Devils Beat Stars with Late Surge

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!

Depleted Devils Clobbered by Habs

In the final meeting of the season between the Devils and the Montreal Canadiens, the Devils were looking to complete a season sweep in what has been a lost year for both teams.

The Habs, however, got the final revenge when they defeated the Devils 7-4 at Prudential Center tonight with the Devils losing streak now extending to five games.

The Devils were without a handful of injured players. Nathan Bastian, Jimmy Vesey and Jack Hughes are now all out with injuries with Hughes being shut down for the season. Vesey had imaging done on his knee and, although his injury was described as “not that bad,” he will be missing some time. Miles Wood was also out, sitting to rest as a bit of maintenance as he slowly makes his full return from his hip surgery.

Jon Gillies, Colton White and Mason Geertsen were the healthy scratches.

Forwards AJ Greer and Fabian Zetterlund, recently called up from AHL Utica were in the lineup tonight for New Jersey with both contributing – including Greer scoring his first goal as a New Jersey Devil.

In goal, the Devils started former Canadien Andrew Hammond, making his second start as a Devil against his most recent former team. He stopped 13 of the 19 total shots he saw for a .684 save percentage on the night. All of those shots came at five-against-five as the Habs did not have a power play on the night.

After Hammond let in Montreal’s sixth goal, Nico Daws came in to play the remaining 18:34 of the game. He stopped six of the seven shots he saw for an .857 save percentage. Those also all came at even strength.

Montreal finished the game with a total of 26 shots against the two New Jersey goaltenders.

The Canadiens went with Jake Allen between the pipes and he kept his career record against the Devils perfect. He stopped 33 of the 37 total Devils shots for a .892 save percentage. He turned aside all three Devils power play shots and 30 of their 34 shots at even strength. As a team, the Devils went 0-for-2 on power play opportunities.

The Devils were back in black again for the third straight game – the final of their four game homestand.

They were also looking for their first win since knocking off the Habs back on March 27 3-2.

Montreal, though, was hoping to get off to a very quick start and they would.

Just 4:35 into the game, the Canadiens made it 1-0 when Cole Caufield gained the Devils zone and dished off to Rem Pitlick on the left wing. Pitlick made a cross-ice pass to Nick Suzuki, who sort of flubbed his shot and the result was a knuckleball that beat Hammond.

Montreal had the lead and, in a pattern that would repeat itself all night, they did not take long to add another.

At the 6:41 mark of the first, Corey Schueneman, a defenseman, pinched in low and won a puck battle in the near corner. He gave it to Jake Evans, who was covering for him at the near point. Evans took a big shot that may have tipped in off of a Devil in front, but either way, went high on Hammond, beating him top shelf. Mike Hoffman had the secondary assist and it was now 2-0 Montreal.

Exactly 30 seconds later, though, at the 7:11 mark of the first, Tomas Tatar, the former Hab, got the Devils on the board. Damon Severson got the puck down to Dawson Mercer in the far corner. Mercer centered to Tatar in the slot and Tatar’s quick release beat Allen to cut the Montreal lead to 2-1.

Severson, with that assist, established a new career high for himself with his 30th helper on the season.

That, however, was not the score we were going to have going into the second period since Caufield was about to do his thing.

At the 13:44 mark of the first, Suzuki created a turnover in the Montreal zone. He then made an absolutely beautiful outlet pass, saucering the puck right onto the stick of Caufield. Caufield got in all alone on Hammond and snapped a shot by the beleaguered Devils goalie to make it 3-1 Canadiens.

In the second period, Greer made his presence known as he scored his first as a Devil 15 minutes into the second.

This one saw Michael McLeod settle the puck down at the far faceoff circle and then spin around away from the Montreal defense to gain some time and space. He then fed Greer, who attempted a wraparound. Greer’s power move saw the shot go off of Canadiens defenseman David Savard’s stick and up and over Allen’s mask and in.

Ryan Graves – who assisted on Greer’s only other NHL goal while both were with the Colorado Avalanche – had the secondary assist and the goal made it 3-2 Habs.

But one minute and twenty seconds later, Montreal doubled their lead again.

On that one, Chris Wideman passed from the point to Joel Armia in the middle of the Devils zone. Armia collected off of his skate and in one move gained a step on PK Subban by stepping around him. He then fired a shot under the crossbar and down by Hammond to make it 4-2.

Brendan Gallagher had the secondary assist on that goal, which would take us to the third period at 4-2.

The third period began with a succession between the teams in the first 1:53 of the frame.

Wideman started things off 1:11 in when Montreal won a faceoff deep in the Devils zone. Christian Dvorak won the draw back to Kale Clague, who went D-to-D with Wideman. Wideman then threw the puck towards the Devils net and it went in off of Subban’s body to make it 5-2 Canadiens.

The second goal in the trio took place 15 seconds after the Wideman goal.

At 1:26 gone by, Wideman sprung Dvorak through the middle of the ice and he was in alone on a breakaway, scoring to make it 6-2. Clague had the secondary assist.

Following this goal, Hammond’s night was finished and Daws came on in relief.

The Devils responded right away following the goaltending change with Ty Smith scoring at the 1:53 gone by mark. Here Nico Hischier gained the Montreal zone and pulled the Habs defense in towards him, giving room to a trailing Smith.

Nico then dropped a pass to Smith, who sniped a shot past Allen to make it 6-3. Jesper Bratt had the secondary assist to end his point drought.

Things settled in for a while until halfway through when Bratt ended his goal scoring drought as well.

At the 10:59 gone by mark, Subban (who would not get an assist on the goal, but played a big part in making it happen) created a turnover in the neutral zone and moved the puck to Hischier. Hischier broke into the Montreal zone and made a drop pass to Bratt just inside the Canadiens blue line. Bratt passed to Tatar, who gave back to Hischier, who shot. Hischier’s rebound then came right to Bratt, who finished to cut the score to 6-4 Habs.

The Canadiens, though, would put the kibosh on the game at the 13:17 mark when Clague scored to ice it at 7-4.

Gallagher took a shot that rimmed around to Clague, the Canadien defenseman who was pinching into the Devils zone. He shot from a really sharp angle, from almost behind the Devils goal line. It beat Daws far post in a well-placed shot and that was that. Dvorak had the secondary assist.

In the final minutes, Rem Pitlick hit the post and Evans was stopped on a nice glove save by Daws after Evans stole the puck from Smith in the neutral zone and cut in alone with a good scoring chance.

But time ran out on the Devils and their 9-0-3 streak over their previous 12 games over the Habs. That was the longest active point streak the Devils had over any team over ten games but it was snapped tonight.

The Devils outshot the Habs 37 to 26 and were again beaten badly in the faceoff circle with a 43-percent team winning percentage.

McLeod led Devils centers with a personal winning percentage of 71-percent over his 10:30 of ice time.

The Canadiens accumulated four penalty minutes as a team while the Devils had zero. The Devils were outhit 21-17 and Montreal had 14 blocked shots to New Jersey’s nine. Team turnovers saw the Habs with a dozen while the Devils had ten.

Smith led the Devils skaters in total ice time with 22:13. Dougie Hamilton led in power play time amongst defensemen with 2:25 included in his 21:06 of total time.

Hischier led the forwards in total ice time with 19:39 – which included 2:13 of power play time – which was also a high in that regard for the forwards.

Hischier (two assists), Bratt (one goal, one assist) and Tatar (one goal and one assist) each had two points to lead the Devils in scoring on the night. Greer and Zetterlund, the new call ups (with Zetterlund playing in his first NHL game since November), each led in shots on goal with four. Hits were led by Hischier, McLeod, Greer, Zetterlund, Janne Kuokkanen and Hamilton who each had two. Smith led in blocks with three. Personal giveaways were led by Yegor Sharangovich, Pavel Zacha and Jesper Boqvist who each had two while personal takeaways were by Hischier with two.

Next up, the Devils start a five-game road trip out west starting in Dallas against the Stars.

Puck drop for that one is 2 PM ET on Saturday and the game is listed as being on MSG+ as of right now.

We will have coverage for you right here following the finish of that one as the Devils try to snap their losing streak.

And before we end for tonight, congratulations on a great season to Luke Hughes, Ethan Edwards and the University of Michigan Wolverines, who were eliminated earlier tonight from the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four at the TD Garden in Boston.

The University of Denver Pioneers will now move on to the National Championship game against either the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State after defeating the Wolverines in overtime in the first semifinal.

Here’s to even greater things for both Edwards and Luke Hughes as they begin to make their way towards a pro career and take another step towards the Devils and the NHL.