Four goals and 23 shots in the second period the difference as Devils roll over Blackhawks in Chicago
CHICAGO, IL - A four-goal, 23-shot second period was the difference for the New Jersey Devils as they roll into the holiday break with their best effort of the season, a 7-1 win in Chicago over the Blackhawks.
Fourteen different Devils players registered at least a point with four -- Travis Zajac, Blake Coleman, Damon Severson and Pavel Zacha -- each netting a goal and an assist and Nikita Gusev registering three assists.
The Devils head into the holiday break and will play the Toronto Maple Leafs this Friday. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET.
Blackwood made two huge saves off David Kampf three minutes into the game but after the second stop, Zack Smith picked up the puck and wrapped it in to put the Blackhawks on the board but the Devils responded with some emotion in their game.
John Hayden and Dennis Gilbert dropped the gloves for an extended fight after Gilbert leveled Miles Wood with an open-ice check midway through the period. Eventually the two tired and the referees broke them up. Hayden got two for instigating and an additional 10-minute misconduct, sending the Blackhawks to the power play.
Jack Hughes skated out from the corner of the Chicago zone and roofed it top corner on Crawford to tie the game with five minutes to go in the first.
"It was a great team effort. I felt the emotions, the energy. Yes, we had to kill a few penalties but I told the guys, I'll take that first period. They scored the first goal but we never wavered," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. "Guys showed passion, Jack scored a big goal and we just rolled from there."
After one, shots on goal were 14-8 for Chicago.
P.K. Subban let a shot go from the point that found its way over the shoulder of Corey Crawford to put the Devils in the lead 51 seconds into the middle frame, the best period of hockey the Devils have played all season without question.
"We had a lot of penalties. None of those we felt were bad ones. We want our guys to stick up for teammates. Not just guys like Simmer and Hayds. Those are easy penalties for us to kill," said Subban, as the team killed off ll seven Chicago power plays on the night. "Everybody's confident now. That's great going into the break."
Seven minutes into the period, shots on goal were 10-2 for New Jersey and the Devils just kept coming.
Damon Severson pinched in and picked up a drop pass from Nikita Gusev. He then cut towards the net and jammed the puck five-hole on Crawford to put the Devils up by two with 12:38 to go in the second.
"He made a good play dropping it to me," said Severson. "I saw a lane to the net and went to the net. I slid it five-hole. I don't get those opportunities often so I was more confused about what happened and excited I got such a lane to the net."
A minute after the Devils killed their fifth penalty of the night, they struck for another to make it a 4-1 game. John Hayden's wrist shot from the left circle beat Crawford. It was Hayden's first career goal as a Devil, coming against his old team.
"It was special. I have a lot of great memories here and a lot of respect for this organization," said Hayden, who got the jacket as most valuable player within the Devils room.
After that goal, Robin Lehner replaced Crawford in net.
Sami Vatanen was called for holding late in the period, New Jersey's sixth penalty. But the Devils penalty killers not only continued to be perfect, they scored one of their own.
Thirty-five seconds into the kill, Blake Coleman wired a shot into the glove of Lehner on the rush and Zajac was on the doorstep to put in the rebound.
Devils had 23 shots in the middle frame, outshooting Chicago 23-8. Overall in the game, shots were 31-22 after 40 minutes.
Eighteen seconds into the third period, Blake Coleman scored on a breakaway. He fired a shot low while falling and eluded Lehner.
Alex Nylander's deke attempt rang off the crossbar behind Blackwood in what was Chicago's best scoring chance since the opening period.
With 1:39 to go in the game, Pavel Zacha wired a shot from the slot past Lehner to make it 7-1.
"Pav was all over the ice and puck tonight. I was happy he got one at the end. He deserved it," said Nasreddine. The Devils coach also added that he was happy to see the team finish with 44 shots on goal.
"Number one thing I said when I came in was we need to play a skating game. We have fast forwards and D who can move the puck. When we skate, we're on the puck and more of a dynamic team. I thought the guys embraced that," he noted. "We've got to shoot more pucks. If you want to score, you've got to shoot pucks and go to the net. Play to the inside more."