The first couple minutes of the game were uneventful, with both Mackenzie Blackwood and Cal Petersen making some easy saves. Damon Severson did well to defend a chance down low, preventing a pass from being made across Blackwood’s crease for a tap-in - but that was the only really dangerous moment for either team.
Damon Severson later had a chance to score, as he and Michael McLeod were at the netfront to clean up a wide-angled shot from the boards by Jesper Bratt, who was at the end of a long shift. Petersen was able to keep the pad strong against Severson’s jam attempt, and froze play. A couple stoppages later, Janne Kuokkanen had a chip shot that went just wide of the net, and he recollected to pull the puck back from below the goal line - but Petersen was able to get on top of the puck.
The New Jersey Devils were able to keep the Kopitar line hemmed in for around two minutes, involving two icings, but were unable to capitalize. They had plenty of zone movement, with Graves and Severson pinching and switching with the forwards. However, they generated no shots from the slot and only put on a display of movement.
Andreas Johnsson found Jesper Bratt down low for a redirection, but the shot went wide. The Devils pressured Petersen, with Bratt deflecting another shot that Petersen had to save. Then Bratt recollected behind the net and nearly scored again - but Petersen got to the post in time. Adrian Kempe then took a double minor for high sticking Ryan Graves.
The Devils lost the draw and successfully set up after a zone entry, but their in-zone passing was off the mark and they had to reset. Hischier, Subban, Zacha, Mercer, and Holtz was the unit. They had to reset yet again, as Smith, Bratt, Tatar, Sharangovich, and Severson came on. Tatar took a shot that was blocked, and Severson got a one-timer that was deflected out of play with 2:15 left in the man advantage. Jesper Bratt took an interference minor with 1:46 to go in the power play.
Anze Kopitar had a chance as the four-on-four became a power play for the Los Angeles Kings, as a shot from Graves wound around the boards and Nico Hischier missed on the puck when challenging Kopitar. Nico recovered well, but it was hard to tell whether he or a sprawling Blackwood stopped Kopitar from scoring.
Ryan Graves took a tripping penalty with 1:31 left in the first period, as he got was a bit too flatfooted in the defensive zone. The Devils were able to force the Kings down ice early on, and their reentry was ill-fated as well. Another reentry led to a proper set-up, and the Kings handled from the periphery before setting Dustin Brown up for a one-timer that was blocked away. The Devils and Kings went into the first intermission tied at zero.
The Kings had five scoring chances with Smith, Geertsen, Sharangovich, Gauthier and Kuokkanen on the ice during the first period at 5v5. LA had no more than one scoring chance with any other Devils skater on the ice. (h/t @NatStatTrick)— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) November 6, 2021
Indeed, Mason Geertsen is a terrible defenseman. Even when trying to take the body at the blueline, he got walked around with ease. There is really no reason to put him on the ice.
The Devils killed the rest of the penalty, as Jimmy Vesey and Frederik Gauthier wasted the first 20 seconds by pushing play towards Petersen’s net. The Kings shot the puck into the netting behind Blackwood with five seconds left, and the Devils pushed the Kings out of the zone as the penalty expired.
Dawson Mercer had a backhanded rush chance, off a two-on-once pass from Alex Holtz. His high backhand was fought off, and the Kings were able to defend the follow-up possession by the Devils. Tomas Tatar took a tripping call 2:18 into the period along the boards. The Devils did well on this penalty kill, getting multiple clears and not allowing any good shots on Blackwood.
Mason Geertsen actually did something good, as he was defending a two-on-one, slightly too far up to defend the passing lane. He decided to dive down and swipe his stick at the puck, disrupting the rush. However, the Kings would continue threatening, and P.K. Subban had to steer away a potential tap-in.
Alex Holtz had his first shot of the game nearly halfway through, as he took a long wrist shot that Petersen had to fight off high. A minute later, Mackenzie Blackwood was tripped by a forechecker while playing the puck, but no penalty was called. Mason Geertsen then pushed Andreas Athanasiou off during a rush, and the resulting shot was at a poor angle into the side of the net.
Jesper Bratt handled the puck behind the net as Nico Hischier jostled for position in front. As Nico spun open, Bratt fed him but the shot was blocked by Mike Anderson. Hischier had to kick the pass to his skate - a cleaner pass might have resulted in a goal.
As the McLeod line was cycling around, Michael McLeod was taken down from behind by a slash to the leg by Alexander Edler. On the power play, P.K. Subban’s stick broke on a slap shot, resulting in a partial breakaway for Alex Iafallo. Iafallo backhanded it into Blackwood as Subban threw Iafallo into the net. No penalty was called.
Alex Holtz faked a one-timer from the circle and sent it across to Pavel Zacha, whose wrist shot was saved by Petersen. The Devils then struggled to regain possession, entering the zone again with 25 seconds in the advantage. A wrist shot from Bratt went wide. As the penalty expired, a one-timer from Severson went wide and out of play.
The Devils, of course, could not just let the period expire without some inexplicable last-minute defense. Damon Severson let a pass go right through him to Adrian Kempe across the crease, with Graves behind Kempe - Kings scored with 1.2 seconds left in the period.
Through two periods, of the original four lines, only the Hischier and Mercer lines had created shots at five-on-five. The bottom six had a 0.00 xGF% in normal configuration.
At the start of the period, Dustin Brown and Nico Hischier collided with Brown’s stick around Hischier’s throat. No penalty was called. Awhile later, Ryan Graves’ stick broke, Damon Severson had to defend a two-on-one, which Blackwood saved after the pass got through to Moore.
A couple minutes later, Nico Hischier backchecked and intercepted a drop pass on a four-on-three, and he chipped the puck to Johnsson, who sprang Jesper Bratt for a breakaway. Bratt dipped with the puck and went to the forehand, beating Petersen to tie the game at one! An excellent defensive play by Hischier, a great pass by Johnsson, and the finish by Bratt.
After P.K. Subban made a huge hit along the boards on Blake Lazotte, Brendan Lemieux came across and hit Subban high with an elbow. He only got a minor for interference, but I thought he should have been given a misconduct as well. But hey, who said the referees care about player safety?
P.K. Subban was on the ice for the power play. The Devils had trouble with the puck early, but regained the zone toward the end of the first minute. Alex Holtz took a shot that went wide, and the Kings cleared the puck into the bench. Damon Severson took a minor for tripping with 40 seconds left in the power play.
The Devils failed to clear upon the beginning of the power play, as Zacha had the puck behind the net. Blackwood was forced to make an amazing save on a shot from Dustin Brown on a cross-ice pass. The puck went high into the air, was scrambled for, and cleared. The Devils killed the penalty.
With 9:19 to play, Damon Severson took another penalty for taking Andreas Athanasiou down on the rush. Severson had just given up the puck in the neutral zone with Graves sitting way too far back to pass to. Instead, Severson chipped the puck to the Kings and took a penalty.
Jimmy Vesey made a great impact, wasting about half a minute skating with the puck throughout the zones and dumping the puck in a couple times. Yegor Sharangovich broke up a pass and forced a couple board battles before the puck was deflected into the Devils’ bench with 30 seconds to kill. Siegenthaler cleared off the draw, and the Kings reentered with 15 seconds left. The puck got into the corner, was cleared into the neutral zone, and Severson returned to the bench.
With four minutes to play, Anze Kopitar put a rough hit on Dawson Mercer, who seemed to be caught off guard from his blindside. Shortly after, Damon Severson crosschecked Adrian Kempe in the face at center ice. With 3:46 to play, the Devils had to kill a penalty in a tied game. Of course, Arthur Kaliyev rips the puck from high at the start of the power play and the puck trickles through Blackwood’s arm. Nice shot, but a weak goal.
With Blackwood pulled, the Kings iced the puck with 1:15 to play. Danault won the draw, but the Devils won the puck back. Zacha attempted from a wide angle, and missed. Zacha took another shot that was tipped and saved. With under 30 seconds to play, Zacha ripped another shot from the circle that beat Petersen! Andreas Johnsson had the screen in front. 2-2.
What a clutch goal by Pavel to get us to OT. pic.twitter.com/ks2W515f13— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 6, 2021
As time was expiring, Jimmy Vesey went down to the goal line and dipped out for a wrist shot that was fought off by Petersen.
At three-on-three, the Devils sent out Nico Hischier, Yegor Sharangovich, and P.K. Subban. The Kings won the draw and the Devils forechecked, smoking Kempe out. Kempe created a two-on-one with his speed and found Kyle Clague with a pass, but Blackwood made the save on a chip backhand. Jesper Bratt won the puck off the faceoff win by Danault. Danault won the puck back from Ty Smith and set Alex Iafallo up for a one-timer, winning the game for the Kings at 3-2.
The Opposition Opinion: Over at Jewels From The Crown, they’ll have a recap.
Damon Severson. Keep your damn head in the game. Until the very end of the second period, Damon was having himself a nice game. He broke up a netfront opportunity and was making a lot of good pinches. After he let up that goal, he just fell apart, taking three penalties in the third period. That last penalty would prove to be one too many, as Blackwood finally cracked. It’s hard to be mad at Blackwood for the goal. It was weak, but he made a ton of amazing saves tonight. This is not on him.
Kings win in OT. Ty Smith had the puck behind his net and lost it. Philip Danault grabbed and it set up Alex Iafallo.— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) November 6, 2021
What a weird hockey game that just was.
Devils ... get a point they didn't deserve? Give away a point they could have had? They don't play normal games.
Then, in overtime, Ty Smith was caught flat behind the net by Phillip Danault. Danault got all alone as Smith made a futile effort to catch up, but Danault set Iafallo up for the one-timer. Just nothing there in overtime. Smith needed to get the puck out of there faster, and the Devils could have kept the game going a bit longer.
I am also miffed at Lindy Ruff for not sending Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt out to start overtime. That would have been the right choice, given the way Bratt played all night and how Zacha finished regulation.
Shoot the Puck (But Not from the Blueline)
Boy, oh boy. Devils blueliners not named Dougie Hamilton need to stop shooting the puck. Everytime Siegenthaler touches the puck, his shots seem to get deflected out. Ryan Graves never threatens with his shots. P.K. Subban created multiple unnecessary rushes against, including a breakaway, with his broken sticks. Severson was...fine with his shots. It was his breakdown in the late second and third that was an issue. Regardless...
Pavel Zacha had three shots tonight, but three of his attempts came in the final minute of regulation. Volume shooters need to shoot, and Holtz only had one shot tonight in addition to Zacha’s frustrating first 59 minutes. Jesper Bratt was amazing at generating chances tonight, with seven shots on goal. Lindy Ruff needs to put his shooters in better positions to shoot - and putting his two best shots (no disrespect to Yegor, but he is very off right now) on the same line with a shoot-first center is not the way to do that.
Wasted Lineup Spots
Mason Geertsen - 8:07. Frederick Gauthier - 8:25 (4:20 shorthanded). Janne Kuokkanen - 7:13. What in the world is Lindy Ruff doing with these roster spots?
Frederick Gauthier had a 0.00 xGF% tonight. His line allowed five scoring chances in 3:33 I like Gauthier as a penalty killer, but he is too much of a momentum killer at even strength right now, and I would like to see Yegor Sharangovich and Janne Kuokkanen contribute to this team. Are they going to do that centered by Gauthier? I have given the line a chance - I was even intrigued by its first appearance - but it is clear they need a more offensively capable center.
So, here we are. Alex Holtz has been called up, the Devils can roll a more talented set of lines, and the bottom six could only get one shot on goal with their normal line configuration.
Tyce Thompson just had a hat trick for Utica. He can play center - get him on a morning flight to the Bay Area, send Gauthier to the press box, and roll a playable fourth line. Get Zacha, Holtz, and Sharangovich on different lines and feed them the puck all game. Does Lindy Ruff want to win? Because this is how you do it - you get your snipers the puck. Jesper Bratt understood the assignment tonight, but he doesn’t have a lethal shot like those three. And while 11-13-63 had an 82.35 CF% and 89.35 xGF% with their goal tonight, I think we need to see Zacha on those board battles, giving them a bit more weight than Johnsson provides. Johnsson’s passes were perfect tonight, but he was one-dimensional in that respect and lost a few pucks that a faster or stronger player would have won.
When Pavel Zacha decides he wants to score, he usually seems to score - we saw that at the end of regulation. Why can’t Lindy Ruff get his offense to set him up throughout the game? They are disjointed, they lack confidence, and they cannot string passes together. They just keep winding around the boards and fighting for the puck until Ryan Graves, Jonas Siegenthaler, or P.K. Subban kill the possession with a bad shot.
As for the defense...as much as Damon Severson deserves a good benching for that third period, they need a healthy Dougie Hamilton for that. And, yet, I would rather see Severson than Geertsen tomorrow, seeing as Geertsen was not trusted enough to play in the third period. Just keep him and Smith to minimal minutes - that’s what they deserve right now.
What did you think of tonight’s game? Were you pleased with stealing a point? Did you stay up to watch? What adjustments do you want to see tomorrow night? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
And whether you followed in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for reading. This is Chris - goodnight.