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Devils Strike, Score Five Unanswered in Rout of Red Wings

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After falling behind a goal in the second period as the team started falling apart, Kyle Palmieri tied the game quickly before the Devils slaughtered Detroit in the third.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils
Two goals, first star.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

First Period: The first line started off fighting for the puck behind the Devils net, and won the puck away from the Detroit forecheck allowing them to move the puck up the ice before a pass from Kyle Palmieri to Damon Severson in the offensive zone missed its mark - and the Red Wings were able to avoid giving up an early chance with space for Severson.

Louis Domingue faced his first shot of the game as the Red Wings breakout slipped a pass behind Sami Vatanen off the boards to Anthony Mantha, who came in quick on Domingue and got a hard shot off that appeared to almost get past Domingue, but the save was made.

Kyle Palmieri blocked a point shot off his lower leg just over four minutes into the period and skated slowly and gingerly off. As he was doing so, Taylor Hall took a tripping penalty as he tried to pressure the Red Wings in the neutral zone. Palmieri came back for the penalty kill, playing on a unit with Nico hischier. They were not successful at getting the puck out of the zone, as they could not make a clear and Andy Greene’s attempt was sticked down. Domingue ended their pressure with a glove save. Subban cleared the puck immediately off the draw, and Blake Coleman put on a one-man forecheck show with a takeaway in the corner as Travis Zajac came in for a pass, but the puck got away and the Red Wings made one more rush up the ice in the power play that ended with a clear.

The Devils were looking rather poor at creating offense as the first half of the period reached its latter stages. Sami Vatanen made a great individual effort, going through the neutral zone and making a quick move around a defenseman at the blueline to gain the zone before firing off a shot that went above the crossbar and banged off the end board glass.

The Red Wings took their first penalty of the game as Nico Hischier had the puck along the boards near the blueline of the Devils’ defensive zone when he was tripped by Brendan Perlinin as he spun away towards the center of the ice.

On the power play, the Devils took an early penalty as Nikita Gusev went off for interference for lifting a Red Wings stick 20 or so feet in the air after he was crosschecked in the back twice. On the four-on-four, Hall and Hischier had a two-on-one that was broken up on Hall’s pass to Hischier for a tap-in. Subban collected the loose puck and fired a slap shot on it as it slipped right at him, but he was stopped. Johnathan Bernier then stopped a wrist shot from a zooming Jack Hughes, who was apparently trying to skate circles around the defense with only eight skaters on the ice.

As the Devils were pressuring the Red Wings and had a loose puck right in front of Bernier, Wayne Simmonds took a penalty for crosschecking Jonathan Ericsson. On the Devils’ penalty kill, Travis Zjaac and Blake Coleman kept the Red Wings from making a zone entry for an entire half minute. When the Red Wings did enter, Domingue had to make a few saves before the Devils made two clears to kill the penalty.

Taylor Hall made a steal of the puck and went hard to the net as he got slashed from behind twice by Madison Bowey before going into the crossbar as he lost the handle of the puck, which went wide. The Devils went to the power play again, and NIkita Gusev had a catch-and-shoot in the high slot that was knocked away by Bernier. The Devils took awhile to gain the zone again, and only Sami Vatanen got a shot attempt off (which was deflected away from the net) before the Red Wings intercepted a pass and cleared. The Devils did not get any more offensive zone time in the final half minute or so.

Just as the penalty expired, Madison Bowey played the puck from the box and took an interference minor.

On the power play, the crowd grew restless as the second wave took their time to shoot the puck after having a loose puck opportunity with Bernier out of the play, which went unfinished by Jesper Boqvist. A pass across the slot from Hughes to Boqvist skipped over Boqvist’s stick, and the following pass attempt from Hughes was blocked. Damon Severson took a desperate slap shot as some in the crowd were surely shouting “shoot”, but it was deflected right to Jack Hughes, who actually got a really good shot off for the second he had left on the clock, and the puck zipped just wide of the far-side post.

Second Period: With a minute and a few seconds left in carryover penalty time, the Devils first wave was put back by two early clears before Kyle Palmieri put the puck in the Devils bench as they were about to enter the offensive zone 31 seconds into the period. Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier played catch for several seconds before Hischier’s move to his forehand was interrupted. Nikita Gusev had a chance on a loose puck but his shot was knocked away by Jonathan Bernier.

P.K. Subban was about to breakout from behind the Devils net when he got tripped from behind, but the referees let it go, and he passed the puck with one hand to the nearest teammate so the Devils could continue to breakout. When play moved the other way, Frans Nielsen went wide around the net and hit the puck off Domingue’s pad, and Brendan Pelrini had a scoring chance that was averted. On the following play, the Red Wings got the first goal of the game as Taro Hirose redirected a centering pass from Bowey high past Domingue. 1-0, Detroit.

Less than 30 seconds after the Detroit goal, Taylor Hall worked the puck from behind the Red Wings net following a Sami Vatanen dump in, beating a defenseman to the puck and slinging it to Kyle Palmieri, who stretched out in the low slot to collect and fired the puck past Bernier to tie the game. 1-1.

Jack Hughes was hooked from behind by Robby Fabbri couldn’t catch up with him as he skated around Domingue’s net after taking the puck by the end boards. The Devils went back to the power play. Sami Vatanen sent an early wrist shot from high that was swiped at by Nico Hischier, but Bernier saved the wrist shot and covered the puck before Hischier could play it out.

On the second entry after a faceoff loss and clear, a pass from Sami Vatanen after he faked a slap shot went through Hall’s legs, and the puck was stuck in board play behind the net for about 15 seconds before the first wave, still on the ice, kept cycling before Taylor Hall settled for a shot from the faceoff circle to the right of the net that was held between Bernier’s right arm and torso to freeze the puck to practically kill the penalty, which only had four seconds remaining. Meanwhile, as the power play was 0-4 with Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt sitting:

Kyle Palmieri had a great chance to score as Taylor Hall and damon Severson pulled the entire Red Wings defense away from him, before he lost the puck on his backhand in tight on Bernier. He then took a crosschecking penalty behind the net as he chased the puck. On the penalty kill, the Devils spent most of the two minutes in their own zone, but didn’t allow chances as they were able to close down shooting lanes and collapsed around the net - and the Red Wings were unwilling to take a perimeter shot and thus went to 0-4 on the power play as well.

Following a save by Louis Domingue, who covered the puck as he got whacked, P.K. Subban and Tyler Bertuzzi got into a scrum that was more crowded than anything, with a few wild gloved punches thrown into the air and no actual fights. Subban and Bertuzzi got roughing minors.

Nico Hischier made a neutral zone takeaway and had a three-on-one with Severson in the high slot and Hall on the far-side. Hischier played the puck behind the Severson, and Severson made a return pass behind Hischier rather than a shot.

Out of the box, P.K. Subban had the puck deep in the Devils’ defensive zone and fired it down the ice to Nikita Gusev, who made a few strides as a Detroit defenseman closed in and fired a shot wide. Travis Zajac stole the puck immediately after and went five-hole, and was stuffed by Bernier.

Third Period: The first shot of the period came nearly a minute in as Robby Fabbri got a pass near the middle of the Detroit offensive zone and fired a one-timer low that was stopped by Louis Domingue. On the second faceoff of the period, the Devils deflected a shot away and allowed one re-entry before pushing the Red Wings back to their defensive zone. A stretch pass went wide to the Devils defense, and the counter-attack nearly created a goal as Nikita Gusev centered a pass to Brett Seney from the corner boards that went off his skate and off Bernier’s pad.

Dylan Larkin made a tough shot on Louis Domingue following a play where Will Butcher went crashing into the boards, and Domingue made a glove save to knock the shot down. Following the rebound, Andreas Athanasiou drew Domingue out of his net and shot from a sharp angle, but Domingue was able to stay in front of the puck and smothered it.

Off an offensive zone draw, there was a shot from Will Butcher from the edge of the faceoff circle next to the boards that deflected in, apparently off Kyle Palmieri. It was waved off for being kicked in. However, upon further review, it was shown that the puck deflected off Dylan McIlrath’s skate, and not Kyle Palmieri. Thus, the Devils were awarded the goal. 2-1.

Blake Coleman extended the lead not too long after, as Bernier sticked a puck behind the net, and John Hayden and Miles Wood battled along the boards for the puck. Bowey got the puck and tried to get it out, but it went right to Blake Coleman, who roofed the puck past Bernier. 3-1. Hayden was originally credited with an assist, but he didn’t even have the puck before it came out to Coleman, and the scoring changed to unassisted minutes later.

After the second goal, the Devils continued to attack, featuring a shift where Wayne Simmonds rang a shot off the post off a pass from Taylor Hall. The puck went across the zone to Jack Hughes, who ripped the puck and forced Bernier to make another save.

With over five minutes to play, Detroit pulled Jonathan Bernier for the extra attacker. On their first rush with six skaters, the Devils interrupted Dylan Larkin’s zone entry and caused an offsides.

When Detroit pulled Bernier following a zone entry, Taylor Hall deflected a pass around the boards to the point, collecting the puck and firing shot nearly the length of the ice for the Devils’ fourth goal of the game with over four and a half minutes left to play. This made goals in consecutive games for Taylor Hall, bringing his season totals to four goals and 16 assists.

Miles Wood got an odd-man rush opportunity as there was a loose puck near center ice that he jumped on. He had Blake Coleman to his right, but took a shot on Bernier that was saved. He probably could have gotten in closer or made a pass, but it wasn’t a bad shot.

Wayne Simmonds and Dylan McIlrath got into a fight with just 23 seconds left to play. They danced for awhile before grappling and throwing a few punches apiece but not really looking all too threatening. As he left the ice, Simmonds threw his arms up a couple times to pump up the crowd.

After the following faceoff and breakout, Blake Coleman got free for a breakaway off a pass from Miles Wood, who placed the puck perfectly. Coleman went high with a quick stop and backhand at the edge of the crease, and it went past Bernier 5-1. Devils win.

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

The Opposition Opinion: The opinion of the Detroit side will be at Winging It In Motown.

Domingue’s Delightful Devils Debut as Starter: Louis Domingue made his first start for the New Jersey Devils tonight, and it could not have gone any better. He was only beaten by a redirect high off a centering pass from below the goal line. He saved 19 of 20 shots, and displayed a certain aptness for playing the puck Devils fans haven’t seen - especially not from Cory Schneider, who played for Binghamton tonight. Perhaps the Red Wings coaching staff was unprepared for that, as their plays around the net were turned around multiple times by Domingue.

Mixed Bag of a Fourth Line: Sometimes I ask myself “What’s the point?” when it comes to playing John Hayden over the certain players that were scratched. In the first period, Miles Wood had one shift of 54 seconds. John Hayden played 48 seconds across two shifts in the first period. By the end of the game, they had gotten more consistent ice time, finishing with 8:28 and 9:51, respectively. Brett Seney, meanwhile, played 8:45. Even so, it was clear John Hynes wasn’t going to use them in many situations - which isn’t great for non-special teams players. So my question is - why not just play Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt, if not just for special teams? Even if they’ve been bad at even strength (they haven’t), they can at least be used in special teams situations. When the game is call-heavy like it was in the first period, it really handcuffs the team to make these scratch decisions for players like John Hayden.

Even on the first goal by Blake Coleman, they weren’t exactly the “reason” the goal happened. Madison Bowey passed the puck right to Blake Coleman, after beating them for the puck. It is important to be able to pressure the other team into making mistakes, and one could say that is what happened on that play, but even in that sense Bowey wasn’t about to be challenged by Wood, who was on his knees; or Hayden, had a lot of space between him and Bowey, who was right next to the net. There’s something to be said about making the opposition make mistakes, but there’s also something to be said about the other team just being really bad. That’s why Blake Coleman got his chance to score.

On the second goal, Miles Wood made a great pass, and John Hayden got his first point as a Devil on the secondary assist. Not to discredit Hayden, but it was hardly a play that makes me think much of him. Any professional hockey player should have been able to make it - so I don’t think his assist on the scoresheet ought to hold much weight in regards to whether he should stay in the lineup.

In all, despite scoring twice, the fourth line only had four shots and had the lowest expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of the game at 38.92. With only two defensive zone draws, Hynes wasn’t even deferring to them much in defensive situations - especially not when the Devils were trailing or tied.

Finally, Some Good Third Period Play: The Devils have far too often played a game close through a period, collapsed, and then did not bounce back in the third period. After dropping from 68.75 to 28.57 in even strength Corsi for percentage (CF%) and from an 82.63 to a 30.87 xGF% between the first two periods, the third period had the Devils outshoot the Red Wings 12 to five, with a 68.97 CF% and 66.8 xGF% - and of course four goals scored for the team.

One of my concerns about the team trying to be competitive as the season goes on has been due to their continued inability to attack in close games in the final period. Too often, they play too slow or too allow the opposition defense to stay back and prevent chances without making use of their skating or passing abilities. Tonight, even after scoring multiple goals, the Devils kept coming. Wayne Simmonds and Miles Wood were still trying to knock as many people on the ice as they were able while firing any possible shot they could take - even when the game was in its final minute with a 4-1 score. This made sure the Red Wings couldn’t claw back into the game - the Devils took momentum, and finally kept it. As the record continues to look pretty rough, it is really important for the coaching staff to continue getting the Devils flying out of the gate in the second and third periods of close games. They clearly made an adjustment after being destroyed in possession during the second period against the worst team in hockey, and a third period dud could have been a harbinger of the end of certain staff’s tenure with the Devils.

Your Thoughts: What did you think about tonight’s game? Did you enjoy watching? Were you happy to see them win? What are your thoughts on Brett Seney’s debut? What did you make of Louis Domingue? Who do you think in the lineup tonight is most at risk of sitting next? Are you confident the Devils will continue trending in a better direction? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether you followed along in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for reading. This is Chris - goodnight.