The Devils embarked on their longest road trip of the season – five games out West that will take them from Dallas to Vegas and will put them in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race as potential spoilers.
And on that note, they got off on the right foot against the Stars, defeating them 3-1 at American Airlines Center earlier yesterday afternoon.
First off, I apologize for the lateness of the report. Something came up yesterday and I needed to record the game. I finally got to watch it later after the Mets game in Washington and am just getting this post up now.
Hey, better late than never!
Anyway, the Devils started off on their journey with some personnel coming and going.
Jimmy Vesey, Miles Wood and Jonas Siegenthaler did not travel with the team and, in fact, Wood (hip) and Siegenthaler (broken wrist) have both been shut down for the season. Siegenthaler had left during the third period of the game against Montreal on Thursday with the injury that will now shut him down for the remainder of the year.
In addition, Mackenzie Blackwood also traveled with the Devils and may possibly see some action at some point on the road trip. Nathan Bastian (who, like Wood, is also dealing with a hip injury) did travel with the team but did not play yesterday.
Colton White, Mason Geertsen and Jon Gillies were the healthy scratches for the game.
Kevin Bahl was also recalled from the Utica Comets of the AHL and slotted in on the blue line. He was on the second pairing with Dougie Hamilton.
In goal, the Devils looked to Nico Daws to again attempt to help them stop their nine-game road losing streak. He made 27 saves on 28 total Dallas shots for a .964 save percentage on the afternoon. He stopped the Stars’ lone shorthanded try and four of their five power play shots. At five-on-five, he got all 22 shot attempts. The Stars were 1-for-6 on the power play as the Devils kind of beat a path to the penalty box for a stretch in the game.
The Stars went with Jake Oettinger, who faced 23 total Devils shots and saved 20 of them for an .870 save percentage. He stopped the two Devils power play shots as New Jersey was 0-for-3 on the man advantage and made 18 saves on 21 even strength shots against the Devils.
The were back in Texas for the first time since December 2019 (a 2-0 loss) and were trying to dash the Stars’ hopes. Dallas is currently trying to cling to the final Western Conference Wild Card spot and being chased heavily by the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Devils were back in their more traditional uniforms in their road whites as well.
In addition, former Devils draft pick, Marian Studenic – who was claimed off of waivers by the Stars earlier in the year – was in Dallas’ lineup wearing number 43.
The game got off to a great technical start on MSG+ when the game clock was not showing up on the TV score bug at the top left of the screen. They eventually were able to display the clock from the scoreboard in-arena, but we never did get the power play clock at any time during the game – inadvertently lending the broadcast a little bit of an old-school feel.
A scoreless first period featured no scoring action, but see Daws rob Joe Pavelski a trio of times, the first of which was probably one of his best saves of the game. Daws moved right to left in his net and made a glove save on Pavelski, who was shooting from right in front.
As mentioned, the Devils got in a little bit of penalty trouble – especially in the second period. It did cost them midway through the second frame.
At 12:38, after the Devils had just finished killing off a Pavel Zacha tripping penalty, a penalty that expired at 12:10, Jesper Boqvist was sent off for hooking Tyler Seguin to put Dallas right back on the 5-on-4 advantage.
The Stars struck on this one, winning a faceoff deep in the Devils zone at 13:31 gone by in the period. Jamie Benn won the draw and Vladislav Namestnikov guided the puck back to Ryan Suter at the point. Suter quickly flicked a shot on net that appeared to have been tipped by Daws but did beat him cleanly to make it 1-0 Dallas.
The Devils would a too many men on the ice bench minor very late in the frame, but the tide began to turn as evidenced by an exhausted Yegor Sharangovich getting a shorthanded breakaway. He ended up being denied by a backchecking John Klingberg, who made a nice effort to preserve the Stars’ 1-0 lead heading into the third period.
The third saw Ty Smith take charge and turn the tide once and for all.
Just 4:26 into the new period, Nico Hischier gained the Stars zone and stopped on a dime. He then quickly moved towards the center of the ice to pull Dallas defenders towards him and buy time for Smith, who trailed in and took a drop pass from Hischier. Smith loaded up and wristed a shot by Oettinger to tie the game at one.
Fabian Zetterlund had the secondary assist to pick up his first NHL point. Congratulations to him.
Almost immediately following the goal, Smith drew a slashing penalty on Miro Heiskanen at 6:01 of the third as he was hauled down while trying a power move on Oettinger while in alone. The Devils did not score on that power play, but it showed how involved Smith was getting in the play and really working hard.
The Devils had some more chances as they began to take over the game later on. First, Tomas Tatar was stopped midway through the period on a breakaway. He was able to step in to the Dallas zone when Klingberg lost an edge at the Stars blue line, leaving Tatar in alone. He attempted to go backhand to forehand on Oettinger before running out of room and just losing the handle on the puck.
After that, Sharangovich clanged a shot off the post as he skated in up the left side on Oettinger and took a wrist shot in stride.
The Devils were denied on those plays, but Dallas could not keep them off the board for long.
Enter Nico Hischier.
A tremendous individual effort by the captain and the Devils took a 2-1 lead.
It happened at the 18:49 mark. Hischier took a pass from Zetterlund and skated into the Stars zone. He curled and weaved through Dallas defense, attempting to find some space and room. After a quick give-and-go with Bahl to buy Hischier a few more seconds, he got the puck back, cut around the Stars net and came back in front to score the game-winner (his 200th NHL point and his 20th goal of the season – making him the fourth Devils player to reach 20 goals this year) in a breathtaking play.
The Devils put the icing on the game ten seconds later, not even giving the Stars the chance to pull Oettinger.
At the 18:59 mark, off of the faceoff at center ice putting the puck back in play, the puck was won back to Damon Severson. Boqvist then got it and made a headman pass to Pavel Zacha through the middle of the rink. Zacha skated in on Oettinger fired a shot by his glove to make it 3-1 Devils.
And with that, the Devils hung on for their first road win since February 24 and had split the season series with the Dallas Stars.
The goalies were named the second and third stars with Oettinger the third in the losing effort and Daws the second. Hischier, with his jaw-dropping game-winning goal, was named the game’s first star.
The Stars outshot the Devils 28-23. The Devils won 45-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Michael McLeod winning 55-percent of his draws to lead the Devils forwards. He played a total of 9:02 (including logging 2:53 of shorthanded time).
The Devils racked up 12 penalty minutes while the Stars had six as a team. Hits saw the Stars with 14 while the Devils accumulated nine. Blocked shots saw the Devils with nine and Dallas with seven. Team giveaways saw the Devils end up with 11 while the Stars had 13.
Ryan Graves led all Devils skaters with 25:36 of total ice time (including eight seconds on the power play and 7:47 on the PK). Hamilton led in power play time among the defensemen with 2:35 out of his 18:34 of total ice time. He also played 1:05 shorthanded.
Sharangovich led the forwards in ice time with 21:21 of total time (including 1:21 on the man advantage and 5:09 on the penalty kill). Hischier, Dawson Mercer, Zacha and Jesper Bratt each led the forwards in power play time with 2:35 from their unit.
Hischier (one goal, one assist) and Zetterlund (two assists) each had two points for the Devils. Shots on goal were led by Mercer with four. McLeod led in hits with three. Graves led in blocks with four. Hischier and Sharangovich each had two turnovers to lead there personally while McLeod recovered two turnovers to lead that category personally.
Next up, the Devils will travel to Glendale, Arizona for a meeting with the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Much like the Devils, the Coyotes are eliminated from playoff contention and simply playing for pride, jobs and the Draft Lottery.
That game will be broadcast on MSG+ (according to the Devils’ official website) and will get underway at 10 PM. We will have coverage for you right here following the conclusion of that game.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!