Devils Beaten by Montreal in Shootout

The Devils had not lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven straight games. They were facing the Habs for the third time this year and, due to the flu, were missing Carey Price. They would get Charlie Lindgren instead, a goalie they lit up the last time they saw him. All signs pointed to a New Jersey win tonight. Instead, they squandered a three-goal lead and lost 5-4 in a shootout.

The flu bug, as mentioned, had hit the Canadiens. They were missing, in addition to Price, Jordan Weal and Victor Mete who were both ill. PK Subban was out for the Devils also with an illness while Nico Hischier – who left the Dallas game in the second period to receive stitches in his knee, and then returned to finish the game and score the game-tying goal – was out tonight. The Devils were also without Sami Vatanen, who got injured on Saturday while blocking a shot.

Both Hischier and Vatanen are listed as day-to-day.

Because of this, there were some vacancies in the Devils’ lineup. Missing two defensemen and a forward, Mirco Mueller slotted back in on D along with Colton White, who was recalled from Binghamton of the AHL. Up front, Joey Anderson, also called up from Binghamton and making his New Jersey season debut tonight, replaced Nico. Also, with Hischier out, Jack Hughes moved up to center the top line between Jesper Bratt and Kyle Palmieri. Anderson skated on the fourth line with John Hayden and Kevin Rooney while on D, White was on the third pairing with Connor Carrick. White wore number 2 while Anderson moved from 49 to 14.

As mentioned, Lindgren was in net for Montreal. This was the third meeting between these teams this year and the third Canadiens goalie between the pipes. The Devils saw Keith Kinkaid in the first game and Price in their second meeting back on Thanksgiving night in November.

Lindgren made 20 stops on 24 Devils shots for an .833 save percentage. The Devils had Louis Domingue making his second straight start and he turned aside 32 of the 36 shots he saw for an .889 save percentage on the night.

Miles Wood kicked off the scoring 9:17 into the game when Bratt got the puck up ice and Wood touched it and it got away from him. He then beat Canadiens’ defenseman Christian Folin to the loose puck and shot from a weird angle almost at the goal line. The puck beat Lindgren to make it 1-0 Devils. Mueller had the secondary assist on the goal.

It remained 1-0 through the first intermission and, 1:51 into the second, Palmieri doubled the Devils lead. This came on the power play as Montreal’s Shea Weber was off for tripping. Palmieri had drawn this penalty and then, about five seconds in, Blake Coleman tapped a puck won off the faceoff back to Damon Severson at the point. Severson found Palmieri cutting backdoor towards the net and made a nice tape-to-tape pass to him. He then sniped one by Lindgren to extend the Devils’ lead to 2-0.

Immediately following the faceoff following the goal, at 1:54, Dale Weise and Hayden got into it, drawing the first fighting majors of the night.

Following two nice saves from Domingue midway through the second at around the 6:23 mark, Bratt made it 3-0 Devils. At 6:44, with play at four-on-four (an Artturi Lehkonen tripping call and a Severson hook set this up), Bratt made a slick backhanded pass to Will Butcher through the neutral zone. Once in the Montreal end, Butcher slipped one to Pavel Zacha, who then found Bratt trailing. Bratt was in alone on Lindgren and kind of flubbed a wrist shot that somehow trickled by Lindgren to triple the Devils lead. It was not pretty, but to paraphrase MSG’s Steve Cangialosi, it will look like the hardest shot in the world in tomorrow’s box score.

The game’s second fight came at the 12:29 mark when Nick Cousins of the Habs looked to spark them by fighting Rooney.

And spark them it did.

The comeback began when Joel Armia scored unassisted and shorthanded at the 13:08 mark of the second. It came off of a Palmieri turnover in the neutral zone. Max Domi had gone off for slashing at the same time as the fight, putting New Jersey on the power play and the Devils got a little bit sloppy. Armia, with Severson on his back, skated into the Devils’ zone and banked a shot off of the post and in to make it 3-1.

The Habs would cut the Devils lead to one at 17:06 of the second when Nate Thompson got the puck just inside the Devils blue line. He then skated in on Domingue, cutting towards the net and protecting the puck with his leg as he drove in on Butcher. He beat Domingue and it was now 3-2 Devils. Ryan Poehling had the lone assist on the goal.

Domingue ended the second period by making a nice point-blank glove save on Domi, but the Canadiens had the momentum as we headed off to the third period.

Just 7:22 into the third, Cousins scored to tie the game at three. It happened when Domi barreled into the Devils zone and created a turnover deep. Brett Kulak, a defenseman, jumped up to get the puck to Cousins in front of the net. Cousins scored to tie the game.

Montreal would take a 4-3 lead when Folin scored at the 9:35 mark of the third. This one occurred when the Habs pressured the Devils in their zone, not allowing them to clear. Folin got the puck at the point and wristed one that redirected off of Travis Zajac’s stick and a leg in front, bouncing around and into the Devils’ net. Tomas Tatar had the primary assist while Phillip Danault had the secondary on the goal that made it 4-3 Montreal.

But the Devils were not done either. Domingue was pulled with just over a minute to go in regulation. Then, at 18:51, the Canadiens got hit with a too many men on the ice bench minor setting up a potential 6-on-4 advantage for the Devils.

They won the faceoff in the Montreal zone and Domingue took off for the bench. The Devils had the two-man advantage and, with exactly 20 seconds to go in the game, the Devils got the puck on net. There was a mad scramble as Wayne Simmonds, Palmieri and Coleman collapsed down on the goal mouth. Palmieri finally put the puck in to notch his second of the night and to tie things up for New Jersey. Coleman (primary) and Hughes (secondary) had the assists on the goal.

With that power play goal, the Devils went 2-for-5 on the night with six shots. They also had a pair of shorthanded shots. Montreal was 0-for-2 with two power play shots and four shorthanded shots – one of which they scored on.

When regulation ended, we were off to overtime for the fourth straight Devils game. The OT period did not settle things, however, and it was off to a shootout.

In the first round, Nikita Gusev lost control of the puck and could not get a shot off and Armia was stopped on a nice glove save by Domingue. In round two, Palmieri was stopped as he too sort of lost control of the puck and Ilya Kovalchuk was up for the Habs. He scored putting the game on Hughes’ stick. His shot was stopped by Lindgren and the Canadiens had the win.

According to Cangialosi, the trade with the Atlanta Thrashers that made Kovalchuk a Devil happened ten years ago today. What a fitting way to mark this anniversary. Also, coincidentally, Kovalchuk, while with the Devils, set the NHL record for shootout goals in a season (2011-12), which just happened to be the subject of tonight’s MSG trivia question.

Kovalchuk was getting booed all night by the Prudential Center faithful and, when he scored in the shootout, quieted the crowd by putting his finger to his lips and doing the “shhh” pantomime.

The Devils won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Hughes doing well in leading the centers with a 57-percent winning clip on his faceoffs. The Devils were outhit by a significant margin at 27-7. They did lead by a lot in blocks at 24-5, however. They also had nine turnovers to the Habs’ three.

Individually, Severson led all Devils skaters with 29:24 of ice time (including 5:04 on the power play and 1:41 killing penalties) while Coleman led the forwards with 23:03 (4:10 on the power play and 1:44 shorthanded).

Anderson, in his Devils season debut, had two penalty minutes (a third period high-sticking penalty) and a hit in 11:06 of ice time (which included 47 seconds on the PK). White registered a minus-1 plus/minus rating and had two blocked shots and a giveaway in 10:34 of total ice time.

Coleman led in shots on goal with eight, Hayden led in hits with four, Andy Greene led in blocks with four and Hughes, Simmonds and Rooney led in takeaways with two apiece.

Next up, the Devils head down the Turnpike to take on the Flyers. This will be the Devils final meeting with Philadelphia this season. We will see you then right here.

Devils Feast on Habs in Thanksgiving Night Win

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the United States!

The Devils were working this holiday, playing north of the border in Montreal in the only game scheduled this Thanksgiving. In four previous games played on Thanksgiving Day, the Devils were 1-2-1 (losing twice in regulation to the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 1998 and 1999, losing in overtime to Phoenix in 1996 and winning in 2000 in Los Angeles), tonight they notched their second win when playing on the holiday, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 6-4.

This was the second and final trip to Quebec for the Devils this season. They last played there on November 16, winning in OT. Since that game 12 days ago, the Canadiens have been winless in their last five, including a loss two nights ago, 8-1 to the Boston Bruins.

Carey Price was pulled in that game against Boston, but he had a chance to redeem himself tonight. He ended up making 29 saves on 34 Devils shots for an .853 save percentage in the losing effort. The Devils ended the game with 35 total shots, adding an empty net goal later on in the contest. Mackenzie Blackwood went for the Devils and turned aside 44 of 48 Habs’ shots for a .917 save percentage.

Sitting for the Devils tonight were John Hayden and Brett Seney up front and Mirco Mueller on the blueline. That meant that Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt slotted back in at forward, with both skating on the fourth line with Miles Wood as their left winger. On defense, Matt Tennyson was back in playing in place of Mueller.

The game began with a slightly scary moment, with Blackwood colliding with Montreal’s Nick Cousins behind his net. He got up slowly but remained in the game, going the distance.

The Devils’ birthday boy, Blake Coleman, playing on his 28th birthday, broke the scoreless tie at 7:19 of the first period when Travis Zajac lobbed the puck up to Nikita Gusev, springing Gusev and Coleman on a 2-on-1. Gusev dragged the puck behind him as he cut in, causing Montreal defenseman Shea Weber to commit to the shot. He then passed to Coleman, who shoveled it into the net for the 1-0 Devils lead.

But in a pattern that repeated itself a few times in the game, the Canadiens responded less than 30 seconds later (22 seconds to be exact at 7:41) when the Habs’ Tomas Tatar tipped the puck towards Blackwood’s net and eventually, Brendan Gallagher would jam it home from the side of the net. Phillip Danault had the primary assist on the goal and it was 1-1.

But before the first period was out, the Devils would retake the one goal edge. At 8:17, Coleman banked the puck up the boards to Gusev, who broke in on a partial 2-on-1 with Zajac. Gusev floated a pass to Zajac and Zajac batted the puck out of the air and past Price to make it 2-1.

The Devils had the one goal lead going into the second frame and this would see more of the back-and-forth action that was prevalent all night.

First, Jesperi Kotkaniemi knotted the game up at two just 1:40 into the middle period. Max Domi threw the puck on net and the rebound came to Kotkaniemi in the slot. He scored and it was 2-2. Weber had the secondary assist on Kotkaniemi’s third of the season.

But the Devils fought back to retake the single goal advantage. Miles Wood came off the bench on a change and took a stretch pass from Pavel Zacha. He cut in all alone and scored five-hole on Price to make it 3-2 Devils. The goal came at 3:16 of the second and Will Buicher had the other assist.

Montreal’s Joel Armia would tie things back up at 9:02 of the second. Again, Kotkaniemi threw the puck at the net, but the shot never gets there, instead it comes to the stick of Victor Mete. He gets it to Armia who scored his eighth of the season to level the game at three apiece.

Once again, though, the Devils would retake the lead before the period was through. This time it was Jesper Boqvist, notching his second in as many games, who scored. It came when Kyle Palmieri got the puck to Nico Hischier, who gained the zone and fired high on Price. The rebound bounced over a Devils’ player’s stick on the doorstep, but landed on Boqvist’s. He shot, beating Price to make it 4-3 Devils going into the second intermission.

Price did make a nice glove save on Palmieri very late in the third, robbing the Devils’ forward of a sure goal with his left hand.

The Devils took a brief two-goal lead at the 8:21 mark of the third period. It came off the stick of Damon Severson when Coleman worked the puck out of the Devils’ zone to Gusev. Severson jumped up into the rush when he took the puck from Gusev and was off on a 2-on-1 with Zajac. With Zajac being on his off-wing on the rush, Severson elected to shoot, beating Price stick-side to make it 5-3 Devils.

But that two-goal lead would last all of 16 seconds. Jeff Petry dropped to Mike Reilly into the Devils’ zone. Reilly elected to go around the net, trying to stuff it by Blackwood on the wraparound. Blackwood made the save, but the rebound came to Artturi Lehkonen, who fired it home to cut the Devils’ lead back to one as it was 5-4 now. It was the second time tonight that the Habs had scored within 30 seconds of the Devils scoring.

Montreal would pull Price with about 1:25 to go in regulation and Coleman would take a pass off the rush from Zajac to score into the empty net, making it 6-4 (our final) and giving Coleman his first four-point NHL game. Wayne Simmonds had the secondary assist.

It was a big night for the Coleman, Zajac and Gusev line, as Gusev also had a three-point night (three assists). Gusev would be named the game’s first star while Zajac was it’s third. Kotkaniemi of Montreal was the second star – he had a goal and an assist.

Neither team scored on the power play, with the Devils going 0-for-3 with three shots and the Habs going 0-for-2 with three shots as well.

The Canadiens won 58-percent of the game’s faceoffs, outhit the Devils by a wide margin of 38 to 15 and had less giveaways at 13 to the Devils’ 18. The Devils led in blocked shots with 25 to the Habs’ 12.

Individually, Sami Vatanen led in ice time with 23:28 (3:01 on the power play and 1:49 on the PK included) while Taylor Hall led the forwards with 19:09 (including 3:30 on the power play). Hall also led in shots on goal with five, PK Subban led in hits with three, Andy Greene led in blocks with six of the Devils’ team 25. Takeaways were led by Hall, Hischier, Zajac, Coleman, Palmieri, Jack Hughes, Boqvist, Butcher, Severson and Vatanen who each had one.

Next up, the Devils will look to build on this momentum when they take on the Rangers at home on Saturday. Puck drop for this game is 1 PM and we hope you will join us then for what should (hopefully) be a good matchup.

Happy Thanksgiving again to everyone.