What a first goal!
In the 2nd game of their series with the Bruins, the Devils played miles ahead of their season opener, as they grinded their way to a 2-1 overtime win. The Devils outplayed the Bruins in the 1st, 3rd and overtime periods, holding a potent Bruins team quiet during even-strength play.
To start the ceremonies, the Bruins deserved some (probably deserved) retribution to Miles Wood, as Kevan Miller immediately went after Miles Wood, engaging in the first fight of the season for both the Devils and Bruins. Better for the antics to be addressed right away, as opposed to the alternative of a dirtier game being played throughout the day.
The Devils saw their first real chance eight minutes into the game, off of a well-placed Nathan Bastian pass which hit McLeod up front. The puck stayed in the front of the net for a chunk of time, before the pass was shuffled again and a Dmitry Kulikov one timer was stopped. Immediately afterwards, Matt Tennyson failed to contain Charlie Coyle, resulting in a near breakaway which led to Coyle getting hauled down by Tennyson, and the first Bruins power-play. In a much improved effort, the Devils first penalty kill completely outplayed the Bruins power-play unit, resulting in more chances going against the Bruins.
The first goal of the game came off some great play on the Devils side. The Devils started off the sequence of events with a nice exit from their defensive zone. Then, Jack Hughes was able to pick off a pass from a Bruins defenseman, and distribute the puck to Ty Smith at the point. Smith sent a show towards the net, and Miles Wood was able to put his stick on the puck, leading to a 1-0 Devils lead. Important note: Miles Wood is now on pace to record 56 goals on the season, while Hughes is projected to record 84 assists.
At the four minute mark, Matt Grzelcyk slapped a shot from the point, which passed by Blackwood. Craig Smith bumped into Blackwood, which Cassidy challenged unsuccessfully, resulting in a Devils penalty. The Devils had a couple of chances, but it was the Bruins who ultimately came out on top, as the Marchand and Bergeron duo combined together for a shorthanded goal, off of strong work from Marchand in outmuscling Kyle Palmieri. A potentially questionable decisions by Palmieri to go for the body over the puck, with devastating effect.
With the Bruins having momentum, there were a couple of other chances for the Devils, which were stopped by Blackwood, ending the score at 1-1 heading into the 3rd.
The 3rd period saw a myriad of chances from the Devils side, as breakaways from Palmieri, Zajac and Hughes were all stonewalled by Halak. Blackwood made a couple of solid saves throughout the period, including a Trent Frederic opportunity, and the Devils and Bruins were locked at 1-1 into overtime.
The Devils wouldn’t let this game go to a shootout. The Devils nearly saw Charlie Coyle have a breakaway due to a Miles Wood mishandling of the puck, but Wood used his speed to present some defensive backcheck, knowing the puck off of Coyle’s stick. Hughes used his superior skill to dominate the open ice, but was stopped by Halak or the Bruins defense multiple times. Reminiscent of the opening game, the game looked set for the shootout.
Then, Damon Severson found Yegor Sharangovich. With time dwindling down, and 1.7 seconds left, Sharangovich found himself on a breakaway off of a no look pass from Severson. He calmly deposited the puck past Halak, giving the Devils their first win of the season.
The Opposition Opinion: Check out Stanley Cup of Chowder for their take
Miles Wood: For the second straight game, Miles Wood scored for the Devils. In this game, it was off a nice tip from a Ty Smith shot. Wood seems to be getting more ice time from Lindsey Ruff. In today’s game, he was given 15 minutes of time, and responded by negating a Charlie Coyle breakaway whilst falling one assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick.
However, Wood needs to find a way to simultaneously be as impactful for the Devils while also getting himself out of trouble. In today’s game, Wood and the Devils were lucky to avoid a penalty on a blatant high stick on Ondrej Kase, who had to leave the game with a likely head injury. For a player who just recently experienced a concussion in the previous season, this is a result no fan wants occurring in a game, and I wish the best for both Kase’s short and long term health.
Who Played Well: Multiple Devils played well today, as this Devils team legitimately beat a quality Bruins squad. The Zajac line played particularly well, as they all recorded Corsi’s of 64% and above. Ryan Murray, Dmitry Kulikov and Ty Smith offer stability to a Devils defense which struggled last season, and even Matt Tennyson wasn’t particularly awful. Gusev still looked a bit rusty, but performed markedly better than his debut. Jack Hughes is playing more confident, and does look stronger on the ice despite still occasionally getting out muscled. Yegor looked awesome - this rookie could be something special.
The Devils should look at this performance with pride and look to build off of it. They neutralized a Bruins squad through the majority of the game, and the team should only do better as they bring Bratt, Hischier and Vatanen into the game.
Blackwood again played beautifully for the Devils, offering the stability that the Devils need in order to stay competitive throughout a game like this.
Improvements Needed: One aspect of the Devils game that needs to see improvements is the faceoff department. Jack Hughes and Michael McLeod were awful today, as they combined to go 3-17 in the faceoff department. The power play was significantly more effective in terms of play, but the end results showed a shorthanded goal against and another 0-4 in the box score. Lastly, there are some moments where the rust is showing, and lackadaisical play is seen from players. Constant awareness on the ice needs to exist, or the Devils could get hurt in the future.
Video Highlights: NHL.com highlights can be found below
Final Thoughts: This was a good game for the Devils. The youngsters showed energy, helping to add some more energy to the Devils game. The veterans such as Palmieri and Gusev showed some additional life in today’s game and should only get better as the season goes forward. Lastly, I’m particularly impressed with this new-look Devils defense and love the additions of Kulikov and Murray early. Let’s hope this solid play continues as the season continues. Congratulations to Lindsey Ruff for his first Devils win. Congratulations to Ty Smith for his first assist. Lastly, congratulations to Yegor Sharangovich for an amazing first goal.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Are you satisfied with this performance? Who impressed you tonight? What are you looking for in future games?
Thank you for reading!