The New Jersey Devils got things started retrieving the puck from their zone before Dawson Mercer nearly found a cutting Tomas Tatar towards the net, but they couldn’t connect. The Seattle Kraken slowed the pace down before getting the puck deep and eventually setting up Jamie Oleksiak for a shot from the point that Nico Daws turned aside. The Devils came back with a Damon Severson shot from the slot that Phillip Grubauer turned away. Seattle cleared the puck, but the Devils caught the Kraken in transition and Andreas Johnsson found Jesper Bratt with a nice seam pass for Bratt’s 25th goal of the season and a 1-0 Devils lead. With 70 points on the season, Bratt became the first Devil to top that mark since Taylor Hall in 2017-18.
The Devils continued to apply pressure off of the Bratt goal but not much came from it. After a defensive zone draw, the Devils fourth line gained the zone and continued to rack up the offensive zone time but Seattle eventually cleared it. Bratt nearly picked up his second goal of the game off of a feed from Dawson Mercer. Fabian Zetterlund turned the puck over in the offensive zone leading to a Seattle chance the other way but Dougie Hamilton did a nice job getting back on defense. Karson Kuhlman caught Hamilton up high with his stick to give the Devils their first chance on the power play after the first TV timeout.
Seattle got a quick clear and a second clear as the Devils wasted most of the first minute of the man advantage. The Devils eventually gained the zone but cleared the puck themselves with an errant pass by Pavel Zacha back to the point. Carson Soucy got one final clear as time expired and the Devils power play is now 0 for their last 22.
The Kraken caught the Devils in a partial change to gain the offensive zone, working the puck down low for Victor Rask. Rask fed Will Borgen in the slot and the young defenseman ripped it by Daws to tie the game at 1.
The Devils came right back with a partial 2-on-1 but Nathan Bastian couldn’t handle the pass cleanly, killing the scoring chance. Grubauer made a nice glove save on a Yegor Sharangovich shot for a stoppage with 6:03 to go in the first.
Seattle started to take it to the Devils off of the commercial break but Daws stopped a couple shots from old friend Adam Larsson. The Devils came back gaining the offensive zone with Jesper Boqvist feeding Pavel Zacha in the slot. The Kraken decided to overload to defend Zacha for some reason (probably because Zacha with his hands of stone bobbled the feed from Boqvist), and Zacha sent the puck back to Jesper Boqvist in the high slot for the goal to regain the lead.
Jesp keeps paying off to be a Jesper. pic.twitter.com/K71Xz4nBiy— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 17, 2022
The Kraken sprung Sprong for a breakaway opportunity but he was off the mark with his shot attempt. Seattle continued to apply pressure with Yanni Gourde just missing on a redirected puck towards the net. The Devils finally got a clear. Seattle got a couple decent looks late in the period but no such luck and the Devils take a 2-1 lead to the locker room after a solid 20 minutes of play.
The Devils eventuallly settled things down off of the opening draw to start the second period but were offside 28 seconds into the period. Tomas Tatar slashed Will Borgen to give Seattle their first power play opportunity. The Devils got a quick clear and another one after the Kraken regained the zone. Seattle regained the zone again and Daws made a stop on a shot by Matty Beniers. The Devils got another clear off of a blocked Carson Soucy shot and McLeod cleared the puck with about 10 seconds left on a solid penalty kill by New Jersey.
The Devils got a solid look after Nico Hischier stripped Karson Kuhlman of the puck in the offensive zone. Hischier fed Severson, who found Fabian Zetterlund for a clean look but the timing was just off. The Kraken nearly tied the game coming back the other way as play has really opened up early in the period. Zacha went the other way and failed to hit the net with a riser off of the glass. The Kraken came right back with a Kole Lind shot that Daws got a piece of and went off the post. Seattle turned the puck over in their end leading to a Bratt shot that was deflected away, as defensive play for both teams is clearly optional at this point.
New Jersey got another power play opportunity with Vince Dunn going to the box for hooking. Riley Sheahan hounded Dougie Hamilton on a pass to the point which nearly led to a scoring chance the other way. Zacha’s stick failed him on a look off of a faceoff and a Bastian shot was deflected out of play. The Devils got the second unit on after a Seattle clear and while the Devils did a better job moving the puck, Grubauer made a save off of a Zetterlund one-timer shot. Seattle got one final clear to kill off the rest of the power play.
Jamie Oleksiak held Tatar to give the Devils their third power play. Hischier won the draw but Zacha’s wrister was stopped by Grubauer for a stoppage. The Devils controlled things off of the ensuing draw as the puck trickled out in front for Zacha again, but Seattle stopped the puck and the refs lost sight of it for the whistle. The Kraken finally got a clear a minute into the power play and another quick clear. Mercer tried to backhand one in off of a broken play but Grubauer denied him. Seattle got one final clear to deny the Devils yet again. The Beniers line gained the zone but Daws made a couple saves off of shots from Larsson and Oleksiak.
The Kraken tied the game moments later as Gourde flipped the puck into the offensive zone and Damon Severson batted the puck down. Jared McCann picked up the loose puck as the Devils overloaded towards him and nobody picked up Carson Soucy on the backside. Soucy made the Devils pay for their lackadaisical defensive play and tied the game up at 2.
Kevin Bahl tripped up one of the Kraken players in the neutral zone to give the Kraken a chance on the power play. Seattle won the draw and Daws stopped Sprong in front. The Devils got a clear off of the ensuing draw, but the Kraken regained the zone and found Sprong alone for a good scoring chance that Daws made the glove save on. Seattle took control off of the faceoff with Jared McCann getting a shot on net and then tipping it over to Beniers for his first career goal and a 3-2 Seattle lead.
Play slowed down to a glacial pace over the final minute of the second. Seattle spent most of the final minute in the Devils end with the puck but couldn’t get another shot on net and took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. Overall, it was a terrible second period by the Devils highlighted by the Devils inept power play and questionable defensive play. Lindy Ruff wasn’t happy with what he saw and shook up the lines early in the third period.
Zacha-Hischier-Bratt— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) April 17, 2022
The Devils got the puck in deep to start the third and after the puck got tied up in Bratt and Zacha’s skates, the Devils eventually got a shot on net that Grubauer saved and the Kraken cleared. Daws stopped a shot by Kuhlman on the other end. Seattle kept the offensive zone but the Devils eventually settled things down. Yegor Sharangovich stole the puck from a Kraken defenseman and had a decent look in front that was denied. The Kraken came back in transition with Daws saving a shot from the point by Haydn Fleury. Seattle turned the puck over in the defensive zone and McLeod did a nice job along the boards to find Severson on the backdoor to tie the game 3-3.
The Devils iced the puck with 12:46 to go in regulation. Fortunately, the Devils settled things down to get a clear, but the Kraken came right back and Daws had to make a sprawling cover off of a Larsson shot from the point for the stoppage.
After a quiet few minutes, Tomas Tatar sent a sharp angle feed on net, leaving a juicy rebound opportunity for Michael McLeod, but McLeod was out of position to take advantage of it. The Kraken came back with a Vince Dunn shot that was stopped by Daws and poked into the corner. The Devils returned the favor with a Kevin Bahl shot that Grubauer made a pad save on and a Dougie Hamilton shot that was denied as well.
The Devils tried to set up Hischier cutting to the front of the net but couldn’t connect. Zetterlund and Larsson collided, which drew a rise from the home crowd. The makeshift second line of Sharangovich-Boqvist-Kuokkanen did a nice job sustaining pressure and setting up PK Subban, but for approximately the 294th time for him as a Devil, his stick failed him. The Kraken nearly broke the tie as Sprong gained the zone and made a move to beat Kevin Bahl, but couldn’t finish the play.
Seattle nearly took the lead again as a feed in front for Kulkman was partially blocked by Hamilton. The Kraken iced the puck with 2:43 to go. The Devils controlled the puck off the faceoff with Subban finally getting a shot on net, but Grubauer made the glove save. The Devils won the ensuing faceoff but Bastian turned the puck over with a centering try in front. Sprong was offside for Seattle with 2:00 left and the Kraken iced the puck again. Seattle iced the puck a third time, but the Kraken eventually got a clear. Nico Daws took a whack at Yanni Gourde who went to the net to stir things up after a stoppage. Colton White chipped the puck out to center but Seattle continued to apply pressure. Seattle didn’t do much in the final seconds of regulation though, so we’re headed to overtime tied at 3.
The Devils started out overtime with the trio of Hischier-Bratt-Severson. They gained the zone but quickly lost the puck and Seattle reset, getting Beniers and Eberle on. Zacha, Sharangovich, and Hamilton came on and eventually got set up, but Hamilton’s wrister was saved by Grubauer. The Kraken kept the play alive and caught the Devils in a change but turned the puck over in the offensive zone. Jesper Boqvist came back the other way and wound up being offsides. Seattle won the faceoff and gained the zone but the pass went off Oleksiak’s skate, giving the Devils a chance the other way. Hischier was deliberate and passed up an opportunity to shoot as the Devils made a change and tried to get a better look. They did not though, as Zacha made a blind pass towards the middle of the ice that was intercepted. Matty Beniers flashed some of the skill that made him the #2 overall pick of last year’s draft, flipping the puck to himself and making a power move towards the net, which led to Pavel Zacha knocking him down in front to potentially save the goal and give the Kraken a 4-on-3 power play with 1:15 to go. After a Seattle timeout, they controlled the faceoff and did a nice job working the puck down low, but Daws was on top of things to cover up the loose puck. The Devils got a clear and another clear with just over 30 seconds left in overtime. After a critical Bahl block in front, Daws’s net got knocked off the moorings with 21.3 seconds to go, giving the Devils a chance to change personnel. The Devils took their timeout and after Seattle won the faceoff, the Devils flipped a loose puck in front of the crease out of the zone to send us to the skills competition.
Ryan Donato was up first for Seattle and easily beat Daws on a pump fake to go up 1-0. Tomas Tatar shot first for the Devils and came in with a head of steam but Grubauer denied his five-hole attempt. Matty Beniers was up next and rang it off the pipe. Jesper Bratt was up second for the Devils and was also stopped five-hole by Grubauer. Daniel Sprong came up with a chance to clinch it for Seattle but ran out of space in front to get a clean shot off. Yegor Sharangovich was the Devils last chance to extend the game, but he ripped the puck off the post and the Kraken win 4-3 in the shootout.
The Opposition Opinion: Visit Davy Jones Locker Room if you want to read the Kraken perspective of this game.
Things I Did Not Like
- The Devils Power Play continues to be atrocious, extending their streak of futility to 9 scoreless games and 0 for their last 24. They haven’t scored with the man advantage since Jack Hughes scored a PPG in the Devils 3-2 win over Montreal on March 27th, and to make matters worse, they failed to generate any momentum off of it as well. But at least they didn’t give up their 12th shorthanded goal of the season.
- Both Lindy Ruff and Damon Severson made a point postgame to mention that the Devils miss Jack Hughes on the top power play unit. I would caution that the power play wasn’t particularly good as a unit with Jack Hughes, although again, I blame Recchi moreso than the players for the two-season long stretch of ineptitude with the man advantage. However, I do agree with the bold sentiment that a bad hockey team may be missing one of their best players as they play out the stretch.
- I did not love the first two Kraken goals in this game. Seattle caught the Devils on a line change for the Borgen goal (which has happened a few times recently), gaining the zone too easily as a result. On the second goal, the Devils overloaded which led to nobody picking up Carson Soucy on his goal. To make matters worse, Lindy Ruff decided he saw something he didn’t like from Dawson Mercer (who was on the ice for both goals), as he only played two shifts in the third period. Mercer was one of the players who overloaded on the Soucy goal, so that might’ve been why Ruff decided he’s seen enough, but I’m generally not in favor of anything that leads to a bigger role for Michael McLeod (who, to his credit, was fine tonight)
- There’s only so many times I can keep saying it without sounding like a broken record, but tonight was another reminder of why the Devils would be smart to move on from this coaching staff in its entirety once the season finally comes to an end. The mistakes, the breakdowns, the ineptitude on special teams....its not going to change until they make changes at the top. 7 games to go...
- The Devils undid a lot of the good they did in the first period with a terrible second period at 5v5. Posting an xGF of 24.16% and ultimately being outscored 2-0 in actual, real goals (granted, the one goal was on a Kraken PP) isn’t gonna cut it, as the Devils aren’t talented enough to no-show full 20 minute periods and expect to win.
- If you’re in the camp that Pavel Zacha does more harm than good, it was annoying watching #37 tonight. He did pick up a primary assist on the Boqvist goal, so give him credit there, but there were also a lot of errant passes and shots that missed the net. The Devils made a point to force feed him on the third power play so he did get some shots on net, but it seems questionable to even have him in that spot in the first place when he’s had trouble finishing for months (Zacha has 5 goals since December 10th). I get the power play is a mess, but perhaps try someone who can actually shoot in that spot like Yegor Sharangovich instead. Zacha might’ve saved a goal in overtime with his penalty, but he also eliminated any chance of the Devils avoiding the shootout altogether since they had to kill a penalty in the final 75 seconds of overtime. Just a frustrating night for Zacha.
- Phillip Grubauer has struggled mightily this year, so I don’t love ‘only’ getting 26 shots on net in 65 minutes of action. Credit Seattle for clogging shooting lanes and blocking shots, but the Devils missed the net too much for my liking and didn’t make the struggling veteran work hard enough.
- How many times is PK Subban’s stick going to break on a slapper before somebody sits down with him and examines why this continues to be a thing?
- If you want the Devils to take the Sherman Abrams tanking approach down the stretch, the Bettman point tonight pulled them two points ahead of Philadelphia for 29th overall and two points behind Chicago for 27th overall. All of those teams have seven games remaining. It should also be noted the Devils have three more regulation or overtime wins than Chicago, so if the Devils tie the Blackhawks in the standings, they pass Chicago.
What did you think of the loss tonight? What else is there even to say about the power play at this point? What else stood out to you, positively or negatively? Please feel free to leave a comment on tonight’s game and thanks for reading!