The New Jersey Devils returned to the ice for the first time since trading Taylor Hall.
Goals from Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and Sami Vatanen ensured the New Jersey Devils enjoyed a winning start to life without Taylor Hall. The 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night gave fans a welcome restbite from what’s already been a tormentous season.
Mackenzie Blackwood thwarted the Ducks throughout the night, saving 26-of-27 shots ensuring the Devils enjoyed their first win on home ice since November 23rd. As for the Ducks, it’s a second straight defeat as they reach the midpoint of a four-game east coast trip.
“I think it’s for the young guys coming up, it’s those close games and finding ways to win or finding ways to close them out,” Palmieri said. “Tonight, finding a way to come from behind and find a lead going into the third and come out there and keep playing on our toes. They had a couple looks but we held the fort.”
Devils all over Ducks
The Devils looked the stronger of the two teams during the opening exchanges, before former Devil Adam Henrique opened up the scoring on 16.27 with the Ducks first shot of the evening during a 2-on-none. Ryan Miller produced two fine saves in a matter of seconds to deny Michael McLeod his first career goal.
Nico Hischier punished a misplaced puck by Michael Del Zolto with his third goal in five games to tie the game just 88 seconds into the second period. During a second power play within a five minute span Kyle Palmer grabbed his 13th of the season with wrist shot from the right circle beyond the shielded goaltender (Miller) for the go-ahead goal with 8.21 left in the second period.
Penalties for hooking (Cam Fowler) and hi-sticking (Blake Coleman) meant the last 1.33 would be four on four. Ryan Miller produced another impressive stop from a Jack Hughes slap shot with five seconds remaining to keep the deficit to just one goal.
A minute into the third period and the Devils doubled the lead as Jack Hughes brushed off a Del Zolto hit along the boards before setting up Sami Vatanen for his fifth of the season. Just 19 seconds later Andy Green was the hero as the defenseman cleared the puck off the goal line from a Ryan Getzlaf backhand denying the Ducks the opportunity to pull within one.
Devils fans acknowledged the home teams new found determined and unwavering attitude as they became increasingly vocal as the third period unraveled. With four minutes remaining the Ducks pulled goaltender Miller during a power play (tripping Nico Hischier). Mackenzie Blackwood made a string of impressive saves during the 6-on-4 to ensure back-to-back victories for interim head coach Alain Nasreddine.
The Anaheim Ducks face the New York Islanders on Saturday night whilst the New Jersey Devils welcome the Washington Capitals.