The New Jersey Devils faced the Dallas Stars, who are trying to hold on to the 2nd wild card spot in the western conference, in a Saturday afternoon matchup.
The beginning of the game, as usual, saw nothing much happen. The first interesting moment happened a few minutes in. Exactly when I don’t know, as once again MSG’s scorebug clock broke. Esa Lindell tried to pick a corner from the left circle and Daws made the glove save.
Damon Severson went to the box for high sticking Jason Robertson, giving the first power play of the game to the Stars.
The Devils got a clear early and didn’t give the Stars many chances, killing the penalty.
With 9:48 left, Daws made a save on Pavelski on the doorstep.
A minute or so later, Tatar got the first decent Devils chance on a backhander in front, but Oettinger made the save.
The Devils did not have much going on offensively in the game. The Stars are a good defensive team and it was showing.
Dallas was certainly getting much more o-zone time than the Devils. It seemed like most of the play was in the New Jersey zone. The Stars were getting some chances too, but never several in a row. The Devils got a chance on a Mercer tip, but it went wide. However, the Stars did take a penalty on the play, giving the Devils their first power play of the game.
The Devils devils’d and go no shots on their power play. Following the man advantage, Kuokkanen pinned the puck to the boards and refused to move it, so eventually the refs blew the whistle.
Less than a minute in, Tomas Tatar went on a 2 on 1 and fired a shot far side. Oettinger just barely tipped it wide with his glove.
Dallas went the other way and Studenic (remember him?) set up Benn for a tip that just went wide.
AJ Greer got called for a hook in the neutral zone, giving Dallas its 2nd power play of the game.
During the power play, I forgot the Stars had a man advantage for a moment, and it did look that way, an excellent kill for the Devils.
The Stars had a few passes in the Devils zone, but eventually Boqvist got the puck out and up to Bratt, who went on a 2 on 1 with Kuokkanen. Bratt passed it across and Kuokkanen had an open net cutting to the other side, but got tripped up and couldn’t put the puck in.
Daws made a save on a Robertson tip in front.
Sharangovich had a chance in the slot, but Faksa blocked it. Shortly afterwards, Boqvist set up Zetterlund for a one timer, but Oettinger made the save.
Ty Smith got tripped up afterwards, so the Devils got their second power play... but almost right off the draw, Zacha accidentally tripped a PKer going for the puck, negating the penalty.
Daws made a save on Heiskanen in the high slot
Boqvist got called for hooking a guy breaking for the net. The first part of the kill went okay, but right after a draw, a Ryan Suter point shot beat Daws, who was being screened by Bahl, giving Dallas the first lead of the game.
With 4:06 left in the period, Zetterlund almost set up Boqvist for a top chance, but the hard pass bounced off his stick.
The Devils got called for a too many men bench minor, so the Stars went to the power play once again.
Radulov got set up for a great chance, but he hit the outside of the net. The Stars had the Devils hemmed in for a while, but eventually Sharangovich tipped a pass out of the zone. He then got himself a breakaway, but Klingberg lifted his stick, making him lose the handle.
The first half of the last minute was wild, with the Stars almost having great chances and almost scoring several times.
Boqvist showed his speed coming down the left side, but Oettinger made the save.
Ty Smith tied the game at 15:34. He received a pass from Hischier, skated forward, skated in more, and then fired a wrister past the glove of Oettinger with no one covering him.
We'd call that a perfect wrister! pic.twitter.com/VVCt0u7nIl— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 9, 2022
Shortly after, Ty Smith again skated in from the left and tried to pull it backhand, but was tripped from behind, drawing a penalty in the process.
This power play was much better than the previous ones. The Devils had some good puck movement, finally some urgency on the power play that we haven’t seen much of. Zacha had 3 shot attempts on the power play and Sharangovich had 1 good shot on the 2nd wave. As the time on the advantage wound down, Johnsson took a penalty for cross checking in front of the net.
The Devils did a good job killing the penalty. Tatar got himself a breakaway but lost the puck trying to dangle Oettinger.
With a commercial break at 5:58 left in the 3rd and the game tied 1-1, it looked like the game might be headed to overtime.
With 3:24 left in regulation, Mercer fed Sharangovich, who ripped a shot off the post
Subban had a slapper from a little bit in from the point that Oettinger made a glove save on
The clock got down to under 2 minutes, when Nico Hischier decided he’d had enough of a tie game. He got the puck in the oz, protected it, did some spin moves, passed it to Bahl, received the return pass, carried it behind the net, spun through Seguin, pushed through Seguin to the net, and beat Oettinger to give the Devils their first lead of the game with under 2 to go.
Captain Nico ➡️ Captain Clutch— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 10, 2022
Just look at him go. pic.twitter.com/afpg67LXfQ
Right off the faceoff, Severson collected the puck in his own end. A lead pass and the puck found itself on the stick of Jesper Boqvist, who skated ahead on a 2 on 1 and passed it across to Zacha, who beat Oettinger under the glove to give the Devils insurance.
Pavel Zacha scores against the Dallas Stars to make it 3-1 #DALvsNJD #TexasHockey #NJDevils pic.twitter.com/JmZetpNqaq— nopClips (@nopClips) April 9, 2022
For the first time since February 24, the Devils won a road game.
The Devils fought in this game. They went 5/6 on the penalty kill. They allowed the first goal but fought back.
Ty Smith showed signs of life. He wasn’t very noticeable, but he did show up on 2 shifts. He walked way in and scored the tying goal, and went straight for the net on his next shift and almost scored.
Nico Hischier was a captain today. With the game seemingly headed to OT, he took control in the OZ and almost entirely singlehandedly made an entire play and finished it off himself to give his team its first lead of the game. He also had the primary assist on Ty Smith’s tying goal.
Right off the faceoff after the leading goal, the Devils didn’t step off the gas. They went straight for a 2 on 1, Boqvist once again showing his speed and feeding Zacha who shot a laser into the net for insurance.
The Devils had a power play during which they showed some urgency. If they had a league average power play and league average goaltending, they might be in a playoff spot. The power play needs to be better next season. There was no urgency on it this season, and hopefully this is a good sign for next year.
Fabian Zetterlund was also a positive. He got his first 2 career points in the same game. As one of the best players for Utica, hopefully he can become a valuable asset in the national league as well.
The Devils are currently 4 points above the Kraken in the standings, although Seattle has played 1 less game. 29th place is not where this team was expected to end up. Goaltending can really save or kill a season.
The bad players in today’s game were Greer and McLeod. They each had 0 5v5 on-ice corsi for and 9 against. Greer is just an AHL call-up and not really a prospect, but you want a better stat line from the guy you expect to be your 4C for the foreseeable future. McLeod has had a mix of linemates this season whereas last year he was pretty consistently with Bastian and one of Wood/Kuokkanen, so hopefully it’s just dealing with new things or a sophomore slump for Motor Mike and he’ll bounce back next year.
The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats
Great game for Hischier and Zetterlund! Thoughts Smith and the power play showing signs of life? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.