Third Period Marchessault Hat Trick Downs Devils

The Devils were off on a new beginning. Earlier today, general manager Ray Shero announced that the team had fired head coach John Hynes. Chris Ryan of NJ.com was the first to break the story via Twitter and the news came down officially around two or three in the afternoon.

Alain Nasreddine would take over on an interim basis and tonight was his first game behind the bench.

And, although the team showed some improvement in a few areas and had a little bit more jump in their game, the result was, unfortunately, the same as it has been: a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3 at Prudential Center tonight.

The lineup remained the same as last night in Buffalo on the back end of a back-to-back for both teams (Vegas was at the Garden taking on the Rangers last night) with all lines and defensive pairings staying the same. Jack Hughes remained out with a lower body injury and John Hayden and Mirco Mueller were the healthy scratches.

In goal for the Knights was Malcolm Subban, the younger brother of Devils d-man PK. He is getting some play while Marc-Andre Fleury stays on a leave of absence due to the death of his father. Goalie Subban made 32 saves on 35 Devils shots for a .914 save percentage. The Subbans had faced each other three other times, all while PK was with Nashville.

In goal for the Devils was Mackenzie Blackwood who turned aside 26 of the Golden Knights’ 30 shots for an .867 save percentage.

Vegas had won three straight, including defeating the Rangers last night. They looked to continue that trend early on when Reilly Smith redirected a shot off the post.

The Devils went down a man on the bench at 11:26 of the first when William Carrier hit Matt Tennyson, putting him out of action for the evening. Will Butcher took exception and ended up with a roughing minor while Carrier took two for roughing plus another two for the boarding play on Tennyson.

It was the Devils who would come out of the first period with the lead. Kyle Palmieri scored on a breakaway when he came off the bench, catching the Golden Knights in a change, took a stretch pass from Damon Severson and beat Subban to make it 1-0 Devils at the 16:31 mark of the first. Blake Coleman had the secondary assist. For Palmieri, this was his tenth of the year, making him the first Devil to reach that plateau this season.

Vegas would tie the game 5:24 into the second when Chandler Stephenson, newly acquired last night from the Washington Capitals, scored his first as a Golden Knight. It happened when Butcher was unable to clear the zone and Vegas took over the puck in the Devils’ zone. Alex Tuch centered from the near corner to Stephenson and Stephenson, cutting in, fired it home to make it 1-1. Tomas Nosek had the secondary assist on the goal.

But the Devils would retake the one goal lead as the game headed to the third period. At 14:17 of the second, Jesper Bratt took a pass from Severson at the point. He then fired from the far faceoff circle to beat Subban and give the Devils the 2-1 lead. Pavel Zacha had the secondary assist.

The call on the ice was a good goal for this one, but Vegas coach Gerard Gallant challenged for goalie interference. Taylor Hall had collided with Paul Stastny and fallen into Malcolm Subban. The puck crossed the line as Hall was falling into Subban, but the replay showed that it was coincidental contact with Stastny and Hall did not interfere. The call of good goal stood and the Golden Knights were assessed a delay of game penalty for losing the challenge.

The Devils had the 2-1 lead but then the third period and Jonathan Marchessault happened.

Marchessault scored just 1:05 into the third to tie the game at two. This one came when William Karlsson burst up the right wing and threw the puck at Blackwood with Marchessault cutting to the net. It deflected in off of his skate to give him his first of the night, but not his last. Smith had the secondary assist.

At the 5:04 mark, Marchessault scored to give Vegas their first lead of the night. It came when Deryk Engelland shot from the point and Marchessault tipped it down and in past Blackwood to make it 3-2 Golden Knights. Tuch had the other assist. The two goals came 3:59 apart as the Knights took their first lead.

Marchessault completed the natural hat trick at 9:40 on the power play. Severson had been called for a hook to set this up. Smith and Tuch played give-and-go down low before Tuch dropped it to Marchessault cutting in. Blackwood stopped his initial shot, but Marchessault put his own rebound in to complete his third career NHL hat trick.

On the power play, the Devils were 0-for-2 with four shots. New Jersey also had a pair of shorthanded shots. Vegas was 1-for-3 with eight shots on the power play and as well as a shorthanded shot.

Twenty seconds after Marchessault’s third goal, Nico Hischier would add one of his own to pull the Devils back within one. Palmieri banked the puck up the boards to Hall and Hall gave to Hischier inside the Vegas zone. Nico then wrested one from the far faceoff circle, beating Subban to make it 4-3. This would be our final.

The Devils had a chance as Palmieri was hauled down on a breakaway late in the period, but no penalty was called. They pulled Blackwood with about 1:45 to go in regulation, but could not get it tied.

The Devils won 46-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Knights 23-19. The Golden Knights had three more shots blocked at 16 to 13 and less giveaways at six to the Devils’ ten.

Hall and Coleman led in shots on goal with five each. Hits were led by Hischier, Coleman and Palmieri with three apiece. Sami Vatanen led in blocks with three. Takeaways were led by Hall with two.

Time on ice saw Vatanen lead with a whopping 27:13 (2:08 on the power play and 3:17 on the penalty kill). But remember that Tennyson was injured early in the game and, thus, the Devils were playing down a defenseman. Hall led the forwards with 19:21 (including 2:08 on the power play).

Next up, the Devils get a few days off before they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at home on Friday. We will have coverage for you here as, hopefully, Nasreddine can get his first victory behind the Devils bench then.

Sabres Slam Devils Again

The Devils did not get the month of December off on the right foot. They lost for the second time in Buffalo this year, giving up seven goals once again to the Sabres, falling 7-1 tonight at KeyBank Center.

This is coming off of a game versus the Rangers on Saturday where, for the first time in team history, they gave up two shorthanded goals and got shutout.

The Devils had some hope has they had won three of their last four games on the road, dating back to the game at Vancouver in the middle of November.

The Devils made some changes to the lineup as Jesper Boqvist, who made his NHL debut earlier in the year in Buffalo, was moved to the top line with Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. Taylor Hall would skate on a line with Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt.

John Hayden and Mirco Mueller remained the healthy scratches while Jack Hughes remained out with the lower body injury suffered in the Montreal game on Thanksgiving.

The Devils were in their reds tonight as the Sabres were again wearing their special 50th anniversary uniforms. Today was actually the 50th anniversary to the day, according to MSG’s Steve Cangialosi, that Buffalo was awarded a National Hockey League franchise, December 2, 1969.

Jack Eichel had a nine-game point streak coming into this contest and he wasted no time in making it ten.

The Buffalo captain scored just 2:46 into the game, right after the Devils had killed off a penalty (Blake Coleman went off for tripping just 44 seconds in). Rasmus Ristolainen centered the puck to Eichel on the doorstep. Devils goalie Louis Domingue made the initial save and Eichel hammered at the rebound to put it home. He scored on the first Sabres’ shot of the game.

Jeff Skinner put Buffalo up 2-0 when he scored at 4:59. Johan Larsson stole the puck at the Devils blueline and Skinner grabbed it, breaking in on a partial breakaway. He made a slight hesitation move and Domingue bit. Just like that, the Sabres were up a pair.

The next two came courtesy of Conor Sheary. The first came at 6:57 when the Devils were stopped on a 2-on-1 in the Sabres’ zone. Hall passed to Bratt and he tried to pass it back instead of shooting. By then, Hall had been cornered at a bad angle and Buffalo took control. They broke back the other way and Sheary potted his fourth of the year from Skinner and Larsson. That made it 3-0 Buffalo.

His fifth goal came at 16:41 when he came up the left-wing boards and threw it on net. Domingue blocked it aside, but the puck went off his blocker and up and over his body into the net. It was a strange one that Domingue would no doubt like to have back. Larsson and Jake McCabe had the assists on the goal that made it 4-0 Sabres.

The fifth goal for the Sabres came off the stick of Rasmus Asplund and was his first career NHL goal. It came at 19:02 of the first period when the Devils turned the puck over in their zone, and Casey Mittelstadt got it to Asplund at the far face off circle. He fired and beat Domingue to make it 5-0 Buffalo.

During the first period, Julien Fournier, one of the linesmen, got ill. This resulted in him leaving the game and the teams playing the rest of the game with just three officials: two referees and one linesman.

Following the first period, which saw Domingue get shelled and break his stick over his knee as he was leaving the ice at the end of the frame, Mackenzie Blackwood came on in relief. This was the first time since 1993 that the Devils had given up five goals in a single period and the second time that Blackwood relieved, as he had replaced Cory Schneider on opening night when the latter suffered muscle cramps.

At 3:22 of the second period, PK Subban had tried to single-handedly spark some offense and he barreled into the Buffalo goalie, Linus Ullmark. Colin Miller took exception and the two went off with matching roughing minors. This resulted in two minutes of four-on-four hockey.

During that four-on-four time, at 4:40, Victor Olofsson scored off tic-tac-toe passing from Jack Eichel and Brandon Montour. Olofsson ended up shooting from the far faceoff circle to beat Blackwood. There was some hesitation at first as neither team realized the puck had gone in. Following that, Buffalo’s celebration was subdued afterwards as the game was beginning to get out of hand. It was now 6-0 Sabres.

The Devils got on the board on the power play at 8:10 of the second when Hischier scored. Zemgus Girgensons was called for tripping Nico at 6:31 putting New Jersey on the man advantage. The goal saw Nico take a hit in the corner to get the puck, pass to Nikita Gusev at the point. He went to the other point to Sami Vatanen. Vatanen fired on net and Hischier was there to chop at the rebound, which he put in to make it 6-1.

But the Sabres would get that one back at 12:08. Olofsson chipped the puck to Henri Jokiharju at the point and Jokiharju fired an absolute bomb by Blackwood. Eichel had the other assist on the goal which made it 7-1.

The goal also came on the power play, with Kyle Palmieri taking a tripping penalty against Mittelstadt to put Buffalo on the man advantage. Palmieri was incensed on the call, feeling that Mittelstadt embellished on the trip.

Overall, the Devils went 1-for-4 on the power play with 11 shots while the Sabres were 1-for-2 with two power play shots and a pair of shorthanded shots.

The Devils actually outshot the Sabres 21-8 in the second period, but had little to show for it. The Devils seemed to have gotten one late, but the puck actually went under the net as it was slightly dislodged. That was just the kind of night it was for the Devils.

In net, Domingue stopped 10 of the 15 shots he saw for a .667 save percentage in his twenty minutes of work. Blackwood was 15-for-17 with an .882 save percentage. Buffalo finished with 32 total shots on goal. Ullmark stopped 44 of New Jersey’s 45 shots for a .978 save percentage.

The Devils own 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs, had 22 hits to the Sabres’ nine. Buffalo had 12 blocked shots to the Devils’ four and 11 giveaways to the Devils’ seven.

Vatanen led all Devils’ skaters with 20:10 of ice time (3:18 on the power play and 1:44 on the PK) while Hall led the forwards with 16:57 (including 4:09 on the PP). Shots were led by Wayne Simmonds, Jesper Bratt and Vatanen, who all had five. In fact, every Devils’ skater registered a shot in the game except for Andy Greene.  Defenseman Matt Tennyson had the most hits with four. Hischier led in blocks with two and Hall, Simmonds and Zacha each led in takeaways with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils will have to regroup right away. They return home tomorrow night to take on the Vegas Golden Knights at Prudential Center. We will have that for you right here tomorrow night.