.The Hughes line started and a couple odd bounces gave the Devils some near-chances. The Hischier line was next and drew an icing. The Hughes line came back and looked good again. Blueger went the other way and Okhotiuk got called for a hook that looked rather like a simple stick lift to me. A shot deflected around and the Penguins had a few whacks at in front but Vanecek was there. Mercer blocked a shot out of the zone, after a couple failed clearing attempts by Haula earlier. As soon as Okhotiuk was out of the box, Hughes went on the attack and was taken down by Kapanen for a Devils power play. The Penguins cleared and Mcginn almost took it away from Hischier. Hamilton recovered, but the puck bounced and Mcginn managed a shot shorthanded. The Devils got the puck off the faceoff and got set up. Hughes set up Bratt for a one timer cross ice and Jarry made the save. The Devils kept possession and the first unit on the ice. A shot went wide and out of the zone. The Penguins cleared off the next zone entry and killed the remainder of the power play. Wood Mercer and Haula kept the momentum going with a bit of cycling before the Penguins cleared.
The next few shifts were a bit uneventful. The Penguins top line then had a shift with some sustained pressure in the Devils zone, but they managed to clear the puck unscathed.
The Devils had controlled play and held the Penguins without a shot for 10 minutes, but Malkin pickpocketed Dougie at the point and scored on a breakaway.
Crosby turned the puck over to Hughes in the Penguins zone and Jarry made the save. The Penguins then cycled in the Devils zone and Rakell ran into Vanecek
Bahl shoved Poehling after Vanecek made a save. Wood came in and gave Poehling a shove and he got called for roughing.
Crosby got called for slashing Smith’s stick out of his hands. 4 on 4 for :46. The Devils controlled the 4 on 4 and kept possession with Wood coming out of the box. A pass went past the point and out and the Devils got called for offside trying to regain the zone with 9 seconds left.
The Penguins killed off the rest of the power play but just as it was ending the Devils got possession in the Penguins zone. They had a couple shot attempts and Jarry held one for a faceoff.
The Devils had a good rush play but Bratt missed the shot high. Malkin deflected a shot in the high slot and Vanecek made the save. Heinen got the puck on a turnover and walked into the slot but shot it wide.
Hamilton received a pass at the right circle, faked a shot around Crosby to open a lane, and scored, but it was called no goal for interference. Haula was guided into the crease, and then ran into Jarry’s blocker. I’m not sure how much it interfered with Jarry’s ability to make a save, but they’ve been strict on GI this year, so I was expecting the call to be confirmed. Devils to the kill. Penguins didn’t have much going until 40 seconds left when they had some movement and a shot, but McLeod cleared. Hischier and Sharangovich had a 2 on 1 shorthanded but Hischier shot it right into Pettersson. Right after the penalty expired, Blueger was called for tripping Hamilton.
On the power play Hamilton passed to Hughes who was open at the left circle. He walked in and fired it off the white bar and out to tie the game. Penguins were then assessed a bench minor for abuse of officials. This power play was messy. The Penguins came out firing after the penalty with the Crosby line. He almost deflected a shot in, got sandwiched by 2 guys, and then another Penguin had a shot from the slot that Vanecek turned away.
Bahl took a holding penalty along the boards in the defensive zone. The Penguins had lots of shot attempts on the power play and the Devils only had one clear and no change, but they survived, included holding the puck along the boards for a few seconds. The Devils cleared but only got 1 guy changed. Joseph and Carter skated into the slot and Carter’s shot/pass? deflected off Siegenthaler and in. 1-0 Penguins.
The Devils then got called for delay of game for seemingly no reason. Even after the game, I checked yahoo and they have nothing listed, just 2 minutes served by Tatar. The Devils cleared, and then McLeod had a takeaway and a shorthanded shot wide. Rust broke his stick on a one timer attempt with 7 seconds left. The puck bounced off the boards to Vanecek and he covered. Bratt and Boqvist were next and they had some passing in the offensicve zone. Bratt fell down trying a between the legs move. I didn’t see if there was a penalty or not but there was no call. The Penguins got into the Devils zone and Boqvist almost shot the puck into his own net, but fortunately, it went past the crease and across to the other side.
Matt Loughlin was talking to Rino Hischier, who wished for a goal. Just as he did, a point shot was knocked down and came right to Mercer, who passed to a pinching Hamilton for a goal. Tie game.
Sharangovich took a high-sticking penalty in front of the Penguins net. 6th power play of the game for Pittsburgh.
In the final minute of the period McLeod and Hischier went 2 on 2 shorthanded. McLeod passed across to Hischier, who got by Malkin (not a defenseman!) and fired a wrister far side past Jarry for the Devils first lead of the game!
Carter took a penalty for interference, which was a bit ridiculous. He and Severson randomly brushed into each other at the Devils blue line and they called it. Dumoulin had a shot with a second left on the 4 on 4 and Vanecek made a good save to protect the lead.
About 1:40 of Devils power play to start the game. With 1:22 left in the power play Hughes was high-sticked by Dumoulin. 5 on 3 for the Devils. Ruff used his timeout. Hughes took the first shot on goal and the Devils poked at it until the ref lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle. Holtz came on for Tatar. The puck hit the net after just a few seconds for a do over. Blueger won the draw and Rutta cleared. Hamilton took a slapshot from the point that Jarry held. The puck skittered away from the Devils off the draw and Pittsburgh cleared. After the Devils regained the zone they had 32 seconds left on the second power play, and Hischier skated into Rutta and fell into Jarry. He got called for GI, the 13th penalty of the game. Holtz was open for a while on the 5 on 3, but they Devils didn’t get him the puck. The Devils sent the puck all the way down after the Penguins penalty expired. The puck got trapped against the boards with :41 left in the power play and play was stopped. McLeod broke up a pass and almost had a breakaway but Ty Smith recovered and forced him to shoot from far out. Malkin got the puck in front and slid it to Crosby who was alone but he couldn’t get the shot off. Guentzel backchecked a shot away from McLeod on a Devils 3 on 2.
The Devils had a 3 on 2 and Zetterlund blasted a shot but Jarry was up to the task. Rust fell down and I thought I saw Zetterlund’s stick in his skates but there was no call on the play. I may have been mistaken. Haula had a partial breakaway and got a backhander off before flying shoulder first into the net.
Blueger went for a wraparound with Vanecek out of position but it stayed out. The Penguins had a similar chance off a faceoff but it went just wide.
The Devils took their 8th penalty of the night, a double minor. Haula was trying to turn around and his stick went into Dumoulin’s face. Rakell one touched from behind the net to Guentzel in the slot but he fanned. Rakell blew a tire trying to start the breakout and had to restart. Sharangovich worked 1 on 1 shorthanded to kill a few seconds before Joseph knocked him down. Kapanen had a shot blocked by Siegenthaler, who cleared. First 2 minutes killed. Ty Smith took a point short and there was chaos in front that ended with McLeod blocking Crosby’s shot into the net. With 46 seconds to go in the double minor, Sullivan called timeout to keep the Pens first PP unit fresh. Hischier and then Mercer had the last two clears to kill to penalty. The Devils had a 3 on 2 of Mercer, Haula, and Hughes, and Mercer shot it just wide. Bratt stole the puck behind the Penguins net with about 2:30 left and killed some time. Kaapenen went flying in and Siegs pushed him away. Jarry evacuated the net. Vanecek stopped Heinen in the slot. With 1:24 left Hischier cleared. The Devils did a good job keeping the Penguins from starting a rush and when they finally tried to getit going they weren’t over the red line for an icing. Jarry back in. Crosby won the faceoff but Smith got the puck in the Devils zone. Haula dumped in back in. Jarry back to the bench with 30 seconds left. Smith blocked a shot from Malkin. Mercer got to the puck and spun around to get it to Hughes. He and Haula had a 2 on 1 and Hughes sealed the deal with an empty netter. The final 4.1 seconds ticked away after the faceoff, and the Devils have defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 for their 13th win in 16 road games.
Vanecek and the PK
Vanecek and the penalty killers were very important in the win. The Penguins were 16 for their last 41 power plays and had a power play goal in 11 of their last 12 games. They had 8 power plays tonight and not one power play goal. Severson played over half the game. It didn’t help that Bahl was benched for the 3rd period and he and Okhotiuk played only 7:09 and 5:56 in the whole game. The Devils had more all-situations xG than the Penguins in the 30 minutes Severson played, even though 12 of those were on the PK compared to 2 on the PP. McLeod was also on the ice for 5:58 of PK time and only .55 xGA. Severson, McLeod, and Vanecek were the best penalty killers for the Devils today. Vanecek had 2.30 PK xGA and of course, 0 PK GA. 12 saves on 12 PK shots for him.
The Big 3
Hughes, Hamilton, and Hischier were the drivers of offensive for the Devils today. Hughes had the first goal on the power play and the empty netter to seal the victory. Hamilton had the equalizer at 2 and an assist on Hughes’s goal to go with it. Hischier scored the game-winning shorthanded goal. I love it when a less-talked about player plays well, but your best players are your best players for a reason, and the 3 Hs were showing why they’re the best today.
What did you think of tonight’s game? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.