The Devils 3rd line and the Caps 4th line started the game. McLeod got called for hooking Hathaway who was flying toward the net. The lone mishap on the kill was letting Johansson get behind the defense and Vanecek stopped him. Mercer, Hischier, and Haula had some offensive zone possession but no shots. Strome and Ovechkin turned a play into a 2 on 1 last second and Vanecek made a pad save on Ovi. The Devils gave up another 2 on 1 and Eller ripped a shot off the crossbar. Finally the Devils got one of their own with Hischier and Zetterlund and Hischier shot it wide from far out. Ovechkin took a penalty after fanning on a pass attempt. Tatar and Bratt almost had a 2 on 1 but Ovechkin got back in time. The second unit started the power play and after the first 30 seconds the puck came out of play. The Caps got a clear. After they got set up Hamilton took a shot from the point. Mercer banged the rebound off Lindgren’s pad and Hischier put the rebound of the rebound in to make it 1-0 Devils. Bastian hasn’t been out there in a while after taking a hard hit from Oshie. McLeod and Wood had a 2 on 1 but McLeod delayed too long and the Caps got back. Siegenthaler got called for holding Sheary after he lost his stick. The remainder of the period was pretty much just Vanecek making saves and Devils blocking shots. Devils need some more offensive pressure. The Capitals don’t look like a below .500 team in this one. Capitals have 10 shots and Devils 11 blocks after the first period.
The first several minutes of the second period saw back and forth action with few shots for either team. Jack Hughes got bored of this and skated behind the Caps goal line and banked the puck off Lindgren’s left pad and in. 2-0 Devils. Kuznetsov shot a puck that went trough Vanecek but trickled wide. The Capitals have done a good job of shutting down the Devils offense this far, but the Devils decided to change that. Marino shot a wrister with Haula in Lindgren’s house, accidentally knocking him down. The puck didn’t go in, and there was no whistle. Mercer, Hughes, and Marino were controlling play. Hughes took the puck on the left side and shot it off the side of Lindgren’s mask and in, making it 3-0 Devils. Hathaway was called for interference as he collided with an unknowing Michael McLeod. It seemed like an accidental collision rather than a penalty, but Devils to the play play nonetheless.
The puck came to Eller at the doorstep but he fanned on the shot. Mercer had a takeaway in the Caps zone and the Devils almost had a scoring chance. Siegenthaler took a hooking penalty. Caps to the pp. Vanecek’s 30th save of the game was the last save of the power platy on an Ovechkin wrister. Milano had a chance in front and Vanecek just got the glove on it, deflecting the shot off the post as Milano fell down. On the Devils next rush, Haula got it to Hamilton to sent it cross ice to Sharangovich but the pass hopped over his stick. Haula blocked a Gustafsson shot at the point and went the other way. He passed it across to Hughes who buried it for the hat trick. Wood took a holding call, sending the Caps to their 4th power play of the game. Marino lost his stick, getting Hischier’s. With the Devils having 3.5 players on the ice, Carlson took the opportunity to blast a shot past Vanecek, ending the shutout bid. Still 4-1 Devils. Hughes had a 2 on 1 but fanned on the shot. He got the puck again and tried from the opposite corner of his previous goals and this time Lindgren made the save. Off an OZ faceoff the puck went behind the net. McLeod centered to Zetterlund who one timed it for the 5th Devils goal of the game, with a big celebration. Off the faceoff Milano took a penalty for hooking Siegenthaler. Oshie knocked Zetterlund down. Oshie was penalized, and so was Zetterlund, who did nothing wrong. The power play and the rest of the game was pretty uneventful, ending with a 5-1 Devils victory.
After a hit from Oshie in the 1st, Bastian left the bench. We received an update from the Devils twitter account after the second:
#NEWS: F Nathan Bastian (upper body) will not return to tonight’s game.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 27, 2022
Bastian has an upper body injury. On the broadcast Bill and Dano said it looked like his shoulder was hurting when he went off after the hit. Mercer took his spot on the PP and the bottom 6 rotated for the rest of the game.
Holtz had the OT winner for Utica from Johnsson tonight. Both players are at or above a point per game for Utica this season so either one should be a fine replacement for Bastian if he’s out for any length of time.
This was Lindy Ruff’s 800th win as an NHL head coach, the most among all active HCs. Quite a turnaround for him this season. After the first 2 games it looked like his job was in serious doubt. Since then the Devils have lost only 2 games and won 18. The Devils have 6 points and a game in hand against the second-place Islanders. Ruff is the favorite for the Jack Adams at this point of the season and he very well may win. Goaltending was the number one difference between this year and last year, but the voters don’t usually look at things like that. They just see what team outperformed media expectations the most, and the Devils have probably been that team so far. But anyway, whether he ends up winning or not, congrats to Lindy on his 800th win, and hopefully he’ll get his first cup in NJ in the next couple of years. 800 is a big number.
It seems like the Devils-Capitals matchup has seen some games over the last few years where the Devils deserved to win or shots were at least pretty even. Today’s game was the other way around. According to the deserve to win o’meter, the Devils were the better team for the first two periods, but I know the shot total was pretty even. In the third the Capitals took control over the DTWOM, but the game ended with a 5-1 Devils victory. The Capitals have been the team getting the saves and goals, and finally the Devils were the team getting saves and goals and the Capitals were not. The Devils win when they deserve to win and they win when maybe they don’t deserve to win.
Fleecing the Caps
Vitek Vanecek had 37 saves on 38 shots and was very important in this Devils win. They got him from the Capitals over the offseason. The cost? Just a 3rd round pick. It looks like the Caps’ll be regretting that one. But the deal with the Devils they’ll regret the most was at the 2021 trade deadline. With the expansion draft looming, Washington received nothing but a 3rd round pick to send a certain Jonas Siegenthaler to New Jersey. Siegenthaler has since become possibly the best defensive defenseman in the NHL and an extremely important piece of the Devils D core for a very reasonable price. The top pair of him and Hamilton has been fantastic. Those two trades should haunt Washington for years to come, especially if this game signals a change in the dynamic between the teams, where previously the Caps have wiped the floor with the Devils the past few seasons.
Throwing Stuff on the Ice
Devils fan threw stuff on the ice today, even after the jumbotron said not to before the game. But today they weren’t throwing beer and garbage, they were throwing hats for Jack Hughes’ first NHL hat trick. Congrats to Jack. Matt Loughlin showed off some of the hats thrown on the ice from behind the glass. There were some nice ones fans were willing to part with to celebrate the hat trick. No complaints about throwing things on the ice this time I hope.
The Devils have won 15 of their last 16 games. Did the Devils victory over a team that’s had their number signal a new era in Devils hockey to you? Happy for Lindy? What did you think of the team’s performance tonight? Think a new extended win streak is in order? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and thank you for reading.