Recap: Devils Start Season On The Right Foot

Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac scored two goals apiece in yesterday’s 5-2 victory. -CTV News

Game Summary

For the first time in franchise history, the New Jersey Devils had the privilege of opening their season abroad, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in Gothenburg, Sweden as part of the NHL Global Series. Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri scored two goals apiece, topped off with an empty-netter from Stefan Noesen that sealed the deal for New Jersey in the game’s final seconds.

Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring 58 seconds into the game with a wrister from the hash marks that got past Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. The Oilers tied things up about three minutes later when Milan Lucic buried a feed from center Connor McDavid on the power play. Palmieri and Travis Zajac would score back-to-back goals within a minute of each other in the second period, with Zajac putting the Devils up 4-1 at one point in the third when he tallied his second of the night a little more than five minutes into the final period.

In typical fashion, Oilers captain Connor McDavid facilitated setting up Edmonton’s second goal of the game, which was scored by Leon Draisaitl. While the Oilers made a significant late-game push to force overtime, Stefan Noesen’s empty net goal secured New Jerseys eventual 5-2 triumph. The Devils outshot Edmonton 27-19, and capitalized on one of two power play attempts, while killing three of four PK sessions. It is worth noting the internationally-played matchup does count as a home game against New Jersey, whose official home opener in Newark won’t be until Thursday.

 

Keys to Victory Follow-up

Containing McDavid…While the Devils ultimately got the victory, it didn’t some without superstar Connor McDavid leaving his mark on the scoresheet. The 21-year old phenom tallied two assists, giving him zero goals and nine points in his last five contests versus New Jersey. McDavid is yet to score against the Devils (who are one of the few NHL teams to keep him out of the goal column), but in terms of him influencing the final score, the Devils managed to keep him “contained” enough where the center’s second-to-none skill didn’t derail their lead.

Kinkaid picking up where he left off…Especially since Cory Schneider is recovering from offseason surgery, it’s going to be essential for Kinkaid to reestablish his level of play that temporarily earned him the starter role in net last season. He did just that last night, stopping 17 or 19 shots and made some Olympic saves in the process. The Oilers could have very well scored another goal or two had Kinkaid not been on his game the way he was last night.

 

Other Notes

  • First-year Devil John-Sebastian Dea—despite only playing 8:47—made himself noticed every time he was out on the ice. Dea had two shots on goal, two hits, and one blocked shot, along with a little time on the penalty kill. I’d be interested in seeing how Dea factors into a game where the Devils play against some stiffer competition. Thursday’s bout versus the Capitals will be a good test.
  • Despite registering zero shots on goal, rookie forward John Quenneville seemed to fit nicely on the third line with Travis Zajac and Miles Wood. While Wood and Zajac’s games complement each other nicely, Quenneville looked very comfortable out there yesterday, and could be a mainstay on that line—even when the lineup adjustments are made after Jesper Bratt returns.
  • Mirco Mueller logged a little over 20 minutes of ice time yesterday, including three minutes of PK time. While his game was sloppy at times, Mueller had three hits, one shot on goal and blocked shot. For someone who struggled to stay in the lineup when healthy last season, he had a relatively promising season debut.
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