After suffering their first shutout loss of the season against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils knew it was going to be difficult to bounce back against their upcoming competition. Entering what former head coach Pete DeBoer would have described as a “tough building to play in”, the Devils faced off against the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks after defeating them 4-2 less than a week ago. Going into tonight, the Blackhawks only lost once in regulation at home. That didn’t appear like it was going to change in the early stages of the game. Patrick Kane scored on the power play 6:42 into the first period, giving the Blackhawks the early lead. It was Kane’s 11th of the season and the 11th game in a row where he’s registered at least a point (19 over that span).
Adam Henrique scored his 8th of the year 59 seconds into the second period to tie things up at one. Kyle Palmieri would score his sixth of the year with three minutes left in the period to put the Devils ahead. It was Palmieri’s fifth goal in eight games and his 11th point over that same span. The first half of the third period yielded very little action. After a failed odd man rush for the Cammalleri-Henrique-Stempniak line, the Blackhawks came down the other way and tied the game with 6:41 left in the period. Rookie Artemi Panarin scored his fifth of the year, which was his third goal and fifth point in the last three games. After assisting on Palmieri’s initial go-ahead goal, Sergey Kalinin would score the eventual game-winner on the power play off a Kyle Palmieri circle shot that deflected off Crawford. It was Kalinin’s second goal of the year and second point of the game.
Despite being outshot 29-22, the Devils held their own against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They dominated in hits (54-24) and prevailed in the faceoff dot (26-20), while compiling an astounding 22 blocks, compared to Chicago’s 8. Tonight’s win makes the Devils 5-2-0 on the road and 7-3-0 in their last ten games. The Devils haven’t lost consecutive games since starting the season 0-3-1, and have gone 9-3-0 since then.
Who stood out
Patrick Kane…It’d be hard not to include the dynamic right wing in this particular section. The two points he collected tonight continues the longest point streak of any player in the league this year. He’s tied for the league lead in points (25) with Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, and in goals (11) with Seguin’s teammate Jamie Benn. The Hawks have gone 6-4-1 over Kane’s 11-game point streak, and their .54 win percentage over that span. It’s a slight improvement compared to their .50 win percentage on the season, and shows how impactful Kane’s production is in keeping his team’s head above the water through their sluggish start to the season. In addition to logging over 24 minutes of ice time, Kane led players of both teams with six shots and played over five minutes of power play time.
Sergey Kalinin…The young Russian appears to be getting better and better as the season progresses. His goal and assist tonight give the 24-year old three points over the last three games, during which he’s exceled playing on the second line with Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri. Kalinin logged 14:33 of ice time tonight. He led all Devils players with four shots, had four hits, and led forwards in blocked shots (two), along with Adam Henrique. Kalinin’s had nine shots over his last three games after registering just eight in his first 12 contests. While it may be too early to say, Kalinin’s increase in shooting appears to be working out since it coincides with him starting to score goals.
What stood out
Top-six scoring…All three Devils goals were scored by members of their top-two lines. While it’s great to see the team’s top forwards doing what they’re supposed to do, the lack of offensive participation from the third and fourth lines is gradually forming a rift on the Devils stat and depth charts. Granted the Devils have played better than advertised, their shortcomings are apparent. While their first and second lines bailed the team out tonight, there will come a stretch of games where that won’t be the case, and while the third and fourth lines did some great things in the defensive end, they have to start putting pucks in the net.