Reinforcements were on their way as the Devils stepped onto the ice at Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon.
New Jersey had five regulars return from injury against the Arizona Coyotes, as the Devils infirmary continues to empty. Drew Stafford tied the game against Arizona in the final minutes of the first period, after which both teams were held without a goal in the final forty minutes.
It took six rounds of the shootout to settle the score, and Pavel Zacha had the game-winning shootout goal in a 2-1 victory.
Here are 10 takeaways from the game:
1. There were a lot of familiar faces in the Devils lineup against the Coyotes. New Jersey had five regulars return to the lineup against Arizona. Nico Hischier (9 games missed), Kyle Palmieri (1 game missed), Sami Vatanen (9 games missed), Mirco Mueller (11 games missed) and Miles Wood (12 games missed) all returned from their own injuries to face the Coyotes.
2. Hischier was back on the ice playing alongside Kenny Agostino and Kyle Palmieri to start the game. The addition of Hischier gave head coach John Hynes more options when it came to both the penalty kill and power play, with the 20-year-old seeing the ice in all situations against the Coyotes. Hischier returned to play 20:50 with four shots on goal including 6:44 of ice time on the power play.
3. It's a two-game goal scoring streak for Devils forward Drew Stafford after he tied the game against the Coyotes at 17:01 of the first period. Stafford handled a feed from Pavel Zacha, streaking down the right wing and atop the circle, he took a wrist-shot that went five-hole on Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper to bring the score to a 1-1 draw.
For Zacha, he now has three assists in his last three games played and two points in his last two games since returning from an upper-body injury on Thursday night. He was credited with the primary assist.
4. Miles Wood was awarded the secondary assist on the Stafford goal. Wood, not only appreciated for the jet-speed he possessed against Arizona but the addition of a point as well. Wood registered his 14th assist of the season on the Stafford goal to mark a new career-high in assists over his career. Wood was returning to the lineup for the first time since February 25th.
5. The Devils had four chances alone in the second period with the man advantage and five overall against the Coyotes. While New Jersey wasn't able to score against the league's second-best penalty kill in Arizona (85.1%), the power play certainly looked re-energized with Hischier, Palmieri, Vatanen, and Wood back in the lineup. The Devils maintained control and had their shots but came up against a particularly hot goaltending performance from Kuemper. The Devils went 0-for-5 against the Coyotes on the power play.
6. Vatanen was a big part of manning the Devils power play in his 19:40 of ice time with the man-advantage. In his return to the lineup, the first game since March 2nd, Vatanen was paired with fellow returning player Mirco Mueller and had one shot on goal, while playing 2:50 on the power play.
7. Mirco Mueller was back on the ice after a scary incident on February 27th against the Calgary Flames. Three weeks ago, Mueller went into the end-boards head-first and was stretchered off the ice. He suffered only a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the lineup. In his return, Mueller played 15:56 through 60 minutes of regulation.
8. Rookie Michael McLeod found a new gear in his game against the Coyotes. He twice was fed a puck in the slot and a nearly open net in front of him as he searches for his first NHL goal. McLeod wasn't able to capitalize, his second attempt going up and over the net. McLeod matched his season-high three shots on goal over the course of 60 minutes, McLeod played 10:59 in regulation.
9. With the win, the Devils extend their home win streak against the Coyotes, dating back to 2014. Arizona has not posted a victory in the Garden State since March 27, 2014.
10. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 23 of 24 saves through 65 minutes of play and posted the victory in the shootout. He is now 2-for-2 in shootouts over his career. Blackwood stopped five of six shooters he faced in the shootout to post the victory.