Devils Bounce Back with Win Over Blue Jackets at Home

The Devils returned home from their loss in Boston that snapped a three-game winning streak to face a team that they have had some trouble with in recent years: the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was the Devils’ first home game of the 2022 calendar year and they got the victory over a Metropolitan Division foe, 3-1.

The Devils were fortunate to have Nico Hischier back in the lineup as he missed Tuesday’s game in Boston with a lower body injury. He told head coach Lindy Ruff (who was also back from his stint in COVID Protocol) that it is something he could work with and push through on his own.

Jimmy Vesey also returned from COVID Protocol tonight.

The team did, however, subtract Andreas Johnsson from the lineup for the first time this season, as he was placed into COVID Protocol along with Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich, who were already in protocols.

Add Jon Gillies and Mason Geertsen as healthy scratches and the lineup saw the addition of Nolan Foote, making his season debut for the big club, from the Taxi Squad. Christian Jaros was also playing on defense, the first time this season that he has gotten into consecutive games.

Mackenzie Blackwood got the nod between the pipes again tonight as the Devils has said that he is “the man” right now so to speak. He made 31 saves on 32 total Columbus shots for a .969 save percentage on the night. He had a strong game as he turned aside the Jackets’ two shorthanded shots and all five of their power play shots. He got 24 of their 25 shots at even strength.

Columbus was held 0-for-4 on the power play.

For the Jackets, Joonas Korpisalo was in the crease and made 25 saves on the 27 total shots he saw for a .926 save percentage. He was equal to two of the three Devils’ power play shots he was peppered with (the Devils finished 1-for-3 on the man advantage) and got 23 of the Devils’ 24 shots at five-against-five. The Devils finished with 28 total shots on goal with an empty net goal later on.

Some other notes saw Jesper Boqvist playing his second NHL game against his younger brother Adam Boqvist – who is now with Columbus. They previously faced each other when Adam was a Chicago Blackhawk, a game that Jesper got injured in.

The Jackets’ Jakub Voracek was playing in his 1,000th NHL game tonight with the team that drafted him originally. Congrats to him.

And finally, the Devils were playing their third game overall (and second home game) in their black third jerseys.

This was the opener of a home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets and the Devils wanted to get off on the right foot.

And they would do just that when Tomas Tatar scored just 51 seconds into the game. Jack Hughes battled for a puck off of a faceoff deep in the Columbus zone, a partial win for him, that he was able to get to Jesper Bratt, who was jumping in to support.

Bratt quickly got it to a wide-open Tatar, who walked in on the doorstep with time and drew Korpisalo down, then roofed it over the Columbus goalie to make it 1-0 Devils.

The assist for Hughes continued his point streak as it now stands at five games.

The Devils would have that lead for a little over four minutes until Max Domi tied it at 4:54 gone by. On this one, Vladislav Gavrikov fluttered a shot in on Blackwood from the point. Blackwood had trouble handling the shot and Domi followed it in and was all alone to put the puck in when Blackwood bobbled it. Cole Sillinger had the secondary assist on the goal that got us right back where we started, tied.

For those keeping track of the unofficial stat of Devils taking pucks to the face: late in the first period, Janne Kuokkanen got a Damon Severson clearing attempt to the face and left down the tunnel. He would return for the Devils for the second period.

If the first period belonged to Blackwood, with the Blue Jackets outshooting the Devils 18-5 in that frame, then the second was all Korpisalo.

The Devils threw 12 shots towards the Columbus goaltender and he was equal to all of them. The Jackets mustered only seven shots in the middle frame by comparison, so Korpisalo needed to be big for them.

Of course, he got some help. Midway through the second, Dawson Mercer hit the post on a shot off of the rush. Ryan Graves followed up with a chance and missed the net all together. Patrik Laine would return the favor a few minutes later when he hit the post on a clear-cut chance as well.

New Jersey would break through finally in the third, just 1:16 into the new period, when they scored on the power play.

It was set up by Garikov taking a holding penalty against Nate Bastian 54 seconds into the third. Just 22 seconds into penalty time, Hughes and Bratt teamed up to give the Devils back the lead.

The two played give-and-go through the neutral zone. Once in the Columbus zone, Hughes tried to chip the puck up the wall to Bastian, but caught up to the puck himself, got it back and passed to Bratt in front. Bratt finished for his first power play goal of the season and his eighth point in five games. Bratt also became the first Devil to double digit goals this season with ten. Bastian was awarded the secondary assist on the goal that made it 2-1 Devils.

It was a dynamic goal and fully created by Hughes’ speed and skating and Bratt’s finishing.

Mercer would get another chance late on a partial breakaway as he cut in behind the Columbus defense, made a beautiful move to his backhand and tried to go over top of Korpisalo, but ended up hitting the post.

Instead, the Jackets got the chance to pull Korpisalo with about 1:45 left in regulation for the extra attacker.

At the 18:40 mark, Hughes would make it a three-point night when he scored into the empty net vacated by Korpisalo. Graves made a huge block in the Devils zone, well-timed on a shot and it got to Tatar. He got it to Hughes, who skated it just outside the Devils zone and threw it down the length of the rink and into the empty net to ice the game.

The Blue Jackets pulled Korpisalo again with about a minute to go in the game and Michael McLeod ended up being denied on an empty net chance. However, the final horn sounded and we had our final of 3-1.

The Devils were outshot 32 to 28 by Columbus. Each team split the game’s faceoffs at 50-percent each. McLeod was back to leading Devils centers with a 53-percent winning percentage personally. The Devils had eight team penalty minutes to the Blue Jackets’ six. New Jersey outhit the Jackets 11-6 and also had 11 blocked shots to the Jackets’ six. As a team, the Devils had 11 giveaways to Columbus’ two.

Time on ice saw Severson lead the Devils with 26:38 (including 2:13 on the power play and 3:53 killing penalties) as he, Jonas Siegenthaler and Graves will be getting more and more minutes with Hamilton out for the time being.

Hughes led the forwards with 19:00 logged (including 2:44 on the PP). McLeod led the forwards in PK time with 5:25 spread over his 13:57 of total ice time.

Three Devils logged multi-point nights: Tatar (one goal, one assist for two points), Bratt (one goal and one assist for two points) and Hughes (a goal and two assists for three points). Hughes had his third three-point game of the season tonight.

Graves led in shots on goal with five. Bastian led in hits with four. Tatar and Graves led in blocked shots with two apiece. McLeod and PK Subban each had two giveaways to lead there while Vesey had six takeaways to lead in that category – three more than Severson, who had the next most at three.

Next up, the Devils will travel to Ohio to finish the home-and-home with the Blue Jackets at 7 PM on Saturday. That game will air on MSG+. Be with us as the Devils try to silence those cannons and sweep two from the Blue Jackets.

Coverage will be here immediately following that game on Saturday night. Until then, have a great (and safe, depending on how the weather turns out) Friday everyone!

Devils Win Streak Comes to End in Beantown

The Devils’ three-game win streak came to a halt as the team fell 5-3 in Boston to the Bruins.

Let’s get right to the point, though. The Devils were depleted big time.

As reported by Sam Kasan earlier today, team captain Nico Hischier (lower body injury) was out for tonight as he had blocked a key shot at the end of the second period of the game in Washington on Sunday. The good news is that it was reported by Devils TV play-by-play man Steve Cangilosi at the end of the MSG+ broadcast tonight that Nico will rejoin the team tomorrow and will likely practice with them.

Today was also Hischier’s 23rd birthday, so happy birthday to the captain!

In more sobering injury news, the team announced that goalie Jonathan Bernier had successful right hip surgery on Monday and will miss the rest of the season. In addition, defenseman Dougie Hamilton (broken jaw) will have surgery tomorrow – Wednesday, January 5 – and be place on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 2.

In COVID Protocol news Kasan also reported that the Devils got Tomas Tatar off of the list and back in the lineup tonight, but lost Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha to COVID Protocol. They join head coach Lindy Ruff and forward Jimmy Vesey already on the list.

Due to this major upheaval on the roster, the Devils slotted Mason Geertsen back in on the fourth line and had defenseman Christian Jaros in for Hamilton. Alexander Holtz also played in his first NHL game since November 20th for the Devils. Tatar played left wing on the top line with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt.

In goal, the Devils were back to Mackenzie Blackwood as he has to be a workhorse for the time being. He made 29 saves on 34 total Bruins shots for an .853 save percentage on the night. He stopped Boston’s lone shorthanded shot and their only power play shot. The Bruins were 0-for-1 on the power play. He made 27 saves on 32 shots at five-against-five.

The Bruins went with Linus Ullmark, who was equal to 23 of the Devils’ 26 to shots for a nightly save percentage of .885. He got both of the Devils’ shorthanded shots and 21 of their 24 at even strength. The Devils were also 0-for-1 on the power play in a game where very little was called against either team.

The Bruins were in their “non-spoked B” third jerseys tonight.

Boston took the early lead just 2:53 into the game when Holtz had the puck in the Bruins zone and tried to lightly bank the puck off of the boards instead of just getting it deeper in the zone.

Curtis Lazar recovered off of that turnover and was in on a partial 2-on-1. He elected to shoot himself off of the rush up the right wing and beat Blackwood 5-hole unassisted to give the B’s the 1-0 lead.

Then the scary moments began for the Devils beginning mid-first period when Brandon Carlo tried to flip a puck to Taylor Hall through the neutral zone and Andreas Johnsson got hit in the side of the helmet with the puck.

Johnsson skated off on his own power and did return right away, however.

The Devils were playing catchup and would get things tied up just 57 seconds into what would become a wild second period.

The Bruins were trying to go D-to-D and a pass to David Pastrnak, who had been winding up for a one-timer, was picked off by Nate Bastian with perfect timing. Bastian was then off on his own on Ullmark, scoring glove side on the breakaway following the perfect read. That tied the game at one. The goal was unassisted.

For 20 seconds.

At 1:17 gone by, one of the strangest goals you will ever see occurred. The puck ended up on top of the Devils net. The rule states that the puck is still in play for three seconds. If it sits on top of the netting for three seconds or more, the whistle can be blown and play called dead.

In a heads-up play, Boston’s Oskar Steen jarred it loose and the puck rolled down Blackwood’s back and into the net. When it was timed by the MSG+ video staff, it had sat on top of the net for 1.5 seconds. Derek Forbort (secondary) and Nick Foligno (primary) had the assists on Steen’s first NHL goal – one of the weirdest first NHL goals you will ever see.

It was now 2-1 B’s but the Devils would not sit back on that either. Their response came at the 3:05 mark when Jesper Bratt gained the Bruins zone and dished to Jack Hughes on the right side. He got the puck to the returning Tatar, who shot through a maze of legs in front to knot the game at two apiece.

Hughes, with the primary assist, now moves his point scoring streak to four games.

Things would settle down for a bit until the Bruins retook the lead at the 9:42 mark of the second.

This was another odd goal. Lazar got the puck deep into the Devils zone and Trent Frederic recovered down low. Frederic threw sort of blindly towards Blackwood’s net on the backhand. Blackwood could not seal off the far post fast enough and the puck snuck in between his arm and the post, making it 3-2 Bruins.

Right after the Frederic goal, Dawson Mercer was hit in the face with a puck and needed to leave for the locker room for repairs. He would return, however, as the Devils dodged another bullet.

That took us into the third period, which was another relatively wild ride.

The scoring began when Damon Severson was called for the Devils first penalty 5:28 into the frame. He received a two-minute minor for holding Frederic’s stick.

The Devils would kill that off with a very effective PK and, as Severson was coming out of the penalty box, Michael McLeod hit him with a high flip pass that sprung Severson on a breakaway. Severson cut in on Ullmark and made a nice forehand to backhand move and scored to tie the game at three. That goal came at the 7:36 mark of the third.

That goal moved Severson up to sixth in goalscoring for defensemen in franchise history and fifth in Devils history. Joe Cirella just ahead of him on the franchise list and actually scored seven of his goals with the Colorado Rockies, so that actually puts Damon at fifth on a Devils-only list.

Things seemed to be headed towards another late ending and that was just what we got, just not in the Devils’ favor this time.

At the 14:11 mark of the third, Hall had a shot blocked to the far corner by Blackwood. Pastrnak got it back and made a power move towards the front of the Devils net. Blackwood fended off his initial chance but Pastrnak was right there to put his own rebound in to give the Bruins back the lead at 4-3. Erik Haula had the secondary assist on the goal.

Blackwood was pulled for the extra attacker with about 1:46 left to play. The Devils could not score and, when a faceoff brought the play back down out of the Boston zone, Blackwood was back in the Devils net.

And here was where the Bruins would ice things.

With less than thirty seconds to go in regulation, Tomas Nosek passed to Carlo, who got just inside the Devils blue line. He took a long-range shot that deflected off the inside of Mercer’s leg and by Blackwood to make it 5-3 Boston, our final.

Hughes, who had his stick broken on a not-called-slash on the play had a gripe, but the goal counted and the Devils’ bid for their first four-game winning streak since the 2018-19 season was done.

The Devils were outshot 34 to 26. Boston absolutely annihilated them in the faceoff circle, winning 64-percent of the game’s draws. Jesper Boqvist led the Devils centers with a 50-percent personal winning percentage.

The Devils were outhit 29 to 25. They did have more blocked shots than the Bruins with 13 to Boston’s nine. The Devils have 15 team giveaways to the B’s ten.

Time on ice saw PK Subban led everyone with 26:07 (including 47 seconds on the power play and 1:28 shorthanded). Severson led the d-men in power play time with 1:13 of that included in his 25:08 of total ice time.

For the forwards, Hughes totaled 20:08 of ice time to lead there – which included 1:13 of PP time. McLeod led the forwards in PK time with 1:32 worked into his total of 17:16 of total TOI.

Ryan Graves led in shots on goal with five. Nate Bastian led in hits with six. Blocks were led by Mercer, Graves and Jonas Siegenthaler with two each. Mercer led in individual giveaways with four. Takeaways were led by Subban with three.

Next up, the Devils will kick off a home-and-home series with the Columbus Blue Jackets beginning on Thursday with the first game at Prudential Center in 2022. Puck drop for that game is 7 PM and the game will be aired on MSG+.

We will have coverage for you right here following that game. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week everyone!