After months of anticipation, the season opener finally arrived in Newark. An afternoon filled with fun and festivities was followed by an encouraging 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Goals were scored by Adam Henrique, Jimmy Hayes, Jesper Bratt, John Moore, and goaltender Cory Schneider made 40 saves. Adam Henrique scored the Devils first goal of the 2017-2018 season four minutes into the first period. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher fired a shot from the point as the man advantage was winding down, which Henrique tipped in past Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
Jimmy Hayes scored another early power play goal in the second. Will Butcher fired another shot from the point that deflected off the backboards, which Hayes was able to jam past Bernier when he was parked in front of the net. Carl Soderberg got the Avalanche within one seconds after their power play expired after a brief scrum in front of Cory Schneider. A scary incident unfolded late in the period when Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson and had a dangerous knee-on-knee collision with Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. Although the Devils were issued a power play that resulted in Jesper Bratt scoring his first NHL goal, Palmieri never returned for the third, and Johnson won’t receive a disciplinary hearing for the incident.
The Devils scored their fourth goal of the game shorthanded when Jesper Bratt facilitated an odd-man rush out of the defensive zone. Bratt made a cross-ice pass to defenseman John Moore, who fired a wrist shot over Bernier’s shoulder. The win was John Hynes’ first home-opening victory as Devils head coach. The Devils were outshot by Colorado 41-39, went 50 percent in the face-off dot, and scored on three of four power play opportunities, while killing all six of their shorthanded situations.
Rookies continue to impress…Rookies Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher combined for one goal and five points in yesterday’s opener. Bratt tallied a goal and assist, but it was Will Butcher whose three assists (first player in franchise history to tally three points in their NHL debut) carried the team to victory. Although Nico Hischier didn’t make it on the scoresheet, the 18-year old registered six shots on net, exhibited exemplary dexterity with the puck, and was noticeable in all three zones.
Injury report…The victory didn’t come at a cost for the Devils, who at one time, were without forwards Kyle Palmieri, Drew Stafford, along with defenseman and team captain Andy Greene. While Greene fortunately returned to the lineup in the third period, Stafford never came out with the team after the first period. As of typing this, all we know is Stafford sustained a lower-body injury. Fortunately, Palmieri’s knee-on-knee with Johnson only resulted in a bone bruise. It’s unknown whether either player will accompany the team to Buffalo, or if they’ll be out for extended periods of time.
The Devils are back in action tomorrow afternoon in Buffalo at 3pm.