new jersey devils

Best of NHL: Canadiens top Devils in overtime to snap 3-game slide

uspresswire-canadiens-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Canadiens top Devils in overtime to snap 3-game slide

MONTREAL -- Tomas Plekanec scored 1:52 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Thursday night to snap a three-game slide.

Andrew Shaw scored for the Canadiens (14-14-4) in the first period and Carey Price made 31 saves in his ninth straight start.

Stefan Noesen had the goal for the Devils (17-9-5), who remained third in the rugged Metropolitan Division. Cory Schneider stopped 34 shots in defeat.

Plekanec beat Schneider between the legs after tremendous work along the boards by Charles Hudon to get him the puck in open ice.

The Canadiens ended their 2-2-1 homestand on a positive note before they embark on a seven-game road trip, starting with Saturday's outdoor game against the Ottawa Senators to mark the NHL's 100th anniversary (see full recap).

Wild’s Stalock posts 1st shutout in 3 seasons
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Alex Stalock stopped 28 shots to complete his first NHL shutout in three seasons, steering the Minnesota Wild past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.

Tyler Ennis scored early and Mikael Granlund added a late goal for the Wild, whose first three wins on the streak were all in extra time. They handed the Maple Leafs their first blank slate in more than a year, since a 3-0 loss at Calgary on Nov. 30, 2016.

The Maple Leafs, who have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and entered the game with the fifth-highest scoring average in the league, have totaled three goals over their last three games without young star center Auston Matthews because of an upper-body injury.

Stalock stepped up at an opportune time for the Wild, who had to pull starter Devan Dubnyk from the previous game after one period because of an unspecified lower-body injury. Dubnyk will miss at least another week, leaving the net in the hands of the career backup Stalock who played at South St. Paul High School just 5 miles from Xcel Energy Center. All four of his previous NHL shutouts came with San Jose.

Since losing 4-2 to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Nov. 8, the Wild are 12-4-1 in their last 17 games for an NHL-leading 25 points over that span. This was their fifth straight win at home (see full recap).

Chiasson catches fire late in Capitals’ win
BOSTON -- Alex Chiasson scored two third-period goals, the second on a short-handed breakaway with 8:29 left, and the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 5-3 on Thursday night.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice for Boston, moving past Bobby Orr on the team's all-time list with his 265th career goal and adding another in the final seconds.

Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots for the Capitals, who have beaten Boston 11 straight times. Jakub Vrana and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington, and Alex Ovechkin added an empty netter to make it 5-2 before Bergeron cut the deficit to two with 27 seconds left.

The Bruins trailed 3-1 but they had just begun a power play when Chiasson pushed the puck out of his zone and outraced three Boston players to center ice. Alone as he crossed the red line, he skated in on Anton Khudobin, went to his backhand and beat the goalie on the stick side.

Khudobin made 16 saves for the Bruins. David Krejci made it 4-2 in the final minutes when he tipped Charlie McAvoy's slapshot into the net (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Devils snap Kings' 8-game win streak

uspresswire-devils-taylor-hall.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Devils snap Kings' 8-game win streak

NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored twice and the New Jersey Devils ended the Los Angeles Kings' eight-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night.

Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons also scored for the Devils, who snapped a two-game skid. Cory Schneider made 13 saves.

The Kings were beaten for the first time since losing 3-2 in overtime to Arizona on Nov. 24. Their winning streak was the longest in the NHL this season.

It was Los Angeles' first defeat in regulation since a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Nov. 22.

Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for the Kings, and Torrey Mitchell's goal with 7:56 left prevented Los Angeles from being shut out for the first time this season (see full recap).

Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point scored, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Tuesday night in a matchup of the NHL's top two teams.

Tyler Johnson added an empty netter as Tampa Bay (22-6-2) earned its fifth straight win. It was Vasilevskiy's third shutout of the season and the seventh of his career.

Jake Allen made 22 saves for St. Louis, which had won four in a row. The Blues (21-9-2) were shut out for the third time at home this season.

Point put Tampa Bay in front when he lifted in a rebound of his own shot at 19:15 of the first period. From the side of the net, Johnson fed Point in the slot. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed to the right. Point alertly followed the puck and extended his point streak to five games, setting a career high.

Vasilevskiy had several nice saves, turning away Vladimir Tarasenko on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period. Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins with 20, and Allen is second with 17 (see full recap).

Granlund lifts Wild to shootout win
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund scored the winning goal in a shootout and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Tuesday night.

The shootout reached the fifth round before Granlund beat Mike Smith. Alex Stalock stopped Michael Ferland to give Minnesota its third straight victory, the first two coming in overtime.

Ferland and Minnesota's Matt Cullen scored in regulation. Smith made 21 saves for Calgary, while Stalock stopped 16 shots in two periods plus overtime for the Wild. He replaced injured goalie Devan Dubnyk after the first.

Calgary dominated the puck throughout the first period and carried a 10-1 advantage in shots on goal 17 minutes in. But after the Wild killed off the second Flames power play of the frame, their second and third shots on net produced the game's first goal.

Ryan Suter took a shot from the top of the left circle that Smith turned aside. Joel Eriksson Ek took a whack at the rebound before Cullen poked it in to put Minnesota on top 1-0.

The Flames tied it with just more than a minute left in the second period on Ferland's 12th goal of the season. Ferland fired a slap shot from center point that deflected off Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and beat Stalock over his left shoulder.

Stalock entered at the start of the second period in place of Dubnyk, who stopped all 10 shots he saw in the first but was removed after aggravating a lower-body injury (see full recap).

Recent Devils trade should open Ron Hextall's eyes

ap-usa-sami-vatanen-ron-hextall-adam-henrique-flyers-devils-ducks.jpg
AP Images/USA Today Images

Recent Devils trade should open Ron Hextall's eyes

The New Jersey Devils took a significant step this past week in their quest to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference playoff picture by acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a third-round pick.

Seemingly not content with his team’s red-hot start, Devils general manager Ray Shero jumped at the chance to improve his team, which had nothing to do with navigating the salary cap, bolstering his position in future drafts or building a future contender.

It was a pure hockey move to get better right now. Vatanen is a puck-moving, top-four defenseman who gives New Jersey depth and can play in whatever situation the Devils need. The play of Jersey's young forwards made Henrique, a very good two-way center, expendable. For a team that finished dead last in the Eastern Conference a season ago with just 70 points, the Devils have seemingly made a 180-degree turn quicker than if Shero was operating a jet ski.   

Compared to their neutral-zone trapping Stanley Cup title days, this brand of Devils hockey is actually enjoyable to watch. While they could eventually come back to the Metropolitan Division pack, the Devils have something brewing and Shero is not willing to wait around, sit on his hands and just watch it happen. 

Since taking over in the summer of 2015, the Devils' GM has made bold moves that have included the additions of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmeiri, Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson and now Vatanen. And, of course, he had the first overall pick, Nico Hischier, fall into his lap. While some hockey executives in a similar rebuild may see a light at the end of the tunnel, Shero’s road map has just about avoided the tunnel altogether.       

Just down the turnpike, Ron Hextall’s turnaround has been a considerably slower process in spite of a one-year head start over Shero. In the three-plus years since taking over as the Flyers' general manager on May 7, 2014, Hextall has executed 15 trades, and almost every transaction has involved future considerations through draft picks and few, if any, difference-makers. 

The Hextall era started with the lopsided deal in June of 2014 involving Scott Hartnell to Columbus for R.J. Umberger and a 2015 fourth-round pick. All Hartnell did was score 64 goals along with 146 points with the Blue Jackets, while Umberger contributed just 11 goals and 26 points all while playing through injuries he had sustained prior to the trade. Sure, Hextall was able to shave a few years off a contract, but Umberger was simply damaged goods.

More recently, there was the 2017 draft day swap of Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for a pair of first-round picks and a possible third, to go along with forward Jori Lehtera. While Schenn has emerged as a No. 1 center for the Blues, Lehtera is now a potential buyout candidate at the end of the season, much like Umberger was after his two years back in Philadelphia.

What the Flyers have received in Hextall’s trades have been secondary pieces, hardly key contributors: Jordan Weal (from L.A. as part of the Vinny Lecavalier-Luke Schenn trade), Valtteri Filppula (from Tampa Bay in the Mark Streit deal), and Radko Gudas (from Tampa Bay as part of a Braydon Coburn swap). Once again, role players, but not the necessary moves capable of taking the franchise to the next level.

Furthermore, with Hextall's combination of trades and free-agent signings, there’s a widespread belief that the team isn’t surrounding cornerstones Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek with a supporting cast good enough to be a perennial playoff power and there's a feeling that their prime years are being wasted. And the misery of the current 10-game losing streak doesn't help a single thing.

The last time both star players won a playoff series came in 2012 when Giroux was 24 and Voracek was just 22. Since then, there have been three non-playoff seasons and a pair of first-round exits as Giroux and Voracek inch closer to 30. Giroux will turn 30 in January.   

Regardless of their record, the Flyers have been able to stare down at the Devils within their division, as New Jersey has finished below Philadelphia in the standings every season since 2009-10, even though the Devils eliminated the Flyers from the playoffs in 2012 and went on to the Stanley Cup Final that year. But the order now appears to be changing.

Following the Flyers' ninth straight loss this past Tuesday vs. the Sharks, Hextall reiterated to the media that the team he’s assembled is good enough to make the playoffs, while also adding, “I try to make this team better every day if there’s something that can be done.”

Which begs the question, exactly which team is Hextall referring to? The one preparing for the Calgary Flames on Monday night or the Philadelphia Flyers of 2020?  

There’s proof you can address the present and the future at the same time. 

Those details are in the Devils and Shero.