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.