For a second time this season, the New Jersey Devils were stymied by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This time, it happened on home ice.
Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier scored for New Jersey Tuesday night, in the Devils 7-2 loss - the most lopsided home loss of the season. New Jersey has been outscored by Toronto, one of the league's top tier teams, 13-3 in the two games played between the clubs this season.
Here are 10 takeaways from the game:
1. Taylor Hall returned to the Devils lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hall had missed the teams' previous two-games with lower body soreness. The 27-year-old Hall took part in Monday's practice and Tuesday's morning skate before the determination was made he was healthy enough to play.
Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hall earned an assist on the Devils second goal of the game. In 14 career games against Toronto, Hall has three goals and six assists for nine points.
2. It is rare that one sees the number 13 for New Jersey sitting in the penalty box. Nico Hischier has been rather spectacular through the first 32 games of the season at avoiding the penalty box. Entering the game against the Leafs, he had a team-low two penalty minutes. On Tuesday night, Hischier took just his second penalty of the season, a holding-call against Toronto's Zach Hyman at 10:20 of the first period. The Devils would go on to kill off the Hischier penalty.
3. After the Leafs had taken an early 3-0 lead on the Devils, New Jersey was on the board at 18:44 of the first period as Sami Vatanen fired home his second goal of the season, a rocket from the right point to beat Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen.
The goal was Vatanen's first since November 1st at Detroit and came on the Devils seventh shot of the period. Brian Boyle added the lone assist, after fighting off two Leafs down low by the net to get the puck back to Vatanen. Boyle has three points in his last five games played (one goal, two assists).
4. As for Boyle, here's a fun fact! His assist comes on his 34th birthday and marks his fourth career assist on December 18th (five games played). All those assists coming in the last two seasons with New Jersey. Credit: Craig Seiden, NJ Devils Radio Statistician
5. In a game that certainly didn't go the New Jersey Devils way, coach John Hynes elected to replace Keith Kinkaid after two periods of play. Kinkaid played the opening 40 minutes, making 16 saves on 21 shots. For Mackenzie Blackwood - Kinkaid's backup with the injury to Cory Schneider earlier this week - the final 20 minutes of the game against Toronto were the first of his NHL career. Not an easy thing to make your NHL debut in relief of another goaltender, but Blackwood handled himself in a tough situation making 8 of 10 saves.
In fact, Blackwood's first NHL save was a beautiful toe-save on a breakaway shot.
6. Blackwood became just the second goalie from the 2015 NHL draft class to play in the NHL. Adin Hill was the first, with Arizona (13 games played).
7. Nico Hischier had the Devils second goal of the night, his eighth of the season. Hischier received a heads-up pass from Taylor Hall who was close to the goal-line, to cash in on catching Anderson off-guard.
Hischier tapped in the puck in the slot to cut the Leafs lead to 5-2 at 14:47 of the third period.
8. New Jersey's power play has had a rough-go recently. After being shutout on the power play by Toronto, the Devils record in their last seven games is 3-for-22 with the man-advantage.
9. Devils captain Andy Greene played in career game 820 on Tuesday night, all with the New Jersey franchise. He now sits alone in eighth place in franchise history for games played, breaking a tie with former Devils Jay Pandolfo.
10. Before the holiday break, the Devils have three more games to play, two of which are against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They'll be in Columbus Thursday night before hosting the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Then, the Blue Jackets are in town for a 12:30pm matchup on Sunday, December 23rd.