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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Special Teams, Jake Allen Excell in 5-2 Victory Over Penguins

Meier, Mercer each score twice, Allen stops 36 puck in 5-2 victory over Penguins.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

NEWARK — The New Jersey Devils brought the Jake Allen show to Newark.

In Allen’s first home start in New Jersey, the new Devils goaltender was yet again fantastic, propelling his team to another victory, this time over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When it’s clicking for the Devils in net, it translates to the team in front of their goaltender, and Allen’s supporting cast certainly filled the net on the other end of the ice.

It’s now two wins in three starts for Allen, and in all three he’s not only given the Devils a chance to win, but he’s been their best player.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 5-2 victory over the Penguins.

Devils Recap

The Devils have managed to score the first goal in two games in a row. Dawson Mercer split two Pittsburgh defenders and poked the puck through the five-hole of Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Just about one full periods-worth of play later, Marcus Pettersson tied the game with a missile of a shot from the blue line. Later in the second period, Timo Meier deflected a Luke Hughes blast from the point on the power play to regain New Jersey’s lead. The Devils tripled their lead in the third period scoring twice in 15 seconds on goals by Alexander Holtz and a second for Mercer, and then Meier added a second power-play goal increasing the Devils’ lead by four. Bryan Rust potted a late one for the Penguins, but it wasn’t enough as the Devils held on for the 5-2 victory.

Allen stopped 36 of 38 pucks he faced in his third start, second victory for the Devils.


Fast Start

The Devils have scored the first goal of the game twice in a row now, however, Tuesday night’s start was one of their best.

Mercer got New Jersey off to a 1-0 just over five minutes into the first period, but it wasn’t just the scoreboard that indicated the Devils’ preparedness to play in the first period.

Throughout the lineup, top to bottom, the Devils consistently pressured the puck in all three zones from the first puck drop to the first intermission. They owned the puck on the end of their stick far more often than not, won their puck battles, limited the Penguins’ secondary scoring chances

And in the instances the Devils needed their goaltender to make a save, Allen was there to answer the call.

“(Our start) was one of our focal points for the game tonight. I thought it was excellent,” interim head coach Travis Green explained. “We did a lot of good things by just getting pucks behind them, playing direct, and getting pucks to the net. We probably should have had a couple of goals earlier, but it was a real good effort tonight.”

Special Teams Clicked

Tuesday night’s tilt against the Penguins was a rather disciplined game. There weren’t many calls made on the ice at all. However, the Devils made the most of their opportunities.

Starting on the penalty kill, Kevin Bahl and Luke Hughes took the only Devils penalties throughout the 60-minute effort. Pittsburgh generated very few chances on their advantages with the Devils aggressively in pursuit of the puck, forcing turnovers, and clearing the rubber to the other end of the ice.

As a result, Allen was forced to make just three saves over two penalty kills before the respective infractions expired.

New Jersey went six games without a goal on the power play leading up to their tilt with Pittsburgh. The Devils ended that drought in the second period with a timely goal on the man advantage when the game was knotted at one. Meier, setting up camp at the top of Jarry’s crease, deflected a Luke Hughes blast from the point and past the Penguins’ goaltender. Meier later added another power-play goal, batting a puck in the air into the net to increase the Devils’ lead by four.

The Devils figured out how to establish puck possession in the offensive zone while on the power play in this one. Previously, they had been skating the puck to the opposition’s blue line and more often than not, turning it over before creating any sort of offense. That wasn’t the case against the Penguins as the Devils were able to create skating lanes for themselves, control the offensive zone, work the puck, and open up shooting lanes, thus translating to the multi-goal effort at 5-on-4.

Green explains the Devils’ multi-power play effort was overdue and will hopefully give them the necessary confidence moving forward.

“Hopefully, it gives them a little bit (of confidence). They’ve been feeling it for a while,” Green stated. “They probably deserved a better fate over the last little while with the powerplay. But that’s the way it goes. To see them get rewarded tonight was great. Because, again, goals are hard to come by at this time of the year. Teams are dialed in defensively. The power play and special teams are important.”

Jake Allen Superb, Again

What more can we say about Jake Allen at this point?

The veteran goaltender has been a breath of fresh air for New Jersey. He’s now turned in three consecutive games with a .944 SV% or higher, registering a .947 SV% against the Penguins.

Allen’s 36 saves also translated to a 1.55 goals saved above expected, according to MoneyPuck.

Before puck drop, Green explained that Allen is playing like the veteran they brought him in to be. He’s making the saves they need him to make, as well as the ones they might not have expected him to.

“He’s looked sharp. He looks like a veteran goalie,” Green said. “(Jake) makes all the saves he should and every night you usually see a couple that — in today’s game — you say ‘Wow, that’s a good save.’ You need that at this time of year and he’s given that to us in his two games and he’ll be in again tonight.”

Allen did it again on Tuesday, this time against future Hall-of-Fame forward Sidney Crosby, sprawling for a blocker save with the net wide open. Pettersson then tried to bury the rebound chance, and Allen recovered to make another incredible stop on the Penguins defenseman.

“Everyone has those big moments and (Allen’s) been having a lot of them for us,” Mercer said after the 5-2 victory. “It definitely gets our emotions up and we make sure that we have his back (as well). He’s been doing that a lot for us here.”

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