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Christmas Comes Early For Devils with 4-3 Defeat of Our Hated Rivals

The New Jersey Devils played a good game and went to a shootout, winning the coinflip ending of a game where they got few to none of the bounces in regulation.

NHL: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Brian Boyle is playing very, very well.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

First Period: The scoring was opened when Taylor Hall crunched Mats Zuccarello along the boards. Nico Hischier got the puck to Kyle Palmieri, who slid it perfectly to John Moore between the faceoff dot and the slot. Moore shot it top shelf past Lundqvist less than eight minutes into the game. The Rangers responded about halfway through the period, when Jimmy Vesey knocked a rebound into the net as Cory Schneider scrambled in his crease. The Rangers scored a second goal when Kreider shot it right into the chest of.Schneider and Damon Severson didn't do anything to stop Nick Holden from getting a rebound goal. Great defense in front of the net.

The first penalty was called when Kevin Shattenkirk held Blake Coleman as Coleman skated with the puck around the Devils’ offensive zone. Thus, the Devils went to the power play.

The first unit of the power play had some good movement. Their passes were mostly on point, and they chose to pass quickly. The second unit didn't do anything. They were slow and easy to predict. The second minute was completely wasted.

At the end of the first, the Rangers led 2-1. The Devils led in shots 15-10. The Rangers led in blocked shots 4-0. At five on five, the Devils were winning the possession battle with a 65.52 CF%. However, the Rangers were winning the high danger chances battle 6-4, and their shot heat map was all around Schneider’s net. The Devils’ general defensive lack of physicality showed.

Second Period: The first penalty of the second period came when Miles Wood was slashed by Kevin Shattenkirk after Pavel Zacha managed to keep an attack going, leading to chances for Drew Stafford and Wood. The second Devils power play was worse than the first, not getting a decent until Nico Hischier got a backhand into Henrik Lundqvist’s glove with a few seconds left in the man advantage.

The Rangers got their first shot on goal of the period seven minutes and 23 seconds into the period. The Devils were mostly controlling play, but the Rangers had a solid and quick counter. However, the Devils simply kept the puck in their offensive zone for more of the first half of the second period.

The Devils got a goal taken away from a crosschecking call to Kyle Palmieri. He tapped Nick Holden in the back, and Nico Hischier’s putback goal was taken away. Frankly, it was a terrible call. Nonetheless, it was 2-1 and the Devils had to kill a call. To Kyle Palmieri’s joy. Blake Coleman got a shorthanded goal, ripping a shot upstairs on Lundqvist to tie the game.

The Devils then went on the power play when Michael Grabner slashed Kyle Palmieri as Palmieri was in the crease hunting for a goal. The power play was cut short when Taylor took a bit of a stupid penalty in hooking Mika Zibanejad, who didn't even have the puck, on a two-on-two counterattack.

All told, the period ended without much more drama. The Devils registered 23 (!!!) shots during the period, bringing their total advantage to 38-18 through two periods.

Third Period: The adventures of Damon Severson continued when Kevin Hayes got the puck at the goal line and Severson gave a soft stick tap in his failure to defend a goal from being scored, as the puck deflected off his skate and into the net. The Devils didn't look as fast in the first two minutes, and it played right into the Rangers hands, giving them a 3-2 lead. If Severson weren't in the game, it might had been 2-1 in favor of the Devils to that point. He played weak defensively, and didn't move play the other way well enough.

The Devils were pretty bad early in the third. It took nearly eight minutes to get to the 40 shot mark, which required two in the period. They were not dynamic, and the Rangers counterattack became much easier to accomplish.

The Devils went to the power play when Chris Kreider threw his glove in Andy Greene’s face with 9:05 left in regulation. The penalty was for elbowing.

The power play was successful - Brian Boyle received a pass in front from Hall on the goal line. He put it on his backhand, and lifted it past Henrik Lundqvist. It was good to see after the poor start to the third.

There wasn't much threatening the rest of the period, and it went to…

Overtime: Three-on-three. The fated five minutes of joy or despair.

Hall, Greene, and Palmieri started off the overtime period. Zibanejad won the draw, but the Rangers attack failed. Palmieri clapped a riser above the net, catching his own team in a change. Schneider kicked the shot away. John Moore then had a great backcheck to stop Zuccarello. Johansson was playing terribly, allowing chances and failing to exit the zone.

When Johansson got off, the Devils got better again. After Lundqvist covered a Hischier shot with two minutes left, a timeout was called. Hynes sent out Zajac, Palmieri, and Vatanen, and the game slowed down a bit.

Brady Skjei drew a call for hooking, as Taylor Hall tugged his arm with the stick with just a minute and eight seconds left. The Devils then had to kill a four-on-three for the shootout. Boyle, Santini, and Greene were on the ice. The Rangers got the puck in the neutral zone, and had trouble getting going. They finally had a controlled entry at around thirty seconds, but Steven Santini deflected the puck out of play. Boyle won the draw and cleared the puck, getting off for Zajac. The Rangers’ last attempt was a Zibanejad one timer close to the goal line, but he missed the net and the last faceoff was out in the neutral zone. Santini blocked a Kreider shot to end overtime, sending the game to…

Shootout: By this point, I was just uncomfortable watching the game. I felt it was about to get me angry for some stupid a shootout ending for a rivalry game in which the Devils got 48 shots on net.

The Devils shot first, sending out Taylor Hall. He went in fast, getting Lundqvist down, but the low backhand was gloved.

Zuccarello went slow, and his wrister was gloved by Schneider.

Palmieri started the second round...and he scored! Lundqvist got some, but not enough.

Zibanejad, however, answered the call. He pulled the puck to the right, and past Schneider.

Stafford went third. He went five hole, but shot too high on the pad.

Jimmy Vesey went third, and his shot went into Schneider’s chest.

Brian Boyle went fourth...and he scored! (!!!)

Shattenkirk went fourth for the Rangers...and Schneider stopped it.

4-3. And damn satisfying.

The Game Stats: The Game Summary | The Event Summary | The Play by Play Log | The Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

The Opposition Opinion: Check out Blueshirt Banter for a recap. I'm sure they'll be thrilled with the result.

Brian Boyle is Our Savior:

Brian Boyle showed up when it mattered most. He scored the power play goal to tie the game. He was a part of the penalty kill at the end of overtime to send the game to a shootout. And of course, he scored the shootout goal that gave relief to Devils fans everywhere.

As it stands now, Brian Boyle has nine goals, six assists, and a very important shootout goal in 24 games for the New Jersey Devils. This means he scores .625 points per game this season - his career high in points was 35 for the New York Rangers in 2010-11, which was a .43 points per game rate. If Brian Boyle played the remaining 48 games in the season, and maintained his scoring rate, he would set a new career high at 45 points, in just 72 games.

I’m not saying that’s necessarily going to happen, but it’s where we stand now. These are the facts - Brian Boyle is playing the best hockey of his career. He isn’t scoring like a fourth liner - the player we supposedly signed him to be. When he gets put in a situation to score, he tends to take advantage. Nobody could ask more of Brian Boyle, who has been an absolutely solid player since he’s gotten his legs fully under him. In his past 14 games, Brian Boyle has 8 goals, 5 assists, a shootout goal, and a 27.6% shot percentage.

14 games. 13 points. Brian Boyle.

Great First Line: The first line dominated the run of play today for the New Jersey Devils. Hall, Hischier, and Palmieri had an 82.14, 72.41, and 77.18 CF%, respectively. That is totally insane. They were only on the ice for the Moore goal, which was created by Hall’s hit and Palmieri’s good pass. However, they did kind of get a goal stolen from them. I won’t harp on that call much (admittedly, because the Devils won anyway), but this line was golden for the Devils tonight.

Statistically, this was probably the best Devils team performance of the year. At five-on-five, the Devils led the possession battle with a team 61.05 CF%. It took a shootout, but it most likely did not need to take a shootout.

Who Didn’t Do Well...: Drew Stafford has probably played his last game of the year. I thought he dragged down the line of Wood and Zacha - and he did indeed have the lowest CF% at 42.11. Miles Wood didn’t exactly have a great game either, and I thought they both were horrible on the power play with the second unit. When Jesper Bratt comes back, I would like to see him take Drew Stafford’s spot on the third line next to Zacha, but time will tell whether John Hynes will blame Stafford’s frustrating ineptitude on someone else and do something like bench Zacha for a week.

The Goalie Battle: Henrik Lundqvist played pretty good. He stopped 45 shots during regulation and overtime, and I don’t think anyone could blame him for the shots that did go in. Cory Schneider stopped 24 of 27 shots, and some of them - especially in overtime - were pretty big stops. Despite the weak goals, he played pretty good when needed.

Looking Ahead: The Devils face off against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:00 PM on Saturday. That will be our last game before Christmas, but this defeat of the Rangers is a gift in itself. Let's hope for a win on Saturday at The Rock to have a four game win streak and five game home win streak before Christmas. After that, the homestand will end with a 7:00 PM match versus the Red Wings on the 27th of December.

Your Take: Who did you think played well tonight? Were you as satisfied and relieved as I was following the win in the shootout? Was there anything that specifically bothered you during the game that I didn't mention? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

To the readers, whether you were following in the gamethread or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for joining us for this game. This is Chris, and goodnight.