Nasreddine’s Devils Good, But Not Good Enough, Against Vegas

The First Period

Tuesday night was the first game of the Nasreddine era with the New Jersey Devils. It was a small crowd at the Prudential Center to see them take on the Vegas Golden Knights. The mood was better than recent, even as a “Hynes got fired” chant broke out through the arena.

Shortly after the beginning of the first, captain Andy Greene took the game’s first penalty. As he fell to the ice in front of Mackenzie Blackwood’s crease, he grabbed the stick of a Vegas player, resulting in a two minute trip to the sin bin. While the power play is one of Vegas’s best aspects of their game, the Devils held a good amount of control. A pass went past Travis Zajac in the neutral zone to enter Vegas territory. Devils were able to enter the zone and generate offense, but couldn’t put one past Subban before play went back to the Devils’ zone.

Later on, Ryan Reaves of Vegas went down blocking a shot and headed toward the dressing room. Miles Wood would get hurt with a blown elbowing call but returned to the bench. A hard hit on the boards at center ice between Carrier and Tennyson gave New Jersey it’s first power play of the game. Devils may not have scored on the man advantage, but the power play was light years better than we’ve seen it look recently. Two potential shorthanded chances by Vegas were thwarted by Wayne Simmonds and PK Subban.

Even if the coach is different, something’s never change. Taylor Hall missed on a late first-period breakaway. If he made it, it would have truly signaled a turnaround. The Prudential crowd was understandably frustrated but not surprised. Seconds later Kyle Palmieri scored on his own to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Blackwood would finish the first period with a point-blank save on Mark Stone. The Devils finished the first period with a 1-0 lead and a 17-7 shot advantage.

The Second Period

Vegas began to get more shots of their own as the second period went on. Just after the five minutes mark, Chandler Stevenson put one past Blackwood to even up the score. Stevenson was acquired via trade from Washington less than a day before.

The second period was a much sloppier effort by New Jersey. Blackwood was able to minimize the damage, including a breakaway chance at the period’s midway point. On the end of the ice, P.K. Subban was down on the ice with injury from yet another missed call.

Jesper Bratt was a key hit for the Devils scouting department

The Devils eventually stabilized themselves and scored the go-ahead goal off Jesper Bratt. Taylor Hall was in the goal crease, behind the wrong Subban brother, so the goal was challenged for goaltender interference. The call on the ice was eventually confirmed for a 2-1 New Jersey score. Fun fact: they showed the referees iPad on the Jumbotron during the play review. They were watching the MSG network broadcast of the goal.

Vegas successfully killed off the ensuing power play from a failed challenge. Malcolm Subban had two of the games best saves late in the period. Both came courtesy of his right pad, and one on a New Jersey odd-man rush.

The Third Period

Just over a minute into the third, Jonathan Marchessault scored a beauty of a redirect off a pass from Wild Bill Karlsson, and the score was tied. As if that wasn’t bad enough, that’s a goal Blackwood’s gonna want back.

Just a few minutes later, Vegas would score the go-ahead goal. Jersey would find themselves trailing for the first time all night after a redirection found the back of Blackwood’s net, as Marchessault got his second of the game.

The Devils saw their once heavy lead in shots on goal dwindle away, as Severson headed to the box on a two-minute hooking minor. Marchessault would score his third on the man advantage. Prudential Center saw another hat trick this season after Kyle Palmieri’s against Tampa Bay.

Hischier shoots versus Vegas
Nico Hischier taking a shot against the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo Credit: from Flipboard.com)

Nico Hischier scores his second in as many games in an immediate answer. The Vegas lead was cut to one and any boos from the rafters were temporarily silenced. Moments later the refs would miss a tripping call on Kyle Palmieri on what could have been a tying goal.

With less than five minutes left and the Devils hoping for a goal just to push this game passed 60 minutes, they take another penalty. Kyle Palmieri was called on a questionable interference call. Luckily the Devils were able to kill that off.

Nasredinne surprisingly took a timeout as the third ran down. Blackwood was pulled with just over a minute and a half left. The rather puzzling choice of Wayne Simmonds, over the likes of Blake Coleman or Jesper Bratt, came out as the extra attacker. A misplay behind the net cost the Devils valuable seconds as time expires for a Vegas victory.

Compared to the last two train wrecks against the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres, last night was an improvement. Granted it was still a loss and a lot has to be done. All those near misses and blown calls added up in the end. New coach, same heartbreak.

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