For the first time since 2013, the New Jersey Devils have won five games in a row after defeating the Dallas Stars 2-1 in overtime last night. This put the Devils at 9-3-3 15 games into the season, and 7-1-2 in their last ten games. The win is also significant because it came in overtime and on the road, two categories where the Devils struggled to succeed earlier in this young season. Damon Severson opened the scoring 7:40 in the first off a feed from PA Parenteau on a rush into the Dallas zone. It was his third goal of the season and 12th point in 15 games, which currently leads the team. The Stars answered back about two minutes later when Patrick Eaves tallied his seventh of the season, which was the last time either team scored in regulation. Adam Henrique won the game 44 seconds into overtime when he buried a feed from Kyle Palmieri during a two-on-one rush for his third of the season, and first goal in seven games. The Devils outshot Dallas 33-24, but struggled in the face-off dot and only won 47% of their draws. While they played a perfect penalty kill (including a pivotal shorthanded situation with three minutes left in regulation), the Devils failed to capitalize on their lone power play opportunity, extending their drought to six games without scoring on the man advantage. What made this win all the more impressive for the Devils was how they did it without key forwards Mike Cammalleri (out for personal reasons) and Taylor Hall (lower body injury), who returned to New Jersey for further evaluation.
Some takeaways from last night’s game…
Cory Schneider played that quality brand of hockey between the pipes that we’re accustomed to seeing, and was a key reason why the game didn’t end in regulation. He made 23 saves last night, and currently has a 7-3-2 record along with a 2.14 GAA and .929 SV%. Last night was also Schneider’s first road win of the season.
The fact that the Devils won last night’s game without Mike Cammalleri and Taylor Hall in the lineup speaks volumes about the state of this team. Last year, the Devils imploded midseason when Cammalleri was sidelined the rest of the year so last night’s win was a testament to the well-structured lineup Coach Hynes and his crew deployed last night and keeping them disciplined to stick to their system.
Regarding what I said earlier, last night’s victory was significant for the Devils in that it was an overtime and road win. The Devils had no success in these two categories earlier this season, which was initially a concern. They went 0-3-2 in their first five road games and went 1-3 in their first four contests that stretched into overtime. They’ve since won their last three road contests and have gone 3-0 in their last three matchups that went into overtime/shootout.
While last night’s win was encouraging, the absences of Taylor Hall and Mike Cammalleri provided a paramount opportunity for young forwards like Reid Boucher, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Jacob Josefson to step up and contribute. Neither player achieved this feat, and all three went pointless despite playing on the same line together. All three players combined for two shots and averaged no more than 12 minutes of ice time. While I can’t say the same for DSP and Josefson, I think Boucher still has some salvageable potential, but won’t be able to establish himself as a lineup regular if he only gets third line minutes. A prospect like Boucher needs to be in a top-six scoring role, which I’m very surprised that Coach Hynes didn’t put him in considering the circumstances in last night’s lineup.