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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Devils Dominate Capitals in 6-3 Victory

Hischier, Mercer, McLeod net two each en route to the Devils’ 6-3 victory over the Capitals.

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New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Battered and bruised yet again, the New Jersey Devils invaded the Capital One Arena to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

The Devils knew they were going to be minus Timo Meier on Wednesday. However, we found out in warmups that Ondrej Palat (lower-body) is dealing with an injury, too.

Although Graeme Clarke is on recall and with the Devils in Washington, he didn’t make his NHL debut. That will have to wait for another day.

Despite the key injuries, the Devils’ second line and depth scoring picked up the slack in New Jersey’s 6-3 victory over the Capitals.

Devils Recap

On the board first, again? Passing the puck off to Colin Miller, captain Nico Hischier buried a rebound on a shot by Miller off the rush. Before the halfway mark of the second period, Hischier netted his second goal on the power play redirecting a shot from the point. However, in the closing moments of the first period, Connor McMichael cut the Devils lead on a Capitals power play.

About halfway through the second period, Dawson Mercer and Evgeny Kuznetsov traded goals to make it a 3-2 game. John Carlson later scored on the power play, however, Michael McLeod regained the Devils’ lead in the dying moments of the second period. The Devils then stepped on the gas in the third period with Mercer and McLeod each scoring their second goal en route to a 6-3 victory.

Nico Daws made 23 saves on 26 shots securing the win. Hunter Shepard was rung up for six goals on 28 shots.

Takeaways

No Palat? No Problem

With Palat out of the lineup, Mercer slid up in the lineup next to Hischier.

It’s a look head coach Lindy Ruff has gone to before, one that he’s certainly praised defensively. However, Hischier and Mercer turned it up offensively in this one.

The Devils captain ensured that the Devils struck first for the second game in a row and quickly followed that with a goal on the power play. Mercer netted a pair himself, both in the slot where he likes to score most of his goals.

Hischier came quite close to scoring a hat-trick in the opening frame. However, Shepard fought off the Devils’ captain shot from a high-danger spot in the slot to preserve the Capitals’ two-goal deficit.

Hischier later tallied a helper on Mercer’s first goal of the game to cap off his three-point night. ‘Twas a strong showing from the captain and the third-year forward skating in his 200th NHL game (all consecutive).

Michael McLeod Dominates

Hischier and Mercer weren’t the only Devils forwards to ball out on Wednesday. McLeod played quite strong in a two-goal effort of his own.

His most impressive shift came late in the second period. The Devils had just given up the tying goal in the dying minutes of the middle frame. However, Alexander Holtz dumped a puck to McLeod on a rush. Opting for a spin-o-rama move, the Devils forward scored on the backhand to help the Devils regain their lead.

McLeod later doubled the Devils’ insurance, scoring the sixth and final goal of the contest burying a loose puck at the top of Washington’s crease.

McLeod’s play has continually grown from a defensive stalwart to a strong presence in all three zones. He’s now scored nine goals in 36 games, matching his previous career-high.

The 25-year-old forward finished Wednesday night’s contest as the Devils’ first-ranked skater in CF% (72.73%), xGF% (80.73), and had a positive 4-0 high-danger scoring chance differential, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Goaltending Hampered the Penalty Kill

The Devils’ goaltending couldn’t bail them out on the penalty kill tonight.

Interestingly enough, Washington’s power play is a bit different these days. Alexander Ovechkin isn’t scoring the way he used to. Although he was out there on the ice, he wasn’t the one filling the net. Instead, it was Connor McMichael and John Carlson scoring on the man advantage, an advantage that the Devils couldn’t contain.

It didn’t take much for the Capitals to score. On each of the three power plays, Washington put five shots on Daws. The first goal by McMichael was certainly saveable. Daws was down in the butterfly, stood up as McMichael got his shot off, and quickly dropped back down as the puck passed him and hit the net. The Devils did decently well trying to limit the Capitals to the perimeter which is where McMichael took his shot from. He wasn’t screened, he just wasn’t set, and thus the Capitals scored.

Washington’s second goal on the man advantage was a bit more traditional. Carlson’s shot came from the point after cycling the puck. Daws was screened this time, although, he was a bit too deep in the crease and dropped his glove going down to the butterfly. Had Daws left his glove up, the rubber disc wouldn’t have found twine.

Daws had some really good moments in this game as well. He stopped a breakaway chance for McMichael, plus a few other high-danger opportunities at 5-on-5. The Devils just needed a bit more support on the penalty kill and it wasn’t there Wednesday night.

Quick Shifts

  • Jack Hughes’ first-period power play assist was his 30th assist of the season in his 31st game and became the fastest player in Devils’ franchise history to reach the mark, besting Zach Parise’s pace in 2008-09 (33 GP).
  • Collecting two points, the Devils move back into playoff position in the second wild-card spot.
  • Luke Hughes earned the primary assist on Hischier’s first-period power-play goal, which extended the
    blueliner’s point streak to four games (3g-3a).
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