The Devils, fresh off a 5-0 win against the playoff-hopeful Flyers, were looking to take another victory against the lowley Kings.
1st Period: The game started off quietly, with the first shot coming over a minute into the game, on a Blake Lizotte wrist shot. A few seconds later, Carl Grundstrom was called for hooking Jesper Bratt, in which Miles Wood made a great by to set up Pavel Zacha on a breakaway, which was stopped by Cal Peterson. Jack Hughes had a great chance where he tried to lift the puck over Peterson’s shoulder in close, but hit the post, before Mackenzie Blackwood saved a shot from the point from Joakim Ryan, which was tipped along the way.
The Devils had an amazing chance, off hard work from Blake Coleman, who will be mentioned various times in this article. His endless work led to a great chance for Travis Zajac, but he was unable to get the puck through as Joakim Noah slid in front of the shot. Mackenzie Blackwood then made Devils fans around the world briefly panic, as he bobbled with a Kings forward right in front of him, but nothing came out of it so we can just ignore that. Mirco Mueller slapped a blast off the post, before Grunstrom decided to match Mueller by shooting a puck off the post as well, before Blackwood stonewalled Michale Amadio. A Severson slap shot was rebounded towards Zajac again, who unfortunately shanked his shot. Austin Wagner then created his own opportunity off a self-pass, sped by Mueller, and then was robbed by Blackwood before getting cross-checked by Damon Severson. Not much offense happened for the Kings on the powerplay, but Blake Coleman read Doughty like a book, but was robbed by Peterson on the shorthanded breakaway.
In the 2nd Period, the Devils thrived. Blake Coleman and Travis Zajac got the ball rolling, with shots saved by Peterson. Pavel Zacha then preceded to have the first real opportunity, as he fired a low shot from in close that was stopped by Peterson. Blake Lizotte then hooked Wayne Simmonds in front of the net, leading to a delayed penalty opportunity by Kyle Palmieri where he was robbed by the glove hand of Peterson. Absolutely nothing happened on the Devils powerplay, but damage would be done not even a minute after. The Coleman line again pressured the Kings, as Coleman drove the net, and was saved by Peterson. Severson had the puck bounce to him, and he found and open Gusev on the side of the net to slap it in for a 1-0 lead.
Immediately after this goal, Carl Grundstrom was called for high sticking Connor Carrick, (and then the refs proceeded not to call Carrick for slashing but we take those) leading to another Devils power play. This time, they would not disappoint. A series of blocks occurred during the powerplay, specifically one by Kyle Palmieri, which Wayne Simmonds was able to find. Simmonds then passed it to a streaking Coleman, who blasted a wrist shot upstairs past Peterson for a 2-0 lead.
Then, only three minutes later, Jesper Bratt was able to find the puck and send it to Andy Greene. Greene, seeing an opening, shot the puck and a double deflection by Hughes and Palmieri led to Palmieri’s 20th goal of the season. The Devils then drew a penalty on a PK Subban interference call, and Kopitar was hauled down by Severson for a penalty shot, which was stopped by Blackwood. Blackwood then turned away Amadio again, before Zacha hit the post on a chance. Blackwood made one last save on a Doughty shot, to end the 2nd.
The 3rd period featured a lot of Devils defense, and the Kings desperate to break down Blackwood to avoid a shutout. Blackwood made a save on Tyler Toffoli early in the period, before then stopped Dustin Brown on consecutive shots. Wayne Simmonds was called for holding six minutes in, but nothing came out of it. Trevor Lewis was then called for hauling down Jack Hughes, and Nikita Gusev dominated the Kings defense but unfortunately no goal came off of multiple chances by Wood and Bratt. Austin Wagner nearly scored on a wrist shot which Blackwood barely corralled, before Dustin Brown, Michael Amadio and Trevor Lewis were stopped yet again. And thus ended the game, with Mackenzie Blackwood recording two consecutive shutouts!
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 Game Highlights: Will be updated when released
The Opposition Opinion: Not out yet, but I’d guess they won’t be happy. Check here.
Kings laid by a Goose Egg: A visual representation of how Nikita Gusev played tonight.
Nikita Gusev, simply put, was awesome tonight. He controlled the power play, dictating the puck as if the Kings weren’t even there, and created numerous opportunities for Coleman and Zajac. As he adapts more to North America, Gusev should get even more comfortable, which is awesome for the Devils
Coleman, the Best?: Coleman, the Devils leading goal scorer, showed all of his positive attributes today. He worked hard to dominate the puck, pressured defensemen at all times, and got a goal to sweeten the pot. On the season, he now has 21 goals, which puts him only one away from his career high of 22 set last season. On many accounts, Coleman is our best and most consistent forward, always willing to put his body on the line for the team.
Blackwood Shutout: Six straight (seven if you count the Canadiens overtime) period of shutout hockey for Mackenzie Blackwood. In a year where poor defense has maligned this Devils team, Mackenzie Blackwood has come out yet again and carried the team to victory. Blackwood made 37 saves tonight, stopping some high quality Kings chances, to lead the Devils to a 2nd straight win and 6th straight game where they have received a point or more.
Your Thoughts: Who played well? Who struggled? Overall, what do you think of this team? Let me know in the comments below, and good night!