The Devils continued their scoring outburst last night as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. New Jersey was flying on all cylinders as they used their team speed to wreak havoc in the Leafs own end. Toronto scored the first goal of the game for an early 1-0 lead, but it didn’t take long for New Jersey to answer. Miles Wood redirected a Steven Santini shot for his first of the season to tie the game up. Not long after, Wood used his elite skating ability for his second goal of the game:
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 12, 2017
Wood caught the Leafs defense by surprise and after Rosen wasn’t able to handle the puck cleanly, Wood found himself in all alone on a breakaway and beat Andersen for a 2-1 lead.
New Jersey found themselves in a tough spot in the second period when Pavel Zacha and John Moore took simultaneous penalties to give Toronto a five-on-three for a full two minutes. Surely, not an ideal situation, but that didnt seem to matter, as the Devils would score their first regular season three-on-five goal in franchise history:
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 12, 2017
After Jake Gardiner couldn’t to keep the puck in, Adam Henrique began the counter-attack and rushed the puck down the ice. Once in the offensive zone, he managed to get around a lackadaisical Leafs defense and forced Andersen to make a save, eventually leading to Brian Gibbons putting in the rebound left by Andersen for a 4-2 lead.
From that point, the Devils had a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. They would go on to add two more goals courtesy of Blake Coleman and Pavel Zacha. The Devils win moves them to 3-0-0 as they get set for a back-to-back this weekend with the Capitals and Rangers.
- Cory Schneider was outstanding last night. He stopped 47/50 shots and saved a number of chances on the Leafs power play. It’s only been three games, but the early returns on Schneider are very positive. He has a 2.00 goals against average and most importantly, a .948% save percentage. That number will certainly come back down to earth, but if Schneider can return close to his career average of .922%, the Devils will be in more games than not throughout the season.
- I thought Will Butcher had an impressive game. Aside from picking up two early assists, he showed good awareness and decision-making when on the ice. He makes the smart pass and has the ability to help the Devils get out of their own end. With the Devils defense pairs still a work in progress, it wouldn’t surprise me if Butcher gets more ice time in the next few games, especially with some tougher games slated this weekend.
- Sticking with the theme of defense, Hynes new pairs had mixed results last night. He was wise to split Mueller and Santini, but Mueller didn’t fare much better last night, while Santini and Greene had their ups and downs. Going forward, the best plan seems to have Greene and Severson remain together as the team’s top pair. After that, it gets a bit tricky. Butcher has played well enough where I would entertain the idea of playing him and Santini together. Those two would seem to compliment each other well and could give New Jersey that second pair they’re looking for after Greene/Severson.
- While it’s only been three games, there are a couple of things the Devils need to get cleaned up quickly. For starters, they’ve given up 40+ shots in two of their three games. Schneider has been great, but you can expect him to be every game. They also can’t take eight minor penalties every matchup, especially against a team with the firepower the Leafs have. There’ll be some tough tests ahead, especially in this division. If the Devils don’t stay disciplined and limit their shots against, they’re going to make life difficult for themselves in a hurry.