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Stafford nets game-winning goal in 800th career NHL game

New Jersey defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout Friday night in Arizona

by Amanda Stein @amandacstein /

GLENDALE, AZ - The Devils and Coyotes played to a 2-2 tie through 60 minutes of play on Friday night in Arizona. Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman had the Devils regulation goals and after a scoreless overtime period, the two teams went to the shootout where Drew Stafford, in his 800th career NHL game, netted the game-winning goal for a 3-2 victory.

Here are 10 takeaways from the game:

1. Devils veteran forward Drew Stafford played in a milestone game against the Coyotes. Stafford suited up for his 800th career NHL game. Stafford played in 9:29 of the game but had the game winning goal in the shootout! 

2. Also celebrating a milestone night was Jesper Bratt. He played in career game 100 against Arizona. 

3. For forward Blake Pietila, he made his season debut with the Devils on Friday night. Pietila was recalled just prior to the Devils embarking on their current four-game road trip. The 25-year-old entered the game with 19 career NHL games of experience over the last three seasons. 

In his season debut, Pietila had a shot on goal in 11:07 of ice time. 

4. Nico Hischier celebrated his 20th birthday in style, completing a give-and-go play with Kyle Palmieri. Hischier's 11th goal of the season was scored on a wrist shot, but not before the referee's reviewed the play. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: ���In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal.���That's a birthday gift @nicohischier will take!

Coyotes forward Clayton Keller came streaking in alongside Palmieri and Hischier and crashed into the Arizona net, dislodging it from its moorings. Hischier took the shot while the net was dislodged. The refs determined that had the net stayed on its moorings, the puck would have crossed the line into the net and thus it was ruled a good-goal. 

Hischier has five points in his last five games (two goals, three assists).

As per NHL PR: "The Situation Room determined that the actions of Arizona's Clayton Keller knocked the net off its moorings as New Jersey's Nico Hischier's original shot crossed the Arizona goal line between the normal position of the goalposts. According to Rule 63.6 which states "In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal." Therefore, the Referee awarded a goal to New Jersey."

5. The Devils and Coyotes is a meeting between the NHL's No. 1 and No. 2 penalty-kills. The Coyotes boast the league best, while the Devils are right behind. New Jersey was forced to put their penalty-killing to a major test midway through the first period. They killed off a 1:41 5-on-3 with Blake Pietila, Blake Coleman, and Travis Zajac in the box for respective penalties. The Devils went on to kill off the ensuing 5-on-4 to keep the score 1-0. 

6. Mackenzie Blackwood started the game in net making seven saves on seven shots, before he was replaced by Keith Kinkaid. Blackwood left the game with 4:01 left in the first period with athletic trainers and did not return for the remainder of the game with a lower body injury. Blackwood was making his fifth consecutive start for New Jersey. 

7. Kinkaid in relief made 13 saves on 15 shots in regulation and another four in overtime. The 29-year-old goaltender was scheduled to have the night off and play in the Devils' next game on Sunday in Vegas. 

8. The second line of Miles Wood, Travis Zajac, and Blake Coleman connected in the second period on a sequence started by Wood at the blue line that resulted in Coleman's 12th goal of the season. While Wood was originally heading to the bench to make a line change, the puck bounced to him and he held the line shifting the puck up to Zajac. Zajac took the puck to the net and found Coleman open at the right post. The goal tied the game at 2-2 with 3:44 left in the second period. 

Tweet from @MSGNetworks: Believe in the power of the pickle. @BColes25 ties the game! Watch the 3rd period of the @NJDevils game on MSG+ &! #NJDevils

Coleman is now a goal shy of his career season high of 13, which he accomplished last season in 79 games. Coleman has reached 12 goals through the opening 40 games for the Devils this season. 

9. Coleman had an extra spark in his stride against the Coyotes, as he had eight of the Devils 31 regulation shots against Arizona netminder Darcy Kuemper. His eight shots on goal in a game marks a career high. 

10. Zajac's assist on the Coleman goal was his 13th point in his last 14 games played. He was coming off a two-assist night in Dallas entering the game against the Coyotes and now has five goals and eight assists in his last 14 games.

His assist has also tied former Devil Scott Gomez for 4th all-time points scored by a New Jersey Devil with 484.

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