Devils Earn First Shootout Win of Season

The Devils made their first trip north of the border tonight and finished their season series with the Winnipeg Jets. They returned the favor of the opening night shootout loss at Prudential Center with a 2-1 shootout victory of their own.

Kevin Rooney and Nikita Gusev were back in the lineup with John Hayden, Mirco Mueller and Jesper Bratt scratched. The reason Bratt was out was because he is now day-to-day with an upper body injury. He did not travel with the team to Winnipeg, but may be joining them later in the road trip.

One other note that was mentioned during the MSG pregame show is that Darren Ferris, Taylor Hall’s agent, will meet with Ray Shero sometime during the road trip. This will be their first face-to-face meeting since September and we will see where it goes in regards to getting Hall into the Devils’ fold longer term.

The Devils had some history to avenge, as they were 1-13-2 against Winnipeg in the two team’s last 16 meetings, coming into tonight’s game.

Nico Hischier got the Devils off to the early 1-0 lead when he scored 4:44 into the game. The puck was chipped up to Taylor Hall, who sped into the Jets’ zone. He then played give-and-go with Sami Vatanen just inside the Winnipeg line. Hall took the puck back and shot, with the rebound coming right to Hischier. He then buried it to make it 1-0.

This was Nico’s second of the year and his second straight game finding the back of the net, as he scored against Carolina as well.

The Devils had also scored power play goals in six straight games – they had none in their first six – but they did not score one tonight, going 0-for-3 with five shots. Winnipeg was 0-for-1 with two power play shots. They also had two shorthanded shots.

The Jets would tie things up at the 8:38 mark of the second period when the Devils were unable to clear their zone and Winnipeg moved it to Josh Morrissey at the point. He shot and Andrew Copp tipped it by Mackenzie Blackwood to tie the game at one.

A tentative moment for Hall as he avoided a hit along the boards by Dmitry Kulikov and seemed to get up favoring his knee. He returned.

One really scary moment occurred with 12:33 to go in the third when a Nikolaj Ehlers slap shot hit his teammate, Bryan Little, in the face. Little left skating under his own power with a little bit of help from the training staff, but would not return. Winnipeg would play the rest of the game with just 11 forwards.

Jack Hughes had a chance to give the Devils the lead late in the second when he walked in all alone tight on Connor Hellebuyck. He was stopped. Following a scoreless third period, that featured the Jets getting a shot off with just seconds remaining in regulation, we were headed to overtime.

The OT period was not uneventful, even though there was no winner declared here. At the 4:22 mark of OT, Blake Wheeler took a tripping penalty on Boqvist, who would have been all alone on a breakaway if he was not tripped. The Devils had the power play opportunity for 37.7 seconds in overtime.

But they would not score and, just like opening night, we were off to a shootout.

Gusev went first for the Devils and beat Hellebuyck through the five hole. Kyle Connor finished off the first round with Blackwood stopping him.

In the second round, Boqvist shot off the post and in and Patrik Laine missed the net to give the Devils the 2-1 victory.

Blackwood, making his third consecutive start, played extremely well, stopping 32 of the Jets’ 33 shots for a .970 save percentage. Hellebuyck was equally as good, stopping 31 of the Devils’ 32 shots for a .969 save percentage. Blackwood, fittingly, was named the game’s first star while Hellebuyck was the game’s second star. The Jets’ Jack Roslovic was the third star of the night.

Blackwood had family in the house, as Winnipeg is the closest NHL city to his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a mere eight hours away.

Statistically, the Jets dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 66-percent of the game’s draws. Winnipeg also had 29 hits to the Devils’ nine, 17 blocked shots to the Devils’ 13 and ten giveaways to New Jersey’s nine.

PK Subban led in time on ice with 26:10 (1:46 on the power play and 58 seconds of penalty killing) while Hall led the forwards with 23:02 (including 3:13 of power play time). Shots on goal saw Hischier, Blake Coleman and Miles Wood lead with four each. Hits were led by Wood with two, blocks by Sami Vatanen with three and takeaways by Hischier and Kyle Palmieri with one apiece.

Next up, the Devils continue the Western Canada swing with a game at Calgary on Thursday against the Flames. That game is at 9 PM ET and we will have it for you right here then.

Devils Fall to Jets in Shootout, Drop Season Opener

The regular season is finally upon us and with it, the first heartbreak of the season. The Devils blew a 4-0 lead to the Winnipeg Jets, eventually losing in a shootout 5-4 in their season opener.

The day began with the now-annual red carpet arrival for the Devils players. A good crowd showed up on a workday afternoon to welcome the players to the Prudential Center for the new season.

Once that was done, it was on to the business of hockey.

The show began with the annual player on-ice intros and hoopla. With the big additions of the offseason, hope was running high among the sellout crowd on hand.

Once the game began, that hope was quickly rewarded. Nikita Gusev, one of the aforementioned new acquisitions, got the scoring started on the season at 18:00 of the first period. Gusev created a turnover on the forecheck and funneled the puck to Jesper Bratt who whiffed on his initial try and then fed Gusev on the doorstep. He beat goaltender Laurent Brossoit to make it 1-0 Devils going into the first intermission. This was Gusev’s first career NHL goal and point in his debut game.

In the second period, Blake Coleman struck for his first of two on the night when he scored just 1:42 into the second frame. It came when Travis Zajac created a turnover in the neutral zone and passed cross-ice to Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds gathered the puck out of his skates and shot, with the rebound coming back to him. He guided it to Coleman in the slot, who fired, beating Brossoit to make it 2-0. The assist to Simmonds was his first point as a Devil in his debut.

The Devils were building a nice little lead for themselves and it continued at 12:34 of the second when Sami Vatanen notched his first of the season from Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall. It came when Hall took a hit behind the net to get the puck to Palmieri at the far half wall. He dropped it to Vatanen at the point. Vatanen fired with the puck knuckling by Brossoit to make it 3-0 Devils.

Coleman would make it 4-0 with his second of the night in what was a great individual effort 13:52 into the second. Pavel Zacha won a draw in the Devils’ end back to PK Subban who stretched a pass out to Coleman. Coleman then beat the Winnipeg defender, fell to his back, and one-handed the puck by Brossoit while sliding. It was a great highlight reel goal that will likely show up everywhere in the next few days. For Subban, the primary assist was his first point as a Devil in his debut. Coleman would be named the game’s second start by the media.

From there, though, the wheels began to fall off for New Jersey. It began simply enough when Dmitry Kulikov scored from Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele with 11 seconds to go in the second. That made it 4-1.

The Jets got another back just 2:41 into the third period when Jack Roslovic cut the Devils lead in half to 4-2. Neal Pionk and Mathieu Perreault had the assists.

After that goal, seeming disaster struck as Devils starting goalie Cory Schneider went to the bench seeming to favor his right knee. He came out and Mackenzie Blackwood came on in relief. It did not look good for Cory watching live, but hopefully by later on Saturday, there will be an injury update on him.

Blackwood gave up a goal to Perreault at the 7:17 mark to make it 4-3 Devils. Andrew Copp and Patrik Laine had the assists on that one.

Pionk would tie the game at four when he scored at the 12:35 mark from Scheifele and Ville Heinola. The Jets had completed a remarkable comeback all within the space of about ten minutes in the third period.

After a frantic final few minutes of play in regulation and a five minute overtime that settled nothing, we were off to a shootout.

Gusev again gave the Devils hope when he converted on his first try. Kyle Connor evened things for Winnipeg and in the second round, Brossoit stopped Jack Hughes and Blackwood stopped Laine. In the third round, Taylor Hall was stopped for the Devils and Scheifele was turned aside for the Jets. Kyle Palmieri then had the game on his stick for New Jersey, but could not convert in round four. Blake Wheeler finally finished things for the Jets, beating Blackwood in the fourth round.

In goal, Brossoit made 35 saves on 39 Devils shots. Cory stopped 19 of the 21 he faced and Blackwood 7-of-9. The Jets finished with 30 shots after only being held to four in the first period.

As a team, the Jets were 0-for-2 on the power play with no shots on the man advantage while the Devils were also 0-for-2 with eight shots. The Devils also managed a shot while shorthanded.

The Devils won 51-percent of the game’s faceoffs and outhit Winnipeg 21 to 13. The Devils also had eight blocked shots to the Jets’ six, but had more giveaways at 12 to the Jets’ three.

Subban led all New Jersey skaters in ice time with 26:21 (2:50 on the power play and 1:36 on the penalty kill). Hall led the forwards with 22:48 (2:50 on the PP).

Hall also led in total shots with six. Simmonds, Coleman and Vatanen led in hits with three each. Vatanen also led in blocked shots with two. Nico Hischier registered two takeaways to lead in that category.

Next up, the Devils will need to shake this one off because they next play Saturday night at Buffalo. We will see you here then for coverage of that game.