Devils Downed in Calgary, 5-2

Firstly, I am aware that this (and a few other posts) will be posted a few days late. There was a problem with the site following an update.

Western Canada has been trouble for the Devils for a few years now, but nowhere has it been worse than Calgary. Last year, the Flames doused the Devils 9-4 in March in what was quite an exhibition by Johnny Gaudreau. This year, the Devils got badly outshot and hurt on the power play, losing 5-2 at the Saddledome.

The good news? Taylor Hall extended his point scoring streak to seven games and Jack Hughes notched a goal and an assist.

The forward lines and defensive pairings all remained the same form the win at Winnipeg on Tuesday. Jesper Bratt joined the team and skated this morning. He could make his way back into the lineup as early as tomorrow according to Devils coach John Hynes. He did not play tonight.

Nikita Gusev remained back in the lineup as John Hayden and Mirco Mueller along with Bratt were the healthy scratches for the Devils. Of note for the Flames, Milan Lucic made his return to the lineup following a two-game suspension.

In goal for the Devils, Mackenzie Blackwood made his fourth consecutive start. He played very well again, but was just bitten by a few mistakes in front of him. He made 33 saves on a whopping 38 shots against for an .868 save percentage. Calgary just dominated in the shot department, outshooting the Devils 38 to 23. The Devils did not register a shot on goal for almost a full period following their second goal. For the Flames, David Rittich stopped 21 of those 23 Devils shots for a .913 save percentage.

The Devils opened the scoring 15:44 into the first period when Taylor Hall curled around at his own blue line and hit Jack Hughes with a stretch pass. Hughes got in alone on a breakaway, went backhand to forehand and beat Rittich to make it 1-0. Will Butcher had the other assist on the goal as the Devils headed into the first intermission with the lead.

But, just 3:02 into the second, Derek Ryan would tie it up for Calgary. It came when Ryan took a pass from Michael Stone, split the New Jersey D and beat Blackwood to tie the game up at one. TJ Brodie had the secondary assist for the Flames.

The Devils would retake the lead just about 2:18 later. This one came off the stick of Gusev and saw Hughes break into the Calgary zone on a 2-on-1, created by Hughes’ speed through the neutral zone. Gusev took the pass from Hughes and was able to shoot into an open net as Rittich had committed to Hughes too much. That put the Devils back up 2-1.

From there, though, things began to unravel. Sean Monahan tied things up for the Flames at 9:57 of the second when a Hall turnover led to the Devils not being able to clear their zone. This gave Calgary extended zone time and Monahan scored on the ensuing pressure to tie it up at two. Noah Hanifin and Johnny Gaudreau had the assists on the goal. This goal actually came at 4-on-4 as Gusev had gone off for hooking at 8:26 and then Mikael Backlund for tripping at 8:45 to even up the sides.

Then the Devils got into some more penalty trouble. It began at 13:10 when Hall was nabbed for a high-stick. On the ensuing man advantage, Backlund took a shot on net off the rush that was intended to be a centering pass and deflected in off of Andy Greene’s stick as he tried to redirect it into the corner. Hanifin (who ended the night with three points) and Rasmus Andersson had the assists on the goal that came at 14:53 and gave Calgary the 3-2 lead.

Hanifin got into the act when he scored with 13 seconds left in the second. This also came on the power play as Blake Coleman had taken an interference infraction against Andrew Mangiapane at 18:12. Hanifin scored shooting through several screens from the point, beating Blackwood cleanly to be credited with the goal. Sam Bennett and Backlund had the assists on the goal which made it 4-2.

The Calgary power play ended the night 2-for-6 with nine shots. They also had a shorthanded shot. New Jersey was 0-for-3 with four shots and two shorthanded shots.

Almost inevitably, Gaudreau had the capper at the 10:01 mark of the third period when Hughes hit the outside of the Flames’ net and Calgary took possession. Monahan made a pass up to Gaudreau, who sped behind the Devils’ defense. The New Jersey-native then cut up the left wing, beating Blackwood to make it 5-2.

And that was our final.

Team-stat wise, the Devils won 54-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit the Flames 18-16. They also registered 14 blocked shots to the Flames’ nine. Each team had nine giveaways each.

Individually, Hall was far-and-away the shots leader with six. Kevin Rooney and Coleman each had three hits to lead there. The blocked shot crown went to Matt Tennyson with four and takeaways were led by Coleman, Greene, Butcher and Sami Vatanen with one each. Time on ice was led by Vatanen with 24:24 total (2:31 on the power play and 6:26 on the penalty kill) while Hall led the forwards with 16:20 (2:14 on the PP/six seconds on the PK).

Next up, the Devils will take on the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton tomorrow night, finishing up that season series.