Devils Top Panthers 3-2 in a Matinee Showdown
This was exactly the outcome the Devils needed before they head out on a two week road trip to finish out October and begin November.
With the hot 4-0 start to the season seeming like a distant memory, the boys snapped back on Saturday to claim two points, ending their recent slip from once the only undefeated team left in the National Hockey League.
With four of their starters on IR (Jesper Bratt, Ben Lovejoy, Steven Santini, and Drew Stafford) and one of their starters ill (Marcus Johansson), recalling players from the Binghamton Devils (AHL) was a necessity. Insert Joey Anderson, the 20-year-old drafted in 2016 by the Devils, who got the call-up on Friday to fill in the missing piece in the bottom 3, who played in his first career NHL game this afternoon at the Prudential Center. He logged 8:30 ice time and was paired with veteran leader and fan favorite Brian Boyle and centered by Binghamton teammate Kevin Rooney, who got the call up just 4 days prior.
What were his thoughts on his first performance?
“I thought I did a good job overall,” said Anderson. “I have a couple plays that stick out in my head that I would love to have back. You live and you learn. I thought I made some adjustments later in the game. A play that I didn’t make in the first period I ended up making in the third. I got my feet wet. I used some speed out there, did some nice plays, it was really fun to see the game on that level.”
It was a physical afternoon, each team drawing numerous penalties. At one point in the second period, the Panthers had three players serving time in the penalty box. With six power plays a piece, shockingly we saw no power play goals. Miles Wood, who leads the team in penalty minutes, with 11 prior to today’s contest, added six more to now have 17 PIM on the season. He saw the sin bin three times in the opening period.
The top line is consistently the most productive, with Kyle Palmieri scoring his eighth of the season and Taylor Hall scoring a beauty of a goal, a one timer fed from Palmieri cross-ice, notching his second of the season. Nico Hischier had the secondary assist on each.
Hischier, just 19 years old, drafted first overall by the Devils in the 2017 draft, is only getting better. He has speed, skill, and a high awareness of the puck, which are all qualities that make him an efficient first-line center. What worked today in comparison to the last couple games where they Devils fell short?
“The last two games we played back with our identity,” Hischier said post-game. “The Philly game wasn’t great, we didn’t play our game. Right now it was all about it doesn’t really matter the result, we just wanted to be back and play in our identity. We know if we do that, the results are going to be there. We know we have to play our game, if not it doesn’t give us a chance to win, and if we do it does give us a chance to beat every team in this league.”
Keith Kinkaid was very strong in net, and looked as though he was going to log his third shutout of the season. That was until 15:03 of the third period when Mike Mattheson snuck one in for his first of the season. The Panthers put in a valiant effort to rally with Mike Hoffman sinking one more past Kinkaid at 19:45 to pull the team within one, but the Devils prevailed 3-2.
The Panthers are now off to Helsinki, Finland for the NHL Global Series on Nov. 1-2 versus the Winnipeg Jets.
Coach John Hynes is happy with Saturday’s result, and knows that this is the best way to leave town for a handful road games. Only one of the team’s first eight games this season has been on the road (10/20 at Philadelphia). The season opener was played overseas in Sweden for the NHL Global Series, however that was technically considered a home game.
“We try to do a nice job here at home, it was nice that we were able to finish today here with a win on this home stand, said Hynes. “It’s an opportunity for us to play in some different venues, face some teams that we haven’t seen, I think that’s always exciting. It’s a big month for us. When you look at the month of November there’s a lot of games, the schedule’s pretty intense. We have had a good October, and now it’s time to turn the page and move on and be ready to go on the road.”
The Devils are back in action on Tuesday when they travel down to Tampa Bay to face the 7-1-1 Lightning.
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