The New Jersey Devils defeat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in their first win in Calgary in nearly a decade (last win: December 23rd, 2007). Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall both scored tonight and Hall’s goal was, shockingly enough, a power play goal. Sean Monahan scored the lone goal for the Flames. Devils outshot the Flames 36-32 (yes, you read that right: 36 shots) and killed both Calgary penalties. Overall, it was a really good game for the Devils and there are many positives to take out of it.
The team played a complete game, all 60 minutes. They were on the offensive for most of the game and spent more time out of their zone than in it (which is a huge step forward because they couldn’t seem to get out of their own zone last night). The Devils haven’t had any puck luck this season but they had at least a dozen good scoring chances tonight. The score doesn’t depict just how well the team played. It seems like every time P.A. Parenteau gets the puck, he has a good scoring chance, which is a good reason why he leads the team in goals.
It looked like we might lose a few forwards. Miles Wood took a nasty hit by Garnet Hathaway in the first period and Kyle Quincey stepped in to fight him. He was able to shake it off and even had a breakaway change later in the game (he’s a ton of fun to watch); he’s going to score plenty of breakaway goals in his NHL career. Parenteau also took a hit (I think, I’m still not quite sure what happened) in the third and looked like he was in pain but was able to shake it off. Adam Henrique also had a crucial blocked shot in the third that is definitely going to leave a mark.
Palmieri and Hall both scored tonight, Palmieri with his 9th and Hall with his 10th. Hall is tied for second in team goal leaders with Henrique and both of them are two behind Parenteau. Hall now has 27 points on the season and is tied with Travis Zajac for the team lead. Parenteau led the team in shots on goal with 8, Hall in second with 6. Jacob Josefson also returned to the lineup tonight after being activated off injured reserve earlier today and had five SOG.
Keith Kinkaid, who got the start tonight after Cory Schneider made six straight, stood on his head and made 31 saves on 32 shots and a few huge, momentum-changing ones as well. He now moves to 5-4-2 on the season and it was nice to see him finally get rewarded for how well he’s played this season.
In addition to Kinkaid, the defense has definitely gone to a new level. With as many problems as they were having earlier in the season and with three notable injuries, the defense has allowed the team to win every night. The highlight of tonight’s defense, as much as Devils fans would hate to admit it, was Jon Merrill. He had two important blocks at the end of the game to seal the Devils win but he played well whenever he was on the ice. He’s really changed as a defenseman in these last few weeks and I hope he’ll continue to take steps forward. Steven Santini has a +7 rating through his seven games played this season. I would hope he’s here to stay. He gives the Devils a chance to score every shift.
Tonight was one of those rare games where the offense and defense both came together and they were able to win. They played like a completely different team, one that we’ve only seen glimpses of in the last few games. If they continue to play like they did tonight, night in and night on, the playoff picture hasn’t completely disappeared (although it’s not entirely realistic). They now have three out of four possible points on this road trip thus far and will look for two more when they face the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night at 7PM.