The New Jersey Devils got the first great chance of the game when Shea Theodore turned the puck right over to Nico Hischier. Hischier, who had a clean breakaway after skating around Theodore, was denied by Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill. A couple minutes later, Jack Hughes fired from the high slot that Hill fought off high, as the Devils put the pressure on Vegas early.
Despite the Devils getting seven shots in the first seven and a half minutes, Jonathan Marchessault took the lead for the Knights when a point shot deflected around the net to him — and Marchessault dove with the shot to put the Knights up, 1-0. This was right after Adin Hill was diving around the crease to stop Jack Hughes from scoring.
Past the halfway mark of the period, Jack Hughes had another chance on the rush where he tried to sneak a backhand past Hill, but he was denied. A few minutes later, the Devils went to the power play. With the man advantage, Jack Hughes was all over the ice again as the puck moved quickly around the zone — just missing Nico Hischier on a redirection pass early. Not missing a beat, Jack sent it across to Jesper Bratt, whose one-timer got through Adin Hill! 1-1.
The Brattman Begins (our scoring). pic.twitter.com/6zNUnNSvbs— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 4, 2023
The Devils did not let the pressure off the Knights. Late in the period, Dawson Mercer picked up a loose puck that deflected off a Knights defender and went around and across for a wrist shot that rang off the bar and in! Mercer’s 8th straight game with a goal! 2-1, Devils, with just half a minute to play!
This one is for our Newfie friends: YES B’Y! pic.twitter.com/Mo6jyiQdDh— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 4, 2023
Akira Schmid made a save on a backhand by Chandler Stevenson about five minutes into the period, and he made another big save off a turnover to Marchessault. Akira Schmid would make several saves on Knights shots in the first seven or eight minutes of the period, as the Devils held onto their one-goal lead but did not look like they were in much of a chance to expand it. Jonathan Marchessault would continue to make life difficult for the New Jersey Devils. He got the puck around the high slot and sent it in on goal. His shot beat Schmid, tying the game at 2-2 with seven minutes to play in the second period.
Dawson Mercer was sent in on a partial break when Nico Hishcier won a puck from the boards to Tatar, who sent it up to Mercer at the blueline. Mecer, hounded from behind, pulled off a toe drag but had the puck swiped away by Adin Hill. Still, Mercer looks supremely confident in everything he does.
With 3:35 to play in the period, Dougie Hamilton went to the box for slashing Shea Theodore. Clear penalty. The Devils got a clear off the draw, and the Golden Knights took the zone shortly after. William Karlsson slipped through on the re-entry and almost scored — and Schmid faced a couple shots from Marchessault after. The Knights got three shots on Schmid during these two minutes, and the penalty killers never got off for a line change. Shortly after the penalty expired, Dawson Mercer was robbed on an amazing play by Jack Eichel to block a shot at an open net.
Akira came up big on the PK. pic.twitter.com/7WmQMVBiUc— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 4, 2023
At the end of the period, the Devils had another chance they should have scored on. Jesper Bratt took the zone, and had a chance at the side of the net that was stoned by Hill. The Devils were all around the crease, but just kept overskating the puck as they had Hill out of position. They just could not get it through before the Knights cleared the puck to end the period.
Shortly after Nico Hischier took a big hit from Brayden McNabb in the neutral zone, the Golden Knights turned play quickly around against the Devils’ top line and got a two-on-one. John Marino overplayed it, and Jonathan Marchessault passed across for a Jack Eichel five hole goal. 3-2.
After several minutes of gaining momentum, the Devils were dominating possession. After Jack Hughes set up a Nico Hischier rush shot that was saved by Hill, the rest of the top line came out with Nico and caused some havoc around the net. Tatar, Mercer, and Hischier hounded the net after Mercer could not lift a low slot shot over the pad. But eventually, the play was blown dead as the referee lost sight of the puck.
When the top line was buzzing again, Nico Hischier was hauled down as he tried to collect a loose puck near the blue line. The referee put his arm up for a penalty, and called Michael Amadio for high sticking. With just under half the period left to play, the Devils went to the power play when Brett Howden took an interference minor. After just one shot, Dougie Hamilton played the neutral zone a bit lazily and let a pass get by him to William Karlsson, who drew a penalty shot from Palat’s slash from behind. Akira Schmid made the save on a delayed forehand shot off his shoulder!
With 1:22 to work with in the power play, the Devils won the defensive zone draw and took the zone back. Jepser Bratt spun into space with the puck, but got too greedy and did not shoot before it was swiped away by the slot. With play continuing at even strength, Damon Severson and Miles Wood did a lot of work to prolong the Devils’ control of the puck. Jesper Boqvist came in to support them, working the puck down low and to Miles Wood in front. Wood snuck it in to tie the game! 3-3, with seven minutes to play!
My oh Miles. What a big goal. pic.twitter.com/HAOVlhOGoL— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 4, 2023
The Devils and Knights fought back and forth for the rest of the third period, but neither team could get the same types of high-danger opportunities they were getting earlier on. Thus, play went to overtime.
Michael McLeod, Jack Hughes, and Dougie Hamilton started overtime for the Devils. Hughes won the loose puck from the boards off the draw, and McLeod came off for Nico Hischier. Jack Hughes went for the backdoor pass to Nico Hischier, but Adin Hill denied him at the doorstep.
With Mercer and Bratt on against Karlsson and Smith, Reilly Smith had a shot blocked by Dougie Hamilton. McLeod won the following draw, and he got off for Hischier. Hischier went for the redirection pass to John Marino, but the puck bounded around and out of the zone. Then, with Bratt and Severson on with Hughes, Jesper Bratt had a chance after Damon Severson could not finish a chance around the net — but Hill denied him. Mercer came on for Hughes. Jesper Boqvist came on for Bratt. Boqvist absolutely walked the Vegas defense and passed across the crease to Mercer, whose shot was smothered by Hill as he came across!
Nico Hischier skated the Knights out of position with under a minute to play and forced Hill to get to the ice, but he could not lift the backhand shot. Adin Hill made another two huge saves on Bratt and Hughes. At the end of the period, McLeod got a breakaway with Jesper Bratt, but William Karlsson lifted Bratt’s stick from behind and prevented a final shot from getting on net.
Tomas Tatar went in first. He went wide right and cut back slowly. Adin Hill stopped it with the pad.
Marchessault went for Vegas. His cutback move was stopped by Schmid as he could not lift the shot.
Dougie Hamilton went second. His shot went right into the breadbasket.
Jack Eichel followed up. He went for the same move as Dougie, and Schmid stayed with it.
Dawson Mercer went third, shooting high over the net.
Vegas went for the win with Reilly Smith. Smith’s move to the backhand was denied by Schmid’s glove.
Jesper Bratt went next. He ran out of room.
Shea Theodore scored on a backhand. Vegas won in the shootout 4-3.
My Thoughts on That Game
Since this is a late-night game, I’m going to keep this relatively short. I think it’s pretty much unquestionable that the Devils’ skaters outperformed the Golden Knights ten times over tonight. However, Adin Hill played an excellent game and stole the win for the Vegas Golden Knights. At a certain point, the Devils need to finish more of their chances, though — and hopefully Timo Meier assists in situations like these tonight.
As always, the shootout is a drag to watch. After 65 minutes of fast-paced, electric hockey: the shootout is the last thing in the world I want to watch. But you already know that — and I doubt there is anyone around here that is very willing to defend the shootout all that much.
What did you think of tonight’s game? Were you disappointed by the end result? How do you feel about taking points in every game against Pacific Division teams this year? How long will Mercer’s streak go? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.