time they had done that on this road trip. Minnesota was 2-7-0 this year when allowing the first goal of the game.

In the second period, the Wild would tie things up just 1:32 in when Nino Niederreiter scored on the power play. Steven Santini, who had quite a game, went off for hooking Jason Zucker and the Wild would capitalize. Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu had the assists on that goal.

After Santini took a second penalty, he would also get the Devils back the lead in the second period. It happened when Santini got the puck at the far halfwall and whipped it on net. It beat Dubnyk and the Devils had the 2-1 lead. The goal was unassisted. Santini had a very eventful second period and revealed during a second intermission interview with Deb Placey of MSG that today was his mother-in-law’s birthday. As it is also former Devils player, coach and broadcaster John MacLean as well as yours truly’s birthday, I figured I’d wish her a happy birthday here.

The Devils went into the third period with a 2-1 lead and would pad that lead a little bit at the 7:19 mark of the third. It came off of the stick of Will Butcher and was quite a bit more impressive than his first NHL goal scored in Winnipeg. It came when Henrique gained the Wild blue line with the puck. He dished aside to Butcher, who had joined the rush when a delayed penalty was about to be called on Minnesota. Butcher ripped one high glove side to beat Dubnyk and give the Devils a 3-1 lead. Ben Lovejoy had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils had a chance to nearly go up 4-1, when Kyle Palmieri hit the post with a wide open net midway through the third period. That is also about the time the game began to get more and more chippy. The teams were pushing and shoving after every play it seemed.

Minnesota cut the Devils lead down to one when Mikael Granlund scored his first of two with this one coming on the power play. Miles Wood was serving a holding the stick penalty against Eric Staal and Granlund would score at the 11:14 mark of the third off assists from Jared Spurgeon and Koivu. Overall, the Wild were 2-for-4 on the power play with eight shots while the Devils were 0-for-2 with four shots.

The Devils seemed to have things in hand but that missed opportunity for Palmieri would come back to bite them when Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau pulled Dubnyk with 2:30 remaining in the game. Granlund would tie things up at the 18:24 mark, his second of the game from Ryan Suter and Staal. The Devils were unable to win the defensive zone faceoff and Granlund connected and the game was tied up at three.

Once time ran out, we were headed to OT. The Devils did not want a repeat of last week in Toronto and, in fact would not get it. Just 52 seconds into the three-on-three session, Taylor Hall stickhandled the puck through the Minnesota zone and back out to the neutral zone, delaying so the Devils could get a full change. He gave to Henrique, who had just come on the ice. Henrique skated into the Wild zone, and connected on a beautiful pass to a trailing John Moore. Moore, of course, buried it to give the Devils the 4-3 win. It was Moore’s sixth overtime goal (all with the Devils) and moves him to within two of Scott Niedermayer’s team record for OT goals by a defenseman.

The goalies had a good game for both teams, especially Cory Schneider. Schneider made 33 saves on 36 Wild shots in getting the win. Dubnyk stopped 21 of 25 shots on goal. John Moore was the game’s first star while Mikael Granlund was the second and Will Butcher the third.

Individually for the Devils, Andy Greene continued to be a minutes eater, logging a team high 22:05 tonight. Hall led the way with four shots on goal and, in a rugged game, Santini was the leader in hits with four.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Boston Bruins the night before Thanksgiving. The Devils currently stand in first place in the Metropolitan Division, and the feeling among some is that if you are in a playoff position by Thanksgiving, you usually make the playoffs. Time will tell on that, but in the meantime, we will have Wednesday’s game right here for you.

Devils Win in Minnesota in Come From Behind Fashion

Before it began, Taylor Hall called this trip “critical” to the Devils’ season. If it was, the Devils certainly answered the bell. With tonight’s 4-3 win in St. Paul over the Minnesota Wild, the Devils have crawled back to one game over NHL .500 and took seven of a possible eight points on their latest western sojourn.

Minnesota recently took over the top spot not only in the Central Division, but in the Western Conference when they defeated Chicago. They had put together a twelve game winning streak earlier this season and had not lost in regulation since Columbus did it back over New Year’s. So what the Devils did tonight was no small feat. Simply put, the Wild are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

The Devils did it without Yohann Autvitu and John Moore, who are still on injured reserve. Andy Greene and Vern Fiddler are also still out with their injuries. Luke Gazdic, Seth Helgeson and Sergey Kalinin were the Devils’ scratches for the evening as the lineup was largely the same as the one iced in Vancouver. Minnesota scratched Nate Prosser.

The goaltending matchup was a dandy, as two of the best right now squared off. In goal for the Devils was Cory Schneider. He made 32 saves on 35 Wild shots on goal. Minnesota countered with a guy, in Devan Dubnyk, who is a candidate not only for the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie, but also the Hart Trophy as league MVP. His 1.78 goals against average and .940 save percentage coming into tonight are tops in the league. He made 22 saves on 26 Devils shots.

Cory kicked off the game with two amazing saves with a little bit of help from the post and defenseman Damon Severson. But later on in the first, the Wild were able to break through as Jared Spurgeon batted the puck out of the air and behind Schneider at 17:58 to give Minnesota the 1-0 lead. Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu had the assists on that. That goal came on the power play when Devante Smith-Pelly was in the box for roughing Spurgeon. Minnesota was 1-for-3 with the man advantage. The Devils converted on their only chance.

It remained that way going into the second period. Jason Zucker began the second by firing a puck over the Devils net, an early narrow miss for the Wild. He would not miss at 9:24 when his goal from Mikael Granlund and Koivu gave Minnesota the 2-0 lead. That goal began with a stolen puck in the neutral zone and ended with New Jersey being down by two.

The Devils’ comeback began when Koivu was called for hooking Pavel Zacha at 12:33. And, much like the Minnesota power play goal, it was the guy who drew the penalty who also converted on it.  Karl Stollery had the puck at the point and gave it to Kyle Palmieri who was streaking along the boards. Palmieri quickly passed cross-ice to Zacha who buried the one-timer to cut the Minnesota lead to one, 2-1. That goal came at 13:19 of the second. That was Zacha’s first goal since November 25.

From there, it was back-and-forth as both teams traded odd man rushes. Later in the second, it would seem that the Devils had tied things up when the Devils were killing a penalty and got a chance shorthanded. Adam Henrique’s shot seemed to be in, but replays showed that the puck had not completely crossed the goal line. The call on the ice stood, no goal.

But Henrique would get his goal just 5:23 into the third frame. Taylor Hall took the puck in the neutral zone, protected it and made a nice pass to Henrique, who was bolting down the left side. He skated into the Wild zone and fired, beating Dubnyk short side. The game was now tied up at two.

But a few minutes later, at 9:08, Erik Haula would score a similar goal to Zucker’s to give Minny the lead back, 3-2. Charlie Coyle and Spurgeon had the assists on the goal.

So now the Devils were fighting from behind again. They would begin the comeback less than 30 seconds after Haula’s goal. At 9:30, Damon Severson threw the puck into the near corner. Michael Cammalleri retrieved it and sent it to Palmieri on Dubnyk’s glove side. He jammed at it and celebrated, although the call was initially no goal on the ice. The officials conferenced and reversed their call and the game was now tied at three.

The game winner would come at 17:43 when Blake Coleman skated the puck into the near corner. He then connected on a nice pass to Beau Bennett in the slot. Bennett ripped a shot by Dubnyk and the Devils were suddenly in the lead, 4-3 with just about two minutes left in the game. The primary assist was Coleman’s and it was his first NHL point. Miles Wood had the secondary assist.

The Devils would weather a last onslaught from Minnesota, including pulling Dubnyk for the extra skater. Cory came up big in the last few moments and the Devils had taken another win from a Western Conference contender.

This game has to be a huge confidence builder for New Jersey. To go into the Xcel Energy Center and beat one of the top teams in the NHL is no small feat.

Next up, the Devils return home to take on the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens on Friday. That will be the beginning of a back-to-back – they travel to Philly Saturday night. It is another tough test for a team with playoff aspirations, but one that they have to feel that they can now overcome after this road trip.

Devils Topple Wild in OT on Hall GWG

Getting off to a 1-2-1 start, the Devils knew they needed to start picking up some points in short order. It turns out that their second home game of the season was just what the doctor ordered.

The Devils began the day by dedicating the Martin Brodeur statue “the Salute” outside of the Barnabas Health Hockey House and the Prudential Center. The current team gathered around the statue and had their picture taken. Later on in the evening, former Devils goaltender and current NHL Network personality Kevin Weekes would be on hand to emcee the official dedication including Devils brass and the man himself, Martin Brodeur on hand. The dedication was filmed and broadcast in the arena on the jumbotron for fans who could not be out on the bleachers set up around the statue.

Once all of the festivities were out of the way, the task of playing the game between the Devils and the Wild was at hand. Minnesota’s Zach Parise, the former Devils’ captain, got his customary boo’s every touch of the puck and things were under way at the Prudential Center.

The Devils also honored another former captain, as Scott Stevens was back in the house as an assistant coach with the Wild. He got a video tribute and a nice standing ovation from the crowd.

Devan Dubnyk got the call in net for the Wild, making 30 saves on 32 Devils shots. Cory Schneider for the Devils made 28 saves on 29 Minnesota shots and was again his usual stellar self.

After a scoreless first period, the Wild got on the board very early in the second period when 1 minute into the second frame, Joel Eriksson Ek scored off an assist from Jason Zucker. The puck was kept in at the Devils’ blueline and a shot eluded Schneider as he was trying to cover up. It sort of popped up over him and into the net as it was chipped in by Eriksson Ek.

The Devils were down 1-0 but still had plenty of time.

At 11:56 of the third period, PA Parenteau tied things up when the Devils dug the puck out of their own near corner by Travis Zajac, headmanning to Parenteau, who quickly gave to Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri gave the puck back to Parenteau on a 3-on-2, who fired the puck from the top of the faceoff circle on the rush, beating Dubnyk to tie it at one.

And that was how it would stay through regulation. The Devils were headed to overtime for the second time this season and the first time since their season opener in Florida (which they lost).

Taylor Hall was brought in partly because of his work in the OHL with Adam Henrique. They had yet to really click at the NHL level, but they would connect tonight. It only took 29 seconds into the extra session for Hall to end it. After a Wild turnover in the Devils’ zone and a rush up the ice, Hall and Henrique criss-crossed up the ice with Hall dropping the puck to Henrique just inside the Wild blueline. Henrique found Hall in the slot and he fired five-hole, beating Dubnyk and winning the game for the Devils 2-1.

Every game the Devils have played this season, win or lose, has been by one goal. This game was no different, but it was a good one for the Devils. Hall showed exactly why the Devils gave up so much for him, as he scored the game winner once the puck was put on the tape of his stick. He knew exactly what to do with it and looked good doing it. The team also got a win against a very good team, which has to up their confidence.

Next up for the Devils, their homestand continues on Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have not had a good start to their season and could be low-hanging fruit for the Devils. Hopefully, the team can score a few more goals to make things a little bit less nerve wracking for fans.

Devils Explode for Seven Goals, Defeat Wild

Coming off of the blowout loss the Devils suffered in Anaheim, it would be easy for a club to get down on itself. But this 2015-16 Devils club has been nothing short of resilient all season long. So it should really come as no surprise that they would follow up getting annihilated by the Ducks with a slew of goals of their own in their next game.

The Minnesota Wild came to town fighting for their own playoff spot in the Western Conference. Like the Devils, they play in a tough division (the Central) and have a very similar record to New Jersey with 75 points. By contrast, the Devils came into the night with 73 points.

The game being played on St. Patrick’s Day, of course, the Devils would suit up in their red-and-green retro uniforms. The Wild also wearing red-and-green made for a very unique uniform matchup color-wise. This was the second time this season that the Devils have pulled out the old retro jerseys, losing to the Flyers the first time back in February.

The Devils would try to pick up points number 74 and 75 with a victory tonight. Missing that opportunity would be Seth Helgeson, Jacob Josefson, Cory Schneider, Jordin Tootoo and David Warsofsky, all scratches for the Devils. A scratch of note for the Wild was former-Devil Ryan Carter.

Keith Kinkaid was back in net for New Jersey, getting back into it after being chased in Anaheim. He would make 28 saves on the night, facing 32 shots. The Wild would counter with Devan Dubnyk, who made just five saves on his eight shots faced before being pulled in favor of Darcy Kuemper who went 13 for 17.

After the debacle against the Ducks, the Devils wasted no time getting on the board. Just 43 seconds into the game, Travis Zajac skated the puck through the neutral zone and dished off to Tyler Kennedy after crossing the Wild blueline. Kennedy tried to stuff the puck in backhand and it trickled out to Devante Smith-Pelly who took a few whacks at it, finally burying it to give the Devils a quick 1-0 lead. It was Smith-Pelly’s fifth goal in six games as a Devil and sixth goal in his last seven and he would not be done.

The Devils doubled their lead less than a minute later when Mike Sislo chipped the puck into the Minnesota zone, was able to create a turnover, fired from the slot and put his own rebound home. It was his first NHL goal at 1:34 into the first period and he would not be done either.

The Devils took the first penalty of the game when Jon Merrill went off for tripping, leading to the Wild getting on the board when Nino Niederreiter scored his 17th of the season from Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon. It was now 2-1 Devils.

But before the period was out, Reid Boucher would readjust the Devils lead to two goals when Merrill fired a shot from the far point, Dubnyk would have trouble with a Kyle Palmieri shot and Boucher would slam the rebound home to move the Devils ahead 3-1. This was where Minnesota coach John Torchetti decided to pull Dubnyk in favor of Kuemper.

The second period was more of a scoring bonanza. Smith-Pelly put the Devils up 4-1 at 2:57 of the second when he took a pass from Kennedy, who was behind the Minnesota net, drew Kuemper out of position and fired it into an empty net. This was Smith-Pelly’s second goal of the night, as he has just been on fire since becoming a New Jersey Devil.

The power play would again come back to bite the Devils when Merrill again went off, this time for interference against Niederreiter at 9:32, putting the Wild a man up. Minnesota would convert on this one too, wasting no time by scoring at 9:42, when Spurgeon scored from Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter. The Devils lead was now cut to two again, 4-2.

But the Devils would respond. First, at 12:06, the Devils’ forecheck, powered by Smith-Pelly created a turnover that Joseph Blandisi pounced on, finding Adam Henrique in the slot. It was an easy layup from there and it was 5-2 New Jersey.

Less than a minute later, at the 12:44 mark, the Devils would make it 6-2 when Blandisi took an outlet pass from Damon Severson. Blandisi gave to a trailing Sislo just inside the Minnesota blueline and Sislo sniped one just under the crossbar to put the Devils up 6-2.

The Devils would be sitting pretty when Minnesota’s Jason Zucker took a goalie interference call with just under 30 seconds left in the second period. The Devils would have the bulk of their man advantage with fresh ice to start off the third. Nothing would come of it, as New Jersey would go 0-for-1 on the power play on the night. Minnesota went 2-for-3, a weak showing for the Devils penalty killing unit.

That opportunity passing the Devils by seemed to have come back to haunt them when, at 4:41, Justin Fontaine scored for the Wild from David Jones and Erik Haula. It was 6-3, Devils, but you can never keep a team like Minnesota out of a game with their skills and scoring ability.

The Devils, however, had a tonic for that: score another goal. At 7:52 of the third, Kennedy took an outlet pass and dropped it for Smith-Pelly (who would go on to be named the night’s number one star) just inside the Wild blueline. He slapped a pass to Henrique right in front of the Kuemper’s net. Henrique put it home to give the Devils a 7-3 lead.

But the teams were not done yet. At 15:55, Koivu scored from Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise (who heard his share of boo’s from the Prudential Center crowd over the course of the night) to make it 7-4, New Jersey.

Although the Wild would pull Kuemper with about three minutes left in the game, they were not able to come back. The Devils had one of their finest offensive nights of the season in the form of a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild.

In the final tally, Devante Smith-Pelly had two goals and an assist, Mike Sislo had two goals (he was named second star), including his first NHL goal, Tyler Kennedy had three assists (he was named third star) and Adam Henrique had two goals. Even the Wild got in on the act, as Mikko Koivu had a goal and an assist in a losing effort.

The Devils looked good tonight, but they face another test in a home-and-home, back-to-back against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have given the Devils fits this season and when they meet in Columbus on Saturday, they will look to continue their winning ways. They follow that game up with a 5 PM matinee start on Sunday at Prudential Center following the game on Saturday. The schedule is not kind to the Devils this month, but they need to take it a game at a time, which is a cliché, but a cliché for a reason. These next two games will be crucial for the Devils going forward.

Devils Win Wild One in Minnesota

The Devils traveled to St. Paul to begin their longest road trip of the season against the Minnesota Wild, trying to end a three game losing streak. It was a cold day in Minnesota (as was evident to anyone who watched the Minnesota Vikings-Seattle Seahawks NFL playoff game from earlier today), but the Devils had been in St. Paul since yesterday to prepare for their tough Central Division opponent.

The Devils got some good news with David Schlemko and Tyler Kennedy returning to the lineup. In addition, Joseph Blandisi was called up from AHL Albany to fill in a spot on the second line wing. He played on a unit with Adam Henrique and Lee Stempniak.

Eric Gelinas and Stefan Matteau were healthy scratches for New Jersey, while John Moore is still out with the injury suffered in Montreal a few games back.

Cory Schneider got the nod for the Devils again, making 17 saves on just 18 Minnesota shots faced. In goal for the Wild was backup Darcy Kuemper, making his first start since December 21. He had suffered a concussion and was not available since then. He made 15 saves while the Devils peppered him with a measly 17 shots.

On the topic of shots, the Devils would hold the Wild to no shots for 19 minutes spanning the first and second periods. It was definitely a defensive struggle, but there were flurries of offensive chances. NBCSN analyst (the Devils were playing their one and only nationally televised game tonight) Pierre McGuire attributed it to puck possession and the Devils ability to not turn over the puck. He praised the Devils new style under John Hynes and said that they are not passively waiting in the neutral zone for a turnover, but attacking.

There was no scoring throughout the first two periods, but the second period saw a nice scrap between Jordin Tootoo and ex-Devil Ryan Carter. Tootoo won the fight decisively. It was set up earlier with some physical play by Tootoo. Tootoo will often try to use his fights to wake the Devils up and get them going. It would take another period, but the Devils would respond.

The first goal of the game came unassisted when Blandisi took a breakout pass from Stempniak. Blandisi lost the puck briefly and the Minnesota clearing attempt was intercepted by Henrique, who wristed one by Kuemper. The Devils had a 1-0 lead just 1:21 into the third.

Then the power went out. Literally.

NBCSN had technical difficulties that kept fans from seeing the next two goals. They cut to the studio and then live look-ins of Detroit-Anaheim and Edmonton-Florida. When the feed came back in, it was 2-1 Devils as Zach Parise (from Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter) had scored for the Wild and defenseman Jon Merrill had scored what would become the game winner for the Devils (from Sergey Kalinin and Kyle Palmieri).

For Parise, it was the first goal he had ever scored against his former team in four career games against New Jersey. He has now scored against every team in the National Hockey League.

The Wild would pull Kuemper twice, but would never be able to sustain an attack in the Devils’ zone with the extra man. The Devils held on for a 2-1 win, snapping their losing streak and coming away with two points. This got them back into the second wildcard playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 47 points, moving ahead of Tampa Bay and tying them with Boston in points (although the Bruins have three games in hand).

The Devils have clawed their way back into a playoff spot. If they can stay where they are or improve while they weather the injury storm, they will be in good shape.

But things do not get any easier for New Jersey. Up next, they head to St. Louis on Tuesday to take on the Blues, another strong Central Division team. The Devils lost to the Blues back in November at Prudential Center. They then face Colorado on Thursday and Arizona on Saturday. These are tough opponents and this is a rough stretch of the schedule. Once the team gets healthy, they will hope that they have picked up some wins in this, the “Dog Days” of the NHL season.