Devils Announce 2019 Preseason Schedule

The Devils today put out a press release outlining their 2019 preseason schedule.

Overall, they will play seven games, with three at home and four on the road. One of the road games and one of the home games will be a split squad game early in the slate.

The preseason opens on Monday, September 16 when half of the squad will head to Montreal’s Bell Centre to take on the Canadiens at 7 PM and the other half will stay at home in Newark to take on the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Bruins. That game will also be at 7 PM.

On Wednesday, September 18, the Devils will cross the Hudson to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. This will likely be the first meeting between the first and second overall picks in the 2019 NHL Draft (assuming both players are healthy, playing and the Rangers are not playing a split squad with their pick at the other location).

The teams will then move across the Hudson in the other direction on Friday, September 20 as the Devils will host the Rangers at Prudential Center at 7 PM. That will kick off a two-game preseason “homestand” for the Devils. They will also renew pleasantries with the Islanders at Prudential Center on Saturday, September 21 at 7 PM.

From there, the remaining games are on the road. They will travel north to TD Garden to take on the Bruins on Wednesday, September 25 at 7 PM to round out their two games with Boston.

They then travel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Friday, September 27 at 7 PM to finish off the preseason against the Blue Jackets.

Much as in the past, I would assume that the three home games plus the game at the Garden against the Rangers will be broadcast on MSG Networks. Of course, the TV schedule has yet to come out, but we shall see. Other than that, this gets the ball rolling as we quickly shoot towards the 2019-20 NHL season.

Devils Reveal 2018-19 Preseason Schedule

With the NHL’s regular season schedule being revealed this Thursday, the Devils decided to whet our appetite by revealing their 2018-19 preseason schedule today.

There will only be one home preseason game, the preseason opener against the Rangers on September 17. That will be a split squad game, as part of the team will also be up in Montreal at the Bell Centre playing the Canadiens a half hour later. (The Rangers game at Prudential Center begins at 7 PM while the Montreal game is at 7:30.)

Three days later, on September 20, the Devils will take on the Islanders in Brooklyn. On the 24, they will finish up the local part of their preseason schedule at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. Both New York games are at 7 PM.

On the 27th, they then travel to Western Canada to take on the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg. That game begins at 8 PM ET.

From there, the Devils have quite a bit of traveling to do. They will go from Winnipeg to Bern, Switzerland to take on SC Bern on October 1 (a Monday according to the Devils’ press release). This is part of the NHL Global Series Challenge and is still an exhibition game. The game will take place at PostFinance Arena at 1:30 PM ET here in the United States and 7:30 PM CET in Switzerland.

The press release mentions Nico Hischier (a native of Brig, Switzerland) and Mirco Mueller (Winterhur, Switzerland) getting to play in front of their countrymen for the first time as NHLers.

The Devils will then kick off their regular season in Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday, October 6 at the Scandinavium against the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop for that game is 1 PM ET. That game will be a part of the NHL Global Series.

Hall Strikes With Late Shorthanded Goal, Devils Win in Montreal

Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall acted as the Devils’ one-two punch in their 2-1 victory in Montreal. Photo: The Canadian Press (downloaded from TSN.ca)

The Devils are inching closer and closer to that elusive playoff spot. Tonight, they came away with a close one in Montreal, defeating the Canadiens 2-1 on a late Taylor Hall shorthanded goal.

The Devils now stand with four as the magic number: any combination of four points lost by the Florida Panthers (who were idle toinght) or won by the Devils will get them in. Florida does have two games in hand, but they come against teams like Nashville and Boston as well as Buffalo and Carolina. Not easy sledding for them, or for the Devils for that matter. The Devils just need to put their head down and go about their business and things will fall into place.

But first, tonight’s game. Some injury news to begin: Kyle Palmieri, who was clipped by an errant Andy Greene stick last night and was cut. The Devils wanted to take all precautions with him so he did not travel with the team to Montreal, however he was flown in once he was cleared and good to go. He wanted to play and was eager to be in the lineup. Also, some other good news as Marcus Johansson was cleared to play and taken off of injured reserve today. He was a healthy scratch for this game, along with Jimmy Hayes, Drew Stafford, Brian Gibbons and Damon Severson, as the coaching staff want to make sure he’s just right to get in. He did travel with the team to Montreal.

With Gibbons out, Jesper Bratt slotted back in at forward and with Severson out, Ben Lovejoy was back in on the blue line. Palmieri played on a line with Pavel Zacha and Michael Grabner while Patrick Maroon moved up to the top line with Nico Hischier and Hall.

In net, Keith Kinkaid made his third back-to-back start in as many weeks. He made 25 saves on 26 shots and was again brilliant at times. Opposing him was Carey Price, who tied Jacques Plante on the Canadiens’ all-time games-played list with 556. He was also fantastic for them, stopping 30 of 32 shots.

Special teams played a huge role in this one, as the referees certainly did not put the whistles away. The Devils ended the night 0-for-5 on the man advantage, with 11 power play shots. They also scored on their only shorthanded shot of the night, which we will get into in more detail later. Montreal was 1-for-4 on the power play with nine shots.

The Habs are on pace to finish with the fewest points by a Montreal team since the NHL went to an 82 game schedule in 1995-96. The Devils pushed the pace for most of the game, but things looked bad early on as Montreal got on the board first. It was the power play goal, scored at 19:51 of the first when Kinkaid drew a tripping penalty. Travis Zajac and Grabner were on a shorthanded 2-on-1 and Grabner’s pass was blocked, allowing Montreal to take the puck up the other way. Daniel Carr buried one from Arturi Lehkonen and Mike Reilly then.

But the Devils used their coach’s challenge, claiming offsides. The review was inconclusive to the linesmen who watched the replay, and, thus the call on the ice stood. It was a good goal and New Jersey was assessed a delay of game penalty. This was the first time coach John Hynes had tried to challenge for offsides against an opponent, but the Devils were right back on the penalty kill. Plus, they were down 1-0, the first time this season the Devils had trailed the Habs in regulatioin according to Deb Placey of MSG+.

The Devils had their chances to break through, but it was not until the third period that things would begin to click for them.

First, they tied things up 26 seconds into the third stanza. Nico Hischier scored from Sami Vatanen and Kyle Palmieri to even things up at one. Hall won a board battle in the far corner, pushing it towards Palmieri, who quickly wound it around the boards to Vatanen at the near point. He fired a quick one and Hischier, who was camped out in the slot, was able to get a stick on it and redirect it by Price.

The game was knotted up and for the next few minutes, it became the Nico Hischier show. He began by coming in on a breakaway midway through the third. Price stopped him as Nico elected to shoot instead of deking. A few minutes later, Nico would clang one off of the iron on another glorious chance.

But the game winner was set up by a penalty, or rather two penalties. Not to the Canadiens, but to the Devils. At the 13:45 mark of the third, the Devils were given a bench minor for too many men on the ice. That would be served by Hall (which would turn out to be a brilliant move on Hynes’ part). A little over a minute later, at 14:53, Lovejoy was called for cross checking Brendan Gallagher on a play in front of Keith Kinkaid’s net.

The Habs would have 52 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time and it looked like the game hung in the balance. The Devils would kill off the too many men penalty with Zajac blocking one final 5-on-3 shot by Montreal. He calmly gathered the puck and saw Hall coming out of the box. He saucered a pass directly to him, springing Hall for a breakaway. All alone in on Price, Hall beat him stick side to put the Devils up 2-1.

It was a well-timed play by both Zajac and Hall, and a nice one. Credit to the Devils’ PK unit for keeping the puck out of their own net. It was also a smart move by Hynes. Having a choice of who to put in the box for the bench minor allowed him to get his best offensive player, who does not generally kill penalties anyway, a jump start to come out of the box on a break. Zajac timed the block and pass so well and Hall was there to finish.

The goal came at 15:53 of the third with the only assist to Zajac. It was shorthanded, so the Devils still had the Lovejoy penalty to kill off, which they would.

With that shorty, the Devils notched their 12th shorthanded goal of the season, taking over the lead in the NHL.

Price would be pulled with about a minute left in the game, while Montreal was killing off a Nicolas Deslauriers slashing penalty, but were unable to tie things up. The Devils came away with points 92 and 93, putting them one behind the Flyers for the first wild card spot and seven ahead of the Panthers.

Statistically, the Devils won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs and out shot Montreal 32-26. They were out hit 40-18 by the Habs, but the Devils had more blocked shots with 17 to Montreal’s 15.

Greene led the Devils in ice time with 23:15 (inlcuding 45 seconds of power play time and 4:50 on the PK). He narrowly edged Vatanen, who had 23:06 of ice time. Vatanen did lead in shots on goal with seven, while Stefan Noesen and Zacha led in hits with three each. Greene and Mirco Mueller led the team in blocked shots with three apiece while Grabner, Lovejoy and Vatanen each had one takeaway.

So, next up, the Devils take on their rivals, the Rangers, Tuesday. While the Rangers are long out of the playoff race – having been eliminated the night the Devils beat the Hurricanes at home – you can bet that New York will be looking to play spoiler against the Devils. This will not be an easy one, but if the Devils come away with the two points, it will be very much worth it.

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Hall Extends Point Streak; Devils Hang on to Beat Habs

The New Jersey Devils had lost three in a row with a rough stretch of games staring them right in the face. There was this homestand where the Devils faced high-powered teams like Vegas and Winnipeg. And then there is the western road trip against Nashville, the California teams, Vegas and then ending in Pittsburgh that could make or break this season.

Coach John Hynes did not want to use the word “desperate” – saying that that sounded like the Devils were not in control – and preferred the term “urgent” instead. But simply put, the Devils needed this game tonight against a weak and depleted Montreal squad. They got the two points, defeated the Canadiens 6-4 following a late surge by the Habs.

It was a special night at The Rock as the Devils were honoring the women’s US Olympic hockey team who won gold in South Korea last month. The eleven members of the team that were there talked to young female hockey players before the game and were on the broadcast talking during the pregame and the first intermission to Deb Placey and Bryce Salvador of MSG Network. They also participated in a ceremonial puck drop between Devils captain Andy Greene and the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher and were there to generally promote women’s hockey. With Team USA defeating Canada for their first gold medal since 1998, the women’s game has never been stronger.

The Devils made some changes to their lineup with Jesper Bratt slotting back into the lineup (in for Drew Stafford) and back on the top line with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. Hynes switched up some of the lines with the second line consisting of Michael Grabner and Kyle Palmieri centered by Pavel Zacha.

The Canadiens were without the injured Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber (who will be missed for the rest of the season). They were also missing goaltender Carey Price to injury. In his place started Charlie Lindgren who stopped 27 of 33 shots faced.

For the Devils, Keith Kinkaid went as Hynes said that he wanted Cory Schneider to practice more to get some of the rust off of him. He also felt that Kinkaid deserved another start (his career high 28th appearance) in light of how he has played of late. He made 29 saves on 33 shots.

So with the Canadiens making their only trip to Jersey this year, the Devils were ready to go. It only took to the 8:25 mark of the first period for Stefan Noesen to get the Devils on the board, getting assists from Will Butcher and Travis Zajac. The goal came when Zajac won a battle along the boards in the far corner. He slid it to Butcher at the far point. Butcher fired a shot on goal that was tipped in front by Noesen to make it 1-0 Devils. As Ken Daneyko pointed out on the MSG telecast, it was all made possible by Zajac’s strong play along the boards.

Butcher’s assist on that goal would be his first point in 12 games. He had a good game and also took a puck to the face for which he would leave briefly to get repaired, but would return.

The Devils’ other Plano, Texas import, Blake Coleman, would give them their second goal at the 16:33 mark of the first off assists from Butcher and Brian Boyle. That one developed when Boyle came down the right wing and made a move to drive around the Montreal net, coming out from behind and giving the puck to Butcher at the far point. Butcher fired on net again (something Hynes said that the coaching staff had asked him to do more of) and Coleman buried the rebound to make it 2-0.

The Devils’ onslaught would continue in the first period as Zajac notched his first of two at 18:08 of the first from Palmieri and Sami Vatanen. That one came on the power play – set up when Jacob de la Rose was called for slashing. On that one, Hall stickhandled into the Habs’ zone along the near boards. He dished to Vatanen at the point. Vatanen gave to Palmieri at the top of the far faceoff circle. He fired, with Zajac tipping the puck by Lindgren with Patrick Maroon providing a screen in front. It was now 3-0 Devils.

The Devils would build up a 4-0 lead with Zajac’s second of the game. He scored with 12 seconds remaining in the first from Hall and Vatanen. This one also came on the power play, as Montreal’s Andrew Shaw had gotten a double minor for high sticking Greene and cutting him at the 19:39 mark. This one came when a faceoff was won back to Vatanen at the far point. He one-touch passed to Hall, who was set up at the other point. Hall fired on goal and Zajac cleaned up the rebound in the slot. That assist for Hall extended his personal point scoring streak to an amazing 26 games.

According to Steve Cangialosi on MSG, the last time Hall failed to register a point was December 30 at the Washington Capitals. He has scored a point in every game he has played in the 2018 calendar year. This was also the first time this season that the Devils had scored four goals in the first period of a game.

There would be some crossover penalty time into the second period, as only the first two minutes of the double minor were extinguished when New Jersey scored their second power play goal. Overall on the power play, the Devils were 3-for-5 with eight shots while the Habs were 0-for-2 with three shots on goal. The Devils power play had had some struggles, but now seems to be back on track somewhat.

The second period would see four more goals. The first came off the stick of Gallagher, who made a nice power move on Kinkaid’s net to make the score 4-1. He got assists from Jeff Petry and Paul Byron at 10:27 of the second.

Patrick Maroon had his first goal as a Devil. Brian Boyle also scored a goal on the night. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Devils would get that one back less than a minute later at 11:36 when Maroon scored his first as a Devil. He got assists from Hall and Palmieri on the power play to make it 5-1. It came when Hall won a draw back to Vatanen at the point. Vatanen faked a shot and passed to Palmieri at the near half wall. Palmieri found a nice seam to Hall at the far faceoff dot. He fired and the rebound came right to Maroon, who gobbled up the rebound and put it home to extend the Devils’ lead to four.

That was not all for the Devils’ scoring in the second, either. At 15:14, Brian Boyle scored from Coleman to make it 6-1. It came on the rush with Coleman trying to pass to a cutting Grabner in front of the net on a 2-on-1. Instead, the puck came to a trailing Boyle, who scored his first goal since prior to the All-Star break. The Devils had put up a half dozen on the Canadiens, but that was it for their offense on the night.

From there, it was the Habs who were in comeback mode. That started when de la Rose scored with 14 seconds remaining in the second period from Phillip Danault and Jordie Benn. It was 6-2 New Jersey.

In the third period, de la Rose would strike again, this time from Andrew Shaw and Mike Reilly at 14:40. The Devils’ lead was now cut in half at 6-3.

Byron Froese would score the final goal of the game at 19:01 from Daniel Carr and Reilly. On this one, the Devils did use their coach’s challenge to see if there was goaltender interference, but review showed that the Habs player was pushed into Kinkaid by the Devils’ defender which meant that the call on the ice stood: it was a good goal. It was now 6-4 Devils.

Monteal coach Claude Julien would pull Lindgren with about a minute remaining to get the extra attacker, but a well-timed clear and then some pressure from the Devils would result in a win, the 100th of John Hynes’ NHL career.

In the end, seven Devils had a multi-point night: Hall, Boyle, Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri, Butcher and Vatanen. Butcher was named the game’s third star while Hall was second and Zajac first, with two goals and an assist for three points.

Vatanen would lead the team in ice time with 23:26 total, including 3:10 on the power play and 1:24 on the penalty kill. Hall led in shots on goal with four. Boyle, Stefan Noesen and Ben Lovejoy all had three hits to lead the Devils. John Moore and Greene each had three blocks to lead in that category. Hall led in takeaways with two. The Devils won 52-percent of the game’s faceoffs.

Next up, the Winnipeg Jets come to Prudential Center on Thursday in the next stiff test for the Devils, who got points 75 and 76 tpnight. The Jets beat the Rangers tonight off a Patrik Laine hat trick. The Devils will then go on a two week road trip that will see then play some of the best teams, not only in the Western Conference, but in the entire NHL. Hopefully they can play well agaisnt Winnipeg and come away with at least a point in a crucial time in their schedule.

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Note: the photo of Taylor Hall at the top of this post is copyright Adam Hunger/Getty Images.

Devils Drop OT Game to Habs

It could have been a lot worse. The Devils fell in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre 2-1 after being shutout by Carey Price through two periods and part of the OT period. But it could have been a lot worse than it was. The news came down today that Taylor Hall is day-to-day following his knee-on-knee hit with the Kings’ Kurtis MacDermid and did not make the trip with the team to Montreal. The Devils did say that there was no structural damage and it was a knee contusion, so they did dodge a bit of a bullet there.

But the Devils were still missing most of their offensive firepower: Kyle Palmieri has resumed skating with the team, but is still some time away from returning from his broken foot; Marcus Johansson was placed on IR, eligible to come off on Saturday, with his bruised ankle and now Hall is day-to-day with the knee contusion.

Filling in for Hall would be Nick Lappin from AHL Binghamton. He became the first forward call-up this season for New Jersey (Scott Wedgewood was a goalie call-up earlier in the season before he got traded to Arizona). Lappin played the majority of the night on a line with Brian Boyle and Jimmy Hayes. Other than that, the lineup remained largely the same, with Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout being the healthy scratches.

Between the pipes for the Devils was Cory Schneider. MSG’s Deb Placey reported that John Hynes was strongly hinting that should Cory play well tonight, he would end up getting both games of the back-to-back (the Devils have the Dallas Stars at home tomorrow night). He did, making 34 saves on 36 shots on goal by the Habs. Montreal had Price going for them. He had had a rough outing in his last start on Saturday, being pulled in that game against Edmonton after giving up four goals. He ended up making 31 saves on 32 shots, including stopping three shots while the Canadiens were shorthanded, which included a breakaway by Nico Hischier.

Cory began the game with a nice glove save right off the bat on Max Pacioretty. The Devils also got on the board early, with Stefan Noesen scoring at 1:21 into the first period. That goal came when Montreal was on a delayed penalty and the Devils had pulled Schneider for the extra attacker. The Devils played with the puck in their own end until the play developed. Pavel Zacha finally made the outlet pass to Jesper Bratt and Bratt gave to Andy Greene just inside the Habs’ blue line. He pushed forward to Noesen in the slot, who fired a wrist shot top shelf to beat Price and make it 1-0 Devils.

But that was it for the Devils’ scoring for the night. Will Butcher hit the post late first period, the first of a few that the Devils would nick. Finally, at 13:31 of the first period, the Habs tied things up when Andrew Shaw scored his eighth of the season from Jordie Benn and Phillip Danault. Interestingly, the Devils will see Benn’s brother, Jamie, when they play Dallas tomorrow night.

The Devils had a nice opportunity to regain the lead early in the second period when Byron Froese was called for tripping at 2:52 and then Karl Alzner went off for slashing at 3:47. The Devils would have 1:05 of 5-on-3 power play time. New Jersey had a lot of zone pressure throughout the entire man advantage, but ultimately the Habs killed things off. Just following that power play, there was a mad scramble in front of the Montreal net where the Devils somehow failed to score.

Overall, on the power play, both teams went 0-for-3. But that is where the similarities stopped. The Devils fired five shots on goal during their power play attempts while the Devils’ penalty kill completely stifled the Habs power play. The Canadiens ended up with no shots on the power play for the game.

Following that 5-on-3, the Devils had an attempt to score, but Blake Coleman hit the iron. The Devils would end the second period with 13 scoring opportunities on 12 shots.

Midway through the third period, Hischier broke in on a 2-on-1 with Coleman and ended up missing the net completely. It was a frustrating reminder that the Devils were missing some of their best offensive weapons.

With no scoring through the two remaining periods, it was on to overtime. It was there, just 1:52 in, that a Devils breakdown in their own zone allowed Tomas Plekanec to score to give Montreal the full two points. He got assists from Charles Hudon and Alex Galchenyuk.

The Devils had escaped with one point, at least and they did so while missing a guy like Hall. They also kept pace in the Metropolitan Division, staying in third place and in a playoff position, but teams like Philadelphia are creeping up, so their next homestand will be very crucial.

Individual stats saw Steven Santini lead in ice time with 21:54 (just narrowly edging out Sami Vatanen’s 21:43), Damon Severson lead in shots on goal with five (he was also named the game’s second star for his efforts), Severson and John Moore tying for the hits lead with five hits each and Greene leading in blocked shots with four.

Next up, the Devils faceoff with the Dallas Stars tomorrow night at Prudential Center. Dallas has been in the metropolitan area for the last week, so they are already in New Jersey waiting for the Devils. They have gotten wins over the Rangers in a shootout and the Islanders in regulation. It should be an interesting matchup and, hopefully, the Devils can pull out two points tomorrow night in the backend of a back-to-back.

Devils Down Habs in Preseason Meeting

The Devils headed up to Montreal to take on the Canadiens tonight and came away with their second win of the preseason. The team got two goals from Jesper Bratt to lead them to a 4-1 win at Bell Centre.

Again, this game was not televised in the New York metro area, so I could not see it. I am going by stat sheets and highlights viewed on NHL.com to recap what happened.

The Devils goaltending saw Keith Kinkaid and Ken Appleby make the trip north of the border. Kinkaid went the distance, making 28 saves on 29 shots faced for a .966 save percentage. For Montreal, Carey Price was backed up by Zachary Fucale, but also played the entire game. He made 28 saves on 31 shots faced for a .903 save percentage.

Mirco Mueller scored his second of the preseason just 51 seconds into the first period taking a feed from Blake Coleman to make it 1-0 Devils.

It would remain that way going into the first intermission. In the second period, Montreal went on the power play when Stefan Noesen was called for interference at 5:40. On the ensuing man advantage, old friend Eric Gelinas, trying to catch on with the Habs, unleashed one of his blistering slap shots to tie it up at one. He got assists from Joe Morrow and Paul Byron. That came at the 7:09 mark of the second. On the night, the Canadiens were 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 0-for-5.

The Devils would retake the lead at the 15:30 mark when Nico Hischier tipped in a Taylor Hall shot to make it 2-1. Kyle Palmieri had the secondary assist. The Devils had the lead heading into the final frame.

New Jersey would get an insurance goal from Jesper Bratt, his first of the preseason, 9:10 into the third period. Noesen and Joseph Blandisi had the assists. It was now 3-1 Devils. Bratt would add an empty netter at 19:43 of the third to make the final 4-1. He got assists from Noesen and Marcus Johansson (his first point of the preseason) on that one.

Your three stars of the game came all from New Jersey: Taylor Hall (first), Nico Hischier (second) and Will Butcher (third). Hall had an assist and was a plus-1 with four shots on goal, one block and a take away. He also won 100-percent of the faceoffs he took in 20:40 of ice time (including 5:23 on the power play and 1:57 on the penalty kill). Hischier had a goal, was a plus-1, had three shots on goal, two hits, a block and won 50-percent of his faceoffs. He had a total of 18:41 of ice time and spent 4:05 on the power play and 2:26 on the penalty kill. Butcher was a plus-1 with a shot on goal and three blocks. He had 17:27 of total ice time (including 5:37 with the man adavantage and 1:08 killing penalties).

The Devils’ final stat line again looked good. They outshot Montreal, 32 to 29; won more faceoffs, 54-percent to 46-percent; had more blocks, 19 to 11 and less giveaways 6 to 9. They were outhit by the Habs, 44 to 20 and took two more penalty minutes than Montreal, but overall it looked good for the Devils.

Next up, the Devils welcome the rival Rangers into Prudential Center at 7 PM on Saturday. That one will be televised, on MSG+2. We will have a more detailed recap here on Saturday.

Canadiens Come Back to Deal Devils OT Loss

The Devils hosted the Montreal Canadiens tonight hoping to pick up a win to keep themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff race, a race that they are quickly falling out of with their current losing streak. And while they did pick up a point, they were unable to gain two as they fell to Montreal 4-3 in overtime. The Habs battled back from not one, but two two goal deficits in getting the victory.

It was Pride Night at the Rock tonight, as the Devils celebrated the LGBT community as all teams in the National Hockey League will or have done this season. It is part of the Hockey is for Everyone initiative. The team used special rainbow colored tape on their sticks during warmups and special t-shirts were sold in the arena.

In some roster moves, Pavel Zacha was put on injured reserve retroactive to February 21 due to his concussion diagnosis. Blake Coleman was recalled from Albany to fill in for him. PA Parenteau was also scratched, as he was injured when he was hit with a shot in the Rangers game, he finished that game but sat out this one. He is listed as day-to-day.

Another scratch for the Devils was Kyle Quincey, who was expecting to play when he got to the rink, but was told by General Manager Ray Shero that he was being held out because the Devils may be trading him prior to the March 1 trade deadline. The team did not want to risk him getting injured if they think they could deal him. Joe Blandisi slotted in for him. Seth Helgeson was the other healthy scratch for New Jersey while Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron and the newly-acquired from Dallas, Jordie Benn sat for Montreal.

The goaltending matchup saw Cory Schneider make 29 saves on 33 Canadiens shots for New Jersey. He had a .879 save percentage for the game. The Devils saw Al Montoya who made 34 saves on 37 shots for a .919 save percentage. The Devils have not seen Carey Price since the incident at Bell Centre when he pummeled Kyle Palmieri with his blocker. Price did sit on the Habs bench this time, instead of hiding in the tunnel. Montoya does not really see a lot of ice time, as his last win came on January 20 at Prudential Center against these Devils.

One other Devils injury occurred late in the first period, as Jacob Josefson was hurt then and did not return to the game. There was no word on what exactly happened to him yet.

For the Canadiens, if they were to lose in regulation to the Devils and the Senators beat the Lightning, Ottawa would take over the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Neither ended up happening, so the Atlantic Division standings remain the same for the time being.

The Devils got on the board first, scoring with just 19 seconds left in the first period. It came when Michael Cammalleri brought good pressure on the forecheck, getting Montreal defenseman Shea Weber to turn the puck over to Travis Zajac. Zajac then passed to Palmieri, who was cutting in towards the slot. He shot, beating Montoya to make it 1-0 Devils.

There were no goals in the second period, but Taylor Hall did have a partial breakaway late in the period that Montoya just got a piece of to put it over the crossbar. The Devils still had the 1-0 lead heading into the third period, and New Jersey is was 17-0-5 heading into this game when leading going into the final frame.

The Devils would finally double their lead at just 2:38 into the third. Joe Blandisi gave the puck to John Moore at the far point. Moore fired the puck, beating Montoya five hole to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Damon Severson had the secondary assist.

But in what would become a trend for the night, the Canadiens got the goal back just 11 seconds later. Alexander Radulov scored from Alexei Emelin and Jeff Petry at 2:49 to cut the New Jersey lead in half.

The Devils scored again at the 7:54 mark of the third to make it 3-1. This was set up when Coleman used his speed to steal the puck, split two Montreal defensemen and drew a hooking penalty on Phillip Danault at 7:48. It took just six seconds into the power play for Travis Zajac to win the offensive zone draw, get it back to the left point. It was sent across to Palmieri at the right point who shot on the net. Miles Wood tipped it on goal, and his rebound was gathered by Zajac, who backhanded it by Montoya to make give the Devils back a two goal lead. Both teams went 1-for-2 on the power play and the Devils power play has produced a goal in 9 of their last 11 games.

But this two goal lead would only last 43 seconds. Max Pacioretty scored his 30th from Nathan Beaulieu and Alexander Radulov to make it 3-2 Devils. That was the beginning of Montreal’s comeback. They would score three unanswered to ultimately win the game.

First, late in the period, Montoya made a big save on Stefan Noesen one-on-one immediately after Cory made a big save at the other end.

Montoya was then pulled with about 1:40 left in the game. Taylor Hall made a nice play as the Devils cleared, beating the Montreal player back to negate an icing call. But it was for naught as Pacioretty scored his second of the game with just under a minute left in the game from Weber and Radulov. The Habs had erased another two goal deficit to tie things up at three and force overtime.

The extra period started out good for the Devils, as John Moore had a nice end-to-end rush to try to end things for New Jersey. He did not score and eventually, Damon Severson was called for an accidental hook to set up a Canadiens 4-on-3 power play.

With the extra skater, Alex Galchenyuk finished things for Montreal, scoring from Weber and Radulov. Amazingly, Radulov had factored into all four of the Canadiens’ goals on the night.

Now, the Devils have to put their second straight OT loss behind them as they travel to DC to take on the very powerful Washington Capitals. And the Caps got even more powerful as news broke as the Devils-Canadiens game ended that the St. Louis Blues had sent star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington. That game comes on Thursday, March 2 following the trade deadline. We will see what the Devils look like as they take on the Caps at the Verizon Center on Thursday night.

Canadiens’ Power Play Sinks Devils

The Devils came in to their game against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens riding a modest three game winning streak. That streak, extended after a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Wild, came to an end tonight as a combination of sloppy play and a few calls against them led to a 3-1 Montreal win.

The Habs, who, like the Devils, are playing the front end of a back-to-back elected not to have a morning skate earlier today. This was partly in response to the back-to-back and due to injuries. The Devils will also be playing a back-to-back, as they have the Flyers tomorrow night.

The Devils lineup was much the same as it has been. Andy Greene and John Moore are still out with injuries, although Moore – who is suffering from concussion symptoms – did skate earlier today. The main differences were Cory Schneider and Jon Merrill being out with an illness. Cory was not feeling well and it was a noontime decision that he would not play tonight. Luke Gazdic and Sergey Kalinin were healthy scratches for New Jersey. Daniel Carr and Ryan Johnston were scratched for Montreal.

Karl Stollery and Blake Coleman, recent call ups from Albany who made their debuts for the Devils on the road trip, were making their Prudential Center debuts tonight. Both started the game for the Devils in a nice gesture by coach John Hynes.

Goaltending saw Keith Kinkaid start for the Devils since Schneider was out with an illness. He made 23 saves on 26 Canadiens shots. Starting for Montreal was Al Montoya, who made 16 saves on a paltry 17 Devils shots. Montoya last started and lost to New Jersey back in 2012, that is how good he has been against the Devils. Montreal’s All-Star goalie Carey Price spent the night in the tunnel behind the Habs’ bench. Speculation from the Devils’ announce team was that he just did not want to hear it from Devils fans after his attack on Kyle Palmieri a few weeks ago at the Bell Centre.

The Devils did not look good for the majority of the night, but they did get on the scoreboard first. That came at the 4 minute mark of the first period when PA Parenteau fired a shot from the near half wall. His rebound bounced out to Steven Santini who fired a seeing-eye shot that beat Montoya clean. Taylor Hall had the secondary assist. Toronto checked the goal to see if Hall or Travis Zajac tipped the puck in with a high stick. The replay showed that neither player touched the puck, let alone touched it with a high stick. It was a good goal, as the call on the ice stood. Santini’s shot beat Montoya clean to make the game 1-0 New Jersey.

But from there, the Canadiens took over. Or, more specifically, the Canadiens’ power play took over. At 4:46 of the first, Miles Wood took a slashing call against Alex Galchenyuk. He broke Galchenyuk’s stick, almost necessitating the slashing penalty. And Galchenyuk made them pay. He scored at 5:14 from Alexander Radulov and Nathan Beaulieu. That tied things up pretty quickly. The Devils had just three shots in the first period and had scored on one of them, but they took a penalty and let the Habs back into it. This would be a recurring theme throughout the night.

A scary moment in the first period as Beau Bennett lost his footing near the Montreal bench and went face first into the boards. He was okay, however, and did not leave the bench.

The second period featured no scoring, but did feature a few nice defensive plays by Blake Coleman and Jacob Josefson that stopped sure Montreal goals.

The turning point of the game came just 28 seconds into the third period. Nathan Beaulieu skated along the boards in the Devils’ zone and stopped, trying to reverse the play. As he suddenly stopped, Karl Stollery tried to finish his check. He did not stop in time and knocked Beaulieu down a few feet from the boards. He received a boarding call, which was the correct call. What was controversial was the fact that he was given a five minute major for boarding.

In the ensuing scrum that saw Beaulieu’s teammates come to his aid, Torrey Mitchell took a roughing minor against Stollery. So that left two minutes of four-on-four and then, when the Mitchell penalty expired, three minutes of 5-on-3 play.

Montreal immediately capitalized when Shea Weber scored his eleventh from Radulov and Galchenyuk at the 3:01 mark to make it 2-1 Canadiens. But Montreal was not done there. Because it was a major penalty, Stollery stayed in the penalty box for the remainder of the penalty, allowing the Canadiens to score at will.

And, sure enough, at 4:23, Max Pacioretty scored his 21st of the year from Galchenyuk and Radulov. Galchenyuk and Radulov each had three points (a goal and two assists for Galchenyuk and three assists for Radulov) on the night. Galchenyuk was named the first star of the game, Radulov the second and Weber the third star by attending media.

The Devils pulled Kinkaid with 2:33 left in the game and they did get some good chances in close on Montoya, but it was not enough. Time ran out and the Devils fell to the Habs 3-1.

Next up, the Devils travel down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia to play the Flyers. The team will not get a morning skate in tomorrow as the Villanova University basketball team has an afternoon game at the Wells Fargo Center (the Flyers skate at their practice facility). The Devils will hopefully use the time to rest and regroup, getting back on track. The majority of their final games are against Metropolitan Division foes, particularly the Penguins and the Flyers – both of which they see five times this season, as opposed to four for the other Metro teams. As John MacLean pointed out on the MSG+ postgame show, how they play against the Pens and the Flyers will go a long way to settling their post season fate. That begins tomorrow for the Devils.

On a side note, due to a previous commitment, I will be a little bit late on my post for tomorrow’s game. I will be recording the game and hope to have it up sometime by Sunday.

Devils Drop Bizarre One in Montreal

The Devils knew coming into their game at the Bell Centre versus the Montreal Canadiens that the going would be rough. What they did not know was just how strange the going would get for both teams.

The Canadiens, one the of the National Hockey League’s best teams at home this year, had 1,999 wins at home in their history, covering their time in the NHA (the predecessor to the NHL) and the NHL – and going back to their time at the Montreal Forum prior to moving to the Bell Centre. Would they come away with win 2,000 tonight, or would the Devils steal one from a team that has been almost unbeatable on home ice?

This would be the Devils’ lone trip to Montreal this season, as the Habs come to Newark for their two other meetings.

The Devils would be getting a bit of a break, it would seem, as two of Montreal’s top centermen, Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais were out of the lineup with knee injuries. The Devils were still without Pavel Zacha on the injury front. Healthy scratches for both teams were Greg Pateryn (Montreal) and Jacob Josefson and Jon Merrill (New Jersey).

Things did not look good coming into tonight as the Devils were 1-2-2 in their last five road games and Montreal is 5-0-2 in their last seven meetings with New Jersey.

The man who would try to reverse those trends for the Devils was Cory Schneider. He would end up making 44 saves on 49 Canadien shots. Most of those shots were hard ones to handle down low and down near the net, not from the perimeter.

Opposing Cory down the rink was Carey Price. The Habs’ goaltender, one of the best in the NHL right now made 19 saves on 21 Devils shots. But it was his temper that would play a big part in the game as we shall see later on.

Coach John Hynes started Devante Smith-Pelly and Michael Cammalleri (both former Habs) on the wings to begin the game. Smith-Pelly was making his return to the Bell Centre as a Devil, the first since his trade back last spring. Cammalleri needs one more point to reach 600 for his NHL career.

A wild first period got underway when Phillip Danault scored to make it 1-0, Montreal. Nathan Beaulieu and Andrew Shaw had the assists at 12:49 of the period. Immediately after the goal was scored, Toronto reviewed the goal and said that the goal was not scored off of a high stick, so the officials made that announcement. But, immediately after that, Hynes decided to challenge for goaltender interference. The replay – especially the overhead camera above the crease – showed that although Cory’s glove hand was bumped by the Canadiens’ player, impeding his chance to make the save, his glove hand was actually outside his goal crease, making it harder to call goalie interference. The goal stood and it was still 1-0 Montreal.

But the Devils would strike back when, at 16:19, Taylor Hall came out of the near corner, passing to PA Parenteau along the goal line. He fired a shot from the weird angle and Adam Henrique, crashing the net, buried it home.

Once again, Toronto took a look at it and said that Henrique did not kick the puck into the net, so the goal stood as far as the NHL command center was concerned. But Montreal coach Michel Therrien then decided to use their challenge saying Henrique had interfered with Carey Price. The referees conferred and referee Kelly Sutherland made the announcement that the puck was already entering the net prior to Henrique interfering with Price, so it was a good goal.

With that, both teams had used their coach’s challenges, lost and given up their timeouts.

Almost immediately after Henrique’s goal, the Canadiens retook the lead when Torrey Mitchell scored his first of two on the night at 17:15 from Brendan Gallagher and Zach Redmond. It was 2-1 Montreal and things were about to get controversial.

Following the goal, Kyle Palmieri was crashing the net on what seemed like a routine play. He was nudged from behind by the Montreal defender and fell, sliding into Price’s knee (a knee that was injured last season – causing him to miss almost the entire season). Price, taking umbrage to his knee being taken out as it was, immediately started throwing punches to Palmieri with his blocker. One punch connected to Palmieri’s head while the other three landed on his ribs.

In the end, the Devils would come out with a power play, as Palmieri was given two minutes for goalie interference while Price received a double minor for roughing.

Where the controversy comes in is that, according to a graphic shown on MSG, citing rule 51.3 in the NHL rulebook, Price should have actually received a match penalty (and been tossed from the game) due to hitting Palmieri in the head with his blocker with intent to injure. Price was not thrown out, and in fact the incident occurred at an opportune time for the Habs goalie. The penalties were called at 19:42, essentially giving him the intermission to cool down and not do anything else stupid.

As mentioned, though, the Devils would have the majority of their power play on fresh ice in the second period, although they would not convert it. Price may be looking at further discipline from the NHL down the road, although, as Palmieri pointed out in the post-game interviews, it will not help the outcome of this game.

After all of that, the first period took almost an hour to play in real time due to the challenges and the officials’ conferences.

The lone goal of the second period saw Artturi Lehkonen putting Montreal up 3-1 when he scored from Shaw and Danault at 9:59.

The third period saw the Devils fall further behind when Max Pacioretty intercepted a Devils’ clearing attempt just 45 seconds into the frame and beat Cory to give Montreal the 4-1 advantage. The goal was unassisted.

The Devils would make things a little bit more respectable when Torrey Mitchell was called for holding against Palmieri at 2:46. Palmieri made a good play to take the penalty in the Montreal zone, as he kept his legs moving throughout the play.

With the Devils now on the power play, Palmieri fired a shot from the far faceoff circle. The rebound came out to Henrique and he gathered it, making a nifty backhand pass to Taylor Hall, who was sneaking in behind the play. It was now 4-2 Montreal. On the night, the Devils were 1-for-3 on the power play while they kept the Habs 0-for-2 with the extra attacker.

But any hope the Devils would have at another Nashville-style comeback were dashed when, at 15:49, Mitchell scored his second of the game from Gallagher and Paul Byron to make the score 5-2.

And that was how it would end: 5-2.

The Devils will now look to get back on the winning side of things as they head home for a rare Prudential Center game in December. They will face the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night, making this the back end of a back-to-back.

Also, congratulations to Albany Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky, who was recently named to the ECHL Hall of Fame.

Devils Edged in Montreal, 2-1

The New Jersey Devils were coming off of a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings and traveled to Montreal to try to take advantage of a weakened Canadiens club.

Many, including MSG+ analyst Ken Daneyko felt that the Habs were vulnerable. In part because they had not played at home since December 17 (Cirque du Soleil had set up shop in Bell Centre for the holidays) and in part because of a frustrating loss of their own to the Flyers last night.

Things did not go as planned, though and the Devils fell by a score of 2-1, taking the season series from New Jersey.

The injury bug has hit the Devils, as David Schlemko was hurt in practice yesterday and Tyler Kennedy was injured during the warmup for this game. Eric Gelinas and Tuomo Ruutu would be inserted into the lineup. One of the biggest injury hits to the Devils was John Moore going to the locker room in the first period. Moore is a power play specialist and a key part of the Devils’ special teams. Add them to the list that includes Patrik Elias, Jacob Josefson and Mike Cammalleri. Although Cammalleri is expected back for the Boston game on Friday at Prudential Center.

In some positive news for New Jersey, this game represented the 600th career game for captain Andy Greene and his 270th consecutive game. Congratulations to the captain, as he is a truly inspirational story: an undrafted player who has gone on to mean so much for his team on and off the ice.

Getting the start between the pipes for the Devils was newly named All-Star Cory Schneider. He would manage 23 saves on 25 shots. In net for Montreal was Princeton University product Mike Condon, who is still filling in for injured Carey Price and who is coming off of the 5-1 defeat of the Boston Bruins in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. He stopped 19 of 20 Devils shots on the night.

The Devils nearly got out of the first period without giving up a goal to the opposition, but with just a minute left, Max Pacioretty tipped a Tomas Plekanec shot by Cory to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. PK Subban had the secondary assist. The goal was a power play goal for Montreal when the Devils were assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 17:57.

To add to that situation, the Canadiens would be going into the second period with almost an entire power play when Bobby Farnham was called for interference against Devante Smith-Pelly. Nothing came of that, but Montreal would have the all-important fresh sheet of ice.

Devils’ coach John Hynes actually used his coach’s challenge on that first goal, claiming goalie interference, but the replay showed that Pacioretty was not in Cory’s crease and did not interfere with him sufficiently enough to overturn the call on the ice. The Devils would be charged their timeout for losing the challenge.

The second period was a wild one. First, Ruutu was sent to the box for tripping just 5:45 into the period. During the Montreal power play, Travis Zajac was able to break up a play and sprung free on a breakaway. Subban was called for hooking trying to slow him up and went off at 6:45 to make it 4-on-4 for one minute and then give the Devils a power play for one minute. No scoring occurred on any of that.

Then, at 16:31, Jordin Tootoo was seemingly trying to clear a broken stick out of his path when he shot it accidentally at David Desharnais. Desharnais was awarded a penalty shot, but missed the net high and wide. Tootoo said later that he knew the rule and was just trying to move the stick out of the way. He had no intention to shoot it at Desharnais. It was the fourth penalty shot Schneider has faced this season so far.

Late in the second, Montreal’s Smith-Pelly took an interference call, putting the Devils on the power play. However, it was not the Devils who would benefit, but the Habs. Torrey Mitchell tipped a Paul Byron shot past Cory and Montreal was up 2-0 with the shorthanded goal.

The third period was where it seemed the Devils had broken through. Fifty seconds into the period, Mike Sislo dug the puck out of the corner and gave to Lee Stempniak along the boards who moved it to Greene at the point. The captain fired and the puck was redirected by Adam Henrique past Condon to cut the lead in half. It was the first Devils goal since the overtime winner against Dallas on Saturday.

But Montreal would seemingly answer right back. About three minutes later, Plekanec scored to give the Canadiens a 3-1 lead. However, the goal was immediately waved off on the ice, the official saying it was played with a high stick. The replay from Toronto would confirm the call on the ice and it stood. The Devils had dodged a bullet.

It was not to be, though. The Devils would pull Schneider late in the third, but were never able to get things going and when an icing call was negated with seconds left on the clock, time simply ran out on New Jersey’s comeback.

But, banged up as the Devils may be, it’s no rest for the weary. They have the Boston Bruins at home on Friday. How will the Devils respond to two straight regulation losses? Will Mike Cammalleri be back in the lineup for New Jersey? These questions will find their answers on Friday.