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Bratt Scores Twice as Devils Get Back on Winning Track in 6-2 Win over Red Wings

After their 3 game winning streak was snapped last night, the Devils responded in Hockeytown by starting a new one.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings
Bratt picked up 2 goals and an assist in the win over Detroit
Brian Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

The New Jersey Devils took control off of the opening faceoff but were in offsides 17 seconds in. Detroit won the ensuing draw and Dylan Larkin sent the puck in front. Lucas Raymond had a scoring chance that was blocked away and the Devils cleared and changed. Detroit came back with a centering attempt for David Perron than Yegor Sharangovich blocked away. Detroit iced the puck but got a quick clear and were in transition after Bratt lost the puck in the offensive zone. The Red Wings caught the Devils in transition, Jonas Siegenthaler drifted too far away from Dylan Larkin, and Kubalik found Larkin to slip the puck past Vitek Vanecek to make it 1-0 Detroit.

Detroit came back and gained the zone with a drop pass to Lucas Raymond, setting up a Ben Chiarot slapper from the point that Vanecek smothered up. The Devils fourth line got a little something going with Nate Bastian, Miles Wood, and John Marino trying to put the puck on net, but Alex Nedeljkovic made a few stops. Dougie Hamilton missed the mark on a stretch pass which led to an icing with 10:20 left. After a clear, Bratt dug the puck out along the boards and found Erik Haula in front for a backhander that was turned away. Nedeljkovic covered up for the first TV timeout with 9:38 to go.

The Devils created a turnover in the defensive zone which set up Tomas Tatar for a wrister. Easy stop for Nedeljkovic. On the next sequence, Mercer almost found Sharangovich in front for a point blank chance but the Red Wings got a stick on it. The Devils maintained possession, with John Marino working the puck along the boards and finding Dawson Mercer who fired the puck through traffic and in to tie the game.

The Devils got back on the scoresheet shortly after Erika Wachter finished an interview with Luke Hughes, who was attending the game as a fan. Damon Severson fed the puck down low for Jesper Bratt, who sent the puck across the crease for Jack Hughes who buried it to make it 2-1. Give credit as well to Erik Haula who created havoc in front of Nedeljkovic without making contact. According to the MSG broadcast, Dylan Larkin got himself tossed out of the ensuing faceoff, which kept Detroit from challenging for goaltender interference, so the Red Wings caught a break there as they probably would’ve lost the challenge.

Bratt found Hughes for another chance in front, but with the Red Wings closing in fast on defense, his pass to Haula was picked off. Not much else happened in the closing moments of the first period (aside from the Devils avoiding disaster as McLeod made an ill-advised decision in front of Vanecek that ultimately led to nothing), and the Devils went to the dressing room up 2-1. Solid first period overall after the Devils got off to a slow start.

Second Period

Nico Hischier won the opening draw and after a quick Red Wings clear, Hischier made a nice toe drag to gain the zone and set up Tatar for a shot. The Devils got a power play after Robert Hagg put the puck over the glass. They scored almost immediately as Hischier won the offensive zone draw and Hughes connected with Bratt on the seam pass. Bratt buried it to make it 3-1 New Jersey.

Miles Wood had his customary breakaway chance that he couldn’t slip by Nedeljkovic’s pads. Jonas Siegenthaler went to the box for a cross-check to give Detroit a chance. Fortunately, the Devils got a quick clear and a scoring chance as Yegor Sharangovich and Nico Hischier caught the Wings in an odd man rush. Sharangovich teased pass but ripped the shot above Nedeljkovic’s shoulder for the short-handed goal.

The Devils killed off the rest of the Detroit power play but kept up the pressure at 5v5. Haula blocked a shot by Olli Maatta and the puck bounced into the bench area for the first TV timeout at 12:59 left.

Vanecek made his best safe of the night to this point as he stopped a point-blank chance by Perron. Hughes iced the puck though, leading to a defensive zone draw and the Red Wings iced it themselves after a Devils clear. Alex Holtz made a nice pass to Mercer as he gained the zone and got a shot off.

McLeod took a big hit in the corner by Haag but seemed to come out of it ok. Nedeljkovic stopped a shot by Hischier as the Devils continued to throw pucks on net. Mercer intercepted a pass in the offensive zone but was denied by Nedeljkovic. McLeod did a good job controlling the puck along the boards and eventually setting up a shot by Hamilton and Wood. Zetterlund was denied by a sprawling Nedeljkovic after leaving a big rebound off of a Tatar blast from the point with 5:46 left in the period.

Detroit dialed up the physicality after Ben Chiarot laid a big hit on Haula along the boards, which got a rise out of the crowd at Little Caesars Arena. Robert Haag boarded Miles Wood (no call, for whatever reason) and then shied away from dropping the mitts when challenged by Wood. Graves made a bad pass in the defensive zone that got picked off but fortunately nothing came of it. Detroit caught the Devils in a 2-on-1 moments later but Raymond missed on the pass. Literally right after the referees missed McLeod being tripped, Holtz tripped Perron with 32.2 seconds left to give Detroit another power play, but the Devils got a clear to finish the period and go to the locker room up 4-1.

Third Period

The Devils had little trouble killing off the remainder of the Red Wings power play, highlighted by Siegenthaler dominating along the boards against one of the larger Red Wings players. Tatar flipped a backhander that was gloved by Nedeljkovic. Severson flipped a puck over the glass in the defensive zone to put Detroit back on the power play. Vanecek stonewalled Sundqvist on what has been Detroit’s most dangerous chance thus far. Sharangovich cleared with :50 left on the power play. Detroit had one last chance as they fed a pass down low that was picked off and cleared as Severson exited the box. Erne picked off a sloppy pass from Wood which led to a scoring chance, but Vanecek stopped Sundqvist again and the Devils cleared. Marino intercepted a pass in the offensive zone which led to a chance by Zetterlund that was turned away with 12:04 remaining in regulation.

Detroit pulled within two as Robert Hagg collected the puck below the goal line and sent it out in front for Dominik Kubalik. Alex Holtz was in the passing lane but didn’t get a stick on it, so of course Kubalik buried the one-timer to make it 4-2 Devils.

Hischier and Zetterlund came right back for a chance. Zetterlund created some space with how he drove to the net, but Hischier’s show was wide. Hamilton was all alone in the neutral zone as the Red Wings were caught in a line change. Hamilton deked Nedeljkovic, but the young goaltender just poked it away to deny him. Brendan Smith laid out a big hit that drew the ire of the Red Wings fans, but no call. Zetterlund continued to press the issue but was stopped by Nedeljkovic again.

Detroit almost connected on a seam pass for Raymond on the doorstep but it was tipped away. Vanecek stopped a lightning-fast feed for Haag in front that Wood didn’t bother to cover and fell to his back to cover up a potential loose puck. Hronek put one on net that Vanecek stopped for his 18th save to this point.

The Devils finally put Detroit away as Tatar came in hard, made a spin move, and found Hischier right in front of the net to bury what was essentially an empty net goal as Nedeljkovic was way out of position. 5-2 Devils.

Jesper Bratt put the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae as he took a feed from Michael McLeod in the neutral zone, gained a head of steam, and went top shelf on Nedeljkovic to make it 6-2 New Jersey with 3:33 left.

Those final two Devils goals sent the Red Wings fans in attendance heading for the exits. Devils win 6-2.


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: You can read the Detroit perspective of this game over at Winging It In Motown

Things I Liked and Didn’t Like From The Game

  • I LIKED that the Devils didn’t panic after a slow start and played their game. They peppered Nedeljkovic with plenty of shots and were rewarded for their efforts. I thought they played very well defensively over the first 40 minutes, Larkin goal aside, and limited the chances Detroit had both in terms of quantity and quality. They more closely resembled the team that played well and won against Anaheim, the Islanders, and San Jose than the one that got ran out of the building in their three losses. More of this, please.
  • I DID NOT LIKE the Devils approach for most of the third as they were trying to salt the game away and secure the win. Ken Daneyko was spot on about making the smart play, going north-south as opposed to east-west, and chipping the puck out of the defensive zone. These were things that the Devils were not doing. Severson’s penalty for a puck over the glass didn’t do the Devils any favors either. I don’t know if they were just getting tired after playing a back-to-back, careless, or flat-out getting beat, but I need to see this Devils team not let up in winnable games where they have the lead. I’m operating under the assumption that between the defensive lapses and questionable goaltending, no lead is safe. The Devils should as well. Fortunately, the Devils ultimately did get the two late goals to put the game away. This is all part of the growing process of digging deep and learning how to finish games and the Devils ultimately got there, its just that they took a rocky path in doing so.
  • I LIKED Zetterlund’s game in particular, even though he didn’t find the scoresheet. I don’t think he deserved a seat in the press box in the first place, and he played with the type of energy tonight that should hopefully keep him from getting a return trip there.
  • I LIKE that Bratt made up for his brainfart last night with a big three point effort. He’s now up to 3 goals and 9 assists on the young season, and while we’re dealing with small sample sizes, players who are playing at a 1.7 PPG pace are generally good. Defensive miscues are more tolerable when you’re a potential 100 point player. We don’t know what his long-term contract talks looked like this offseason, but as Alex said earlier this week, it’s never too soon early to talk contract extension. The longer this drags out, the more expensive it will be. Please, pay the man.
  • I LIKE that Nico Hischier appears to be playing the best hockey of his young career, as with his goal tonight he too is at a PPG pace. More importantly though, he is contributing in so many areas that the Devils need. Penalty killing, tough matchups, getting to dirty areas, board work, and yes, even faceoffs. He’s doing it all right now.
  • I LIKED that Hughes found the back of the net. He’s gotten off to a bit of a slower start but is now up to 2 G and 3 A in 7 games. Considering how big a part of the offense he has been, I would imagine he’ll start putting up points in bunches soon and the Devils will be better off for it.
  • For the most part, I LIKED Wood back on the fourth line with McLeod and Bastian. While I think he has been fine with Haula and Tatar the last few games, I think the Devils might be a better team with a Middle Six spot opened up for the aforementioned Zetterlund. I’d say the same as well for Alex Holtz who I didn’t think was awful tonight, but since he didn’t look good on the Kubalik goal, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lindy Ruff stapled him to the bench for another five games or so. Assuming Palat was simply out for a maintenance day, I’d expect him to draw in for Holtz Friday against Colorado.
  • I DID NOT LIKE the explanation, or lack thereof, in regards to the supposed coaches challenge on the Hughes goal in the first period. I was like many of you that was under the impression that Detroit was challenging the play because a) they literally announced it and b) the Red Wings might have thought Erik Haula made contact with Alex Nedeljkovic in front. As a result, we were questioning why the Devils didn’t receive a power play for said failed challenge. Yes, we ultimately got clarification at the start of the second period that it wasn’t actually reviewed, but I shouldn’t have to Google the NHL rule book or check Mike Morreale’s Twitter feed to see if I missed something here. We went the final few minutes of regulation and the entire intermission with nothing mentioned about this particular play. Normally, the MSG Broadcast is good, but this was one time where they dropped the ball for the viewers at home.
  • Speaking of which, I LIKED that Bill Spaulding (who to be clear, I like and think has done a good job so far) went on and on and on and made such a big deal about the size of the Soderblom-Rasmussen-Sundqvist line....only for them to do nothing in this game. Just like last game when the same thing happened. As the wise philosopher Jedi Grand Master Yoda once said, “Size matters not”.
  • Since its sort of on the topic in regards to size and toughness, I DID NOT LIKE that Robert Hagg had no interest in dropping the gloves after he boarded Miles Wood and was confronted about it. There’s actually being tough and tough to play against, and then there’s the “fake tough guy” who cowers away when challenged after he started it. This was closer to being the latter, and now that the Devils won, we can have a laugh about it.
  • Lastly, I LIKED that Luke Hughes was in attendance, but I DON’T LIKE leaving Mom hanging. C’mon man!

Hopefully, we see Luke make his NHL debut later this season after a successful sophomore season at Michigan.

Final Thoughts

The Devils got off to a bit of a rough start in the first five minutes of this game that saw them trail 1-0, but once they got their legs under them, their speed and talent won out as they dominated the run of play through the end of the second period. The Devils made some questionable decisions with the puck that gave Detroit a brief glimmer of hope in the third as they hung around, but Nico Hischier scored a big goal to ice it and Jesper Bratt put an exclamation point on this game as the Devils got a small measure of revenge for their loss to Detroit earlier in the season. The Devils return home on Friday for a date with the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, so things aren’t about to get any easier.

What did you think of the game today? Are you as pleased as I was with how the Devils won this game? Please feel free to leave a comment on tonight’s game and thanks for reading!