Devils Knock Off Sabres in Buffalo

The Devils could have been reeling following the news of last night’s trade that sent Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders.

Instead, the young guns stepped up, just the way General Manager Tom Fitzgerald and coach Lindy Ruff wanted them to. They defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-3 in Western New York.

Speaking of that trade, I did not mention in the trade recap last night that the conditions on the 2022 fourth round pick. It moves to a third-round pick should the Isles make the Stanley Cup Final. Zajac was a Devils for 15 years and Palmieri led the Devils in scoring in the time he was in New Jersey with 140 tallies.

With both Palmieri and Zajac gone, PK Subban and Miles Wood each had an “A” on their chest.

Now back to the game. This was the final game of the series between New Jersey and Buffalo this season. With the Devils’ win, the two teams split the season series with four wins each.

Some good news on the Nico Hischier front as the captain skated with the team at practice yesterday and took the morning skate earlier today. He did make the trip up to Buffalo but did not play. He could possibly be back as soon as tomorrow according to MSG Network’s Erika Wachter.

While we were talking about trades, the NHL trade deadline is Monday at 3 PM and Taylor Hall was again a healthy scratch for the Sabres, so his days in Western New York (short as they were) seem to be numbered.

The Devils scratched Will Butcher and Scott Wedgewood.

In goal, the Devils thew kind of curveball when they started Aaron Dell. Dell stopped 24 on 27 Buffalo shots for an .889 save percentage in his first start at the NHL level since March 2. He stopped 20-of-22 at even strength and was 4-for-5 on power play shots as the Sabres went 1-for-3 on the man advantage.

In goal for the Sabres was Linus Ullmark, who turned aside 32 of 27 Devils shots for an .865 save percentage. He stopped 24-of-27 at even strength, was 5-for-7 on the power play as the Devils went 2-for-4 as a team and stopped all three Devils shorthanded shots.

With Dell’s win, this became the first season since 1991-92 for the Devils that four different goalies recorded at least a win.

Victor Olofsson got the scoring started 53 seconds into the game when Henri Jokiharju went wide in the Devils’ zone and passed to Olofsson cutting throught the middle. There was some missed coverage and some miscommunication on the Devils’ defense that led to the goal. Kyle Okposo had the secondary assist.

From then, from the 2:06 mark to the 3:47 mark of the first it essentially became the “Pavel Zacha Power Play Show.”

His first came when Ty Smith, on the power play, shot from the point after taking a feed from Jesper Bratt. Smith’s initial shot was saved by Ullmark, but the rebound was collected by Zacha in front and he put it in to tied the game at one.

For his next feat, also on the power play, Bratt, from the half wall, again got it to Smith at the point. Smith then dished to Zacha at the top of the near faceoff circle. He shot and beat Ullmark again to give the Devils the 2-1 lead.

The Devils took a 3-1 lead at 16:04 when Janne Kuokkanen fore checked hard and created a turnover in the far corner. He centered to Jack Hughes and he whiffed on the initial shot but got he puck on end on his second try and roofed it over Ullmark to make it 3-1 Devils. Yegor Sharangovich had the secondary assist.

In the second, Buffalo would fight back to tie.

It began with Tage Thompson at 11:56 of the second period. Colin Miller played tic-tac-toe to Brandon Montour and he shot. Dell made the save with his left pad initially, but he kicked it out to Thompson who put the rebound in to make ti 3-2 Devils.

Then, at 18:21, Jeff Skinner tied things. Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart went D-to-D. Reinhart took a shot that was saved with the rebound coming right to Skinner. Skinner put the rebound in to make it 3-3.

In the third, the Devils retook the lead for the victory.

It started 8:45 in to the new frame. Michael McLeod forced a turnover behind the Sabres’ cage. He centered to Boqvist in the slot. Boqvist shot and Ullmark made the first save, but Boqvist put his own rebound in to give the Devils back the lead at 4-3.

At 18:17, Sharangovich added an insurance goal when Kuokkanen stole the puck in the far corner from Riley Sheahan. He passed to Hughes, who made a no-look pass to Sharangovich who absolutely ripped a shot by Ullmark to make it 5-3.

Kuokannen would add an empty netter at 19:28 with Ullmark pulled for the extra attacker. Sharangovich and Hughes had the assists to ice the Devils’ 6-3 victory.

In the end, five Devils had a multi-point night with Hughes and Sharangovich notching three points each.

The Devils outshot the Sabres, 38-17, won 52-percent of the faceoffs, were outhit 13-9, had less blocked shots (11-6) and one more giveaways at two to Buffalo’s one.

Damon Severson led the team in ice time with 22:19 with Hughes leading the forwards with 19:44.

Zacha led in shots on goal with six. Hits were led by Andreas Johnsson, Severson and Dmitry Kulikov with two each.  Kulikov also led in blocks with three. Johnsson’s lone takeaways led in that category.

Next up, tomorrow back at the Rock. The Devils will face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop for that second half of the back-to-back is 7 PM.

And before we go, congratulations to Jeremy Brodeur. Marty’s son made his American Hockey League debut last night with the Binghamton Devils versus the Hershey Bears. He took a 3-2 overtime loss but made 47 saves in the game.

Until tomorrow, stay safe everyone!

Devils Swept in Season Series with Capitals

First off, a very happy Easter to all those celebrating!

So the bad news? The Devils were swept in a season series by the Capitals for the first time since 2015-16 when they lost all four games to them. They lost six and tied one with the Caps in 1982-83. They also became the first team to drop an eight game season series since the Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins eight times over the 2007-08 season.

The good news? These two teams will not be meeting again this season!

Big news for the Devils camp as Kyle Palmieri was held out for precautionary reasons. The trade deadline is eight days away and we will see if both sides can agree to an extension or Kyle gets traded. Will Butcher and Aaron Dell were the other healthy scratches.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood had a rare afternoon. For the first time in four games he did not face 40 shots or more. He saw just 19 of them and turned aside 14 for a ;737 save percentage. He let in Washington’s only shorthanded shot and one of their three power play chances. At even strength he was 12-for-15.

In goal for the Caps was Ilya Samsonov. He stopped 29-of-32 at even strength, got all seven of the Devils’ power play shots and stopped 35-of-39 total for an .897 save percentage.

It was Kid’s Day at the Rock, with Nickelodeon characters out in full force to entertain the younger fans.

Travis Zajac scored the first goal of the game when Ryan Murray got the puck up to Nick Merkley – who was slotted in for Palmieri – who was along the near boards. Zajac was trailing \and received a pass for he one-timer an the goal.

But the Caps tied tihings at the 9:16  mark of the first when Brenden Dillion got the puck to Alex Ovechkin he passed off of the boards and Dmitry Kulikov’s skate to TJ Oshie, who made a power move around Kulikov and towards the net scored. The game was tied at one.

The Caps started to pull ahead in the second period. It began when Conor SHeary scored at the 3:21 mark. It was tic-tac-toe Justin Shultz to Dmitry Orlov to Sheary, who’s shot  redirected in off of Damon Severson to give the Capitals the 2-2 lead.

It would be Ovechkin’s turn at 8:09 on the power play. After a Capital win on an offensive zone draw Evgeny  Kuznetsov got it to Nicklas Backstrom at the near half wall. He passed to Ocechkin waiting on the doorstep a he just tapped it in. That goal tied Ovechkin with Brett Hull on the all-time NHL power play goal list (265 for both of them as he continues to assault the record books.

Before the second period was up, Yegor Sharangovich got the Devils back into the game. It saw Jack Hughes give Ryan Murray who hit Sharangovich through the neutral zone. He broke through tee Washington line, using Orlov as a screen, he shot an  scored, making it 4-2 Caps.

In the third, Carl Hagelin started the scoring, doubling up het Capitals’ lead. He scored shorthanded when the puck got by Damon Severson at the blur line. Garnet Hathaway grabbed it and raced up ice. With two Devils’ defensemen on him, he then thread the needle, making a slick pass by Garnet Hathaway, who passed back to Hagelin. Hagelin scored and it was now 4-2 Caps.

Kuznetsov made it 5-2 when he scored at 5:31 of the third. It was a Russian connection as Orlov broke into the Devils zone, lost the puck, but Ovechkin picked it up for him. He then passed backdoor to Kuznetsov who again tapped tpu ck into the net.

But the Devils still had some life. A mini comeback was in order. It began at 10:15 of the third when Pavel Zacha grabbed a loose puck after a battle along the board. He passed to Jesper Bratt in front who scored to make I 5-3.

Zajac would scored his second at 15:53 when Merkley passed to him to Zajac at the faceoff dot. He ripped a one-timer and scored. Giving him two goals, two assists to Merkley and two to Ryan Murray, who had the secondary assist.

But despite the Devils pulling Blackwood with 2:15 left in regulation, that was it for the scoring and our final was 5-4 Washington.

Team wise, the Devils outshot the Caps, 29-19, won 53-percent of the game’s faceoffs and had less giveaways at three to the Caps’ four. Washington did lead in this (22-18) and blocked shtots (15-6).

Michael McLeod led the centers in faceoff winning percentage with 75-percent. Jack Hughes led in time on ice with 24:13 while Ty Smith led the defensemen with 20:41. Power play time was led by Zacha and Zajac with 5:42 each.

Hughes led in shots on goal with foru, hits were led by Mikhail Maltsev and Severson who both had two. Blocks were led by Sami Vatanen with two and takeaways were led by Janne Kuokkanen and Bratt with two each,

Next up, the Devils will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. We will, of course have coverage for you right here.

Until then, I’m very tired and going to go to bed.