The New Jersey Devils dropped their third consecutive game. In what was a back-and-forth affair, the Devils were ultimately unable to keep up and dropped their second straight lopsided game to their cross-river rivals. The defense, along with goaltending, was a major issue for them last night.
The first period featured five goals, three of which were scored by the Rangers, and the other two by the away team. Kevin Rooney made the game 1-1 shorthanded. Pavel Zacha executed a great solo effort off the faceoff, and Rooney was there to clean it up. The Devils’ second goal came courtesy of Blake Coleman with just under two minutes left in period one.
The second period saw four goals, only one was scored by the team in red and black. Damon Severson scored on a goal (see below) that was questionable, as they had to go to review to overturn the original ruling. This goal, unfortunately, didn’t matter much, as the Rangers scored three unanswered – one coming in the third period – to make the final score 6-3.
Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood was pulled toward the end of the second period. He only stopped 20 of the 25 shots he faced and was credited with the loss. In his relief, Louis Domingue stopped 11 of 12 shots. In his second career start, Igor Shesterkin was impressive and stopped 46 of the Devils’ 49 shots. With the loss, the Devils drop to 15-21-7 on the season.
- The Devils were atrocious on defense. And this has been the case the past several weeks after not being all that bad in this area at the beginning of the season. The Devils gave up 68 shot attempts, 37 scoring chances, 15 of which were of the high-danger variety. The defense wasn’t all to blame, however. Mackenzie Blackwood – who has been playing well for weeks – struggled. The Rangers only had an expected goals (xG) of 2.64 and ended up tallying six. Although Blackwood only allowed five of them, the point still stands.
- Pavel Zacha had his best game in weeks. He played 11:07 of five-on-five ice time, while also playing a hefty amount on the penalty kill. He was third on the Devils with a 65.79 Corsi for percentage (CF%), led the Devils with an 81.84 expected goals for percentage (xGF%), and as mentioned before single-handedly set up the shorthanded goal. Also, the assist he tallied last night brought his point total to 19 (three goals, 16 assists), which is sixth on the team. Zacha – who is often scrutinized by fans – put together a performance last night that he needs to build upon.
- The Ben Street project may have come to an end last night. He only played 3:55 of five-on-five ice time where he owned a shot attempt ratio of +1/-8. In all, the fourth line contributed a CF% of 12.50 and an xGF% of 2.27%. Head coach Alain Nasreddine should explore opportunities to better this fourth line, and it starts with Ben Street being returned to Binghamton.
- After starting the game with a first line of Kyle Palmieri, Nico Hischier, and Wayne Simmonds, Nasreddine quickly switched Simmonds in favor of Jesper Boqvist. This move paid off, as that new trio contributed a CF% of 63.33, which was the second-best line of the night. Boqvist, himself, is showing tremendous improvement – especially offensively – as he was on the ice for 27 shot attempts. This was the second-most of any player on the ice last night, so this growth is great to see for the rookie.
Next Game: Saturday, January 11th @ Washington