Martin Jones in net for the Kraken, Mackenzie Blackwood in for the Devils. Nathan Bastian back into the lineup after injury. Nico Hischier out for the first faceoff with Ondrej Palat and Jesper Bratt. Erik Haula is back on Jack Hughes’ wing, alongside Dawson Mercer. The teams exchange rush chances early with both goaltenders making pad saves. The Kraken have the first press of the game playing with a lot of urgency in the offensive zone, putting a lot of shots on net. Blackwood makes a good save as Matty Beniers has a dangerous chance in the slot. 5-1 Kraken in shots five minutes in. Blackwood has started well, looking sharp. The Devils, again, looking slow out of the gate.
After the first TV-timeout Hughes turns the puck over, passing it out into the slot from behind the net, but the Seattle tip goes high. Bastian, in his first game back, takes a penalty for kneeing on Carson Soucy; luckily, as Soucy fell down hurt his stick came up into the face of Miles Wood, meaning we go to 4-on-4 rather than the kill for the Devils. Jonas Siegenthaler had a big 93 mph slapper saved off a feed from Hischier. The Devils continue to try breakout passes through the slot and Kraken almost capitalise. Jesper Boqvist then has a partial breakaway saved under pressure from the Kraken defenseman. Vince Dunn fires one on coming down the right side with speed, but Blackwood makes a good glove save, his eighth of the game.
Ryan Donato makes it 1-0 Kraken on a good short-side shot as the Devils were changing giving the Kraken time. 11-4 shots with 7 to go. Siegenthaler turns it over to Jordan Eberle, who came in alone but was stopped by Blackwood, who also got the rebound. Very sloppy, tired effort so far from the Devils. After the TV-timeout, Eberle had another great chance, but Blackwood stoned him, sprawling after going side-to-side. Again, Blackwood looks really good. Bratt has a chance in tight after being set up by Hischier, but he did not have enough space to manuever, and Jones makes the save, and makes the rebound save on Palat. We again go to the 4-on-4 as Haula and Will Borgen slash one another — allegedly; on the replay it looks like Haula was the only one slashing. Again, the Devils should be on the kill but are treated kindly by the referees. Devils-killer Oliver Björkstrand has a dangerous wrap-around that he sends through the crease under pressure from the Devils defense. Donato takes the shot on a 2-on-1, stopped by Blackwood. The Devils are creating some opportunities, but the Kraken have more of the dangerous chances. The Devils go into the first intermission down one, largely out-played in the first, although shots had evened out somewhat, 15-10. Hopefully they pick it up in the second.
The reunited BMW line almost scores early, as Bastian gloves down an attempted clearance in the slot and put its on net. Siegenthaler has a good lobbed clear, allowing the tired Devils to change after a long shift. Mercer tips one high off a point shot from Damon Severson, who had more time than he thought. Even start to the second, with few notable chances five minutes in. On a two-on-one, after Nikita Okhotiuk couldn’t handle the puck at the offensive blueline under pressure from Jared McCann, Ryan Donato again scores high on Blackwood, pretty much identical to his go-ahead goal. 2-0 Kraken, a long way back now for the Devils. Shortly thereafter, the Kraken press, with a scramble in the Devils’ blue paint, with Blackwood on his back. I suspect Lindy Ruff will shake up the lines sooner rather than later, as these combinations haven’t really got anything going.
Hughes dances in to the offensive zone, passes it off to Tatar who tries to slide it short side, but Jones makes the save and then denies Haula on the rebound. Tatar drew a penalty on Daniel Sprong, sending the Devils to the powerplay. The Kraken kill is 31st in the league. Gourde pickpockets Huges as he’s skating up the ice, but he cannot make anything of the rush chance. Second unit out for the Devils, who get some pressure at the end, but ultimately Jones makes an easy save on Palat. The Devils made the Kraken kill look a lot better than 31st. On a breakdown in coverage Jordan Eberle is all alone in the slot, but puts the backhand off the post. Damon Severson snipes it from the high-slot, reducing the deficit to one after Bratt’s pass. Fortunate sequence for the Devils, avoiding going down three to score shortly thereafter. Let’s see whether they can gain some momentum here.
More like SEA-verson. pic.twitter.com/p2P4R7Jqny— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 20, 2023
Ex-Devil Adam Larsson makes a good defensive play to deny Miles Wood and Nathan Bastian on a two-on-one. After Jones stops him, Palat then stops the puck getting to Jamie Oleksiak as Eberle tried to set him up with an empty net on the far side. Seattle forward Alex Wennberg is not on the bench, having gone to the locker room injured. 24-20 shots to the Kraken. Palat finds Mercer on the far side, but he is caught between two minds, looking like he couldn’t decide whether to shoot or try to find Hischier, so he does something inbetween and Jones stops him. Bratt turns it over to Eberle, but nothing comes of it. The Devils have been pretty sloppy with their passing all night. Blackwood makes a fantastic save on Björkstrand who is alone in the slot as the Kraken press. 1:41 to go in the second. Another turnover, but easy glove save for Blackwood, who soon thereafter saves well on Dunn, as the Kraken press in the final couple minutes. The Devils survive unscathed as they have a better period overall, however, there passing still leaves much to be desired. 29-22 shots Kraken.
Nothing comes of a Devils 3-on-2. Hughes is out with Sharangovich and Tatar, as Haula is moved down the lineup — if I am not mistaken, Haula has moved down the lineup in each of the last couple games. Tatar makes a great couple of moves skating through the Seattle defense, but the puck just rolls on him as he looks to finish. That would have been a wonderful goal. Wood has a shot that doesn’t go from a sharp angle, before the Kraken can’t convert on a 2-on-1, as a sprawling Severson just gets something on the cross-ice pass. Smith high-sticks Daniel Sprong, sending Seattle to the powerplay. Haula comes in alone short-handed and roofs it backhand on a fantastic play after Mercer sent him in. The Devils tie it up.
Haula with the shorty! pic.twitter.com/kghGEH4LyX— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 20, 2023
To see the Seattle powerplay out, Blackwood makes a good save as the Kraken passed it into the slot. It’s all tied up now with 12:30 to go as the Devils, yet again, claw their way back after a big deficit. As I write that, the Kraken go up again as Branden Tanev slides it into the empty net after a feed from three-point man Donato. The play came as a result of sloppy puck management by the Devils. Jones gloves a shot from Hamilton. Donato is blocked on the hatrick bid. Eight minutes to go, as the Kraken goal is followed by largely uneventful minutes. 6 to go, 38-25 shots for the Kraken at this point. Tatar turns it over to McCann as he tries to find Hughes. Blackwood stops him on the ensuing 2-on-1. 4 to go. Jones swallows a blast from Smith. 3:07 to go. I wonder how early Ruff pulls Blackwood, not really getting anything substantial going at 5-on-5. Blackwood heads off with 2:30 to go as the Devils have an ozone draw. The Devils lose the draw but get it back into the offensive zone. Scramble in front, but they can’t get it in. Control for the Devils. Hischier scores to tie it up with one to go! Rebound play as Hughes put it on. All tied.
Hmmmm… how very All-Star of him. pic.twitter.com/fbwYdI9nuI— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 20, 2023
The Kraken with furious pressure, but nothing comes of it. We are going to the extra period, one point apiece.
Hischier wins the draw. He is out with Hughes and Hamilton. Hischier just can’t get it in on a back-door feed from Hughes. Seattle possession. Andre Burakowsky then wins it for the Kraken, sniping it five-hole on Blackwood from the faceoff dot. Kraken win, Devils get one point.
Again, I thought Blackwood was really good. He stopped 36 of 40 for a 0.900 save percentage, and was 0.33 goals saved above expected, per Moneypuck. He would likely want the OT winner back, but there is no way the Devils even reach that point unless he makes big saves all the way through the game. He has quietly put together a good run since coming back from injury, which is really encouraging to see. He is giving the Devils more than a chance to win.
Good mentality, but the Devils can’t leave it late everytime. The Devils are the best team when playing from behind this season, again salvaging something late, as the did against San Jose, as they did coming back against New York and Carolina. Don’t get me wrong, I am delighted that the Devils got a point — which they really didn’t deserve — but it is unsustainable to go behind every game and expect to come back. They are getting destroyed early in these games, and at some point their luck will turn. The Devils go back home now to play Pittsburgh and Vegas, two teams that have struggled of late. I want to see full 60-minute performances from the Devils in those.
What did you think of tonight’s game? Did you think the Devils played better than I give them credit for? Overall it was a successful road trip, but a frustrating end. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thank you for reading.