Devils goaltender Cory Schneider (35) makes a save with his pads against Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (27). (Photo courtesy: Vincent Carchietta, USA TODAY Sports)
NEWARK – The St. Louis Blues (40-18-10) saw their 8-game win streak snapped against the New Jersey Devils (27-28-12), losing 4-2. Jordan Binnington stood tall for his club the entire game, but Jesper Bratt got the Devils on the board midway through the first thanks to the Devils speedy transitions. Vince Dunn would answer on the powerplay later, scoring an open rebound to tie the game.
St. Louis native Dakota Mermis scored his first NHL goal for the Devils to make it 2-1 in the second period. The Devils transition game caught the Blues chasing them for the majority of the first and second period, and it led to a late goal by Connor Carrick. Kevin Rooney nearly scored just moments later, but coach Craig Berube successfully challenged the goal for goaltender interference.
The Blues couldn’t manage to get much energy after the overturned goal in the third period, but still made some decent plays on Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. They showed some incredible urgency in the last three minutes after Jaden Schwartz buried a one-timer in front of Schneider; However, Joey Anderson scored on the empty net to seal the game, 4-2. Binnington made 28 saves in the Blues first loss in 9 games.
“I don’t think we established our net-front presence as early as we needed to tonight,” Ryan O’Reilly commented after the loss. “I think we kind of threw a lot of shots at [Schneider] that were kind of easy saves. If we make it difficult early, who knows; we might get a lucky bounce and change the momentum and get us ahead of it. It’s definitely unfortunate, you know, we have to respond. We didn’t play a great game tonight and we have to get back on track here.”
The Blues can start right back up on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at 6:30 pm CT, where the NBCSN broadcast crew will be entirely female. New Jersey head to MSG to take on the Rangers tomorrow night.
The Blues came out of the game a little flat-footed, facing a much different Devils team since the beginning of their 8-win streak. The Devils kept forcing the Blues back with their quick transitions and stretch passes through the neutral zone. The Blues couldn’t match the offensive pressure by New Jersey right in front of Jordan Binnington.
The plays from their own zone paid off when P.K. Subban fed Jesper Bratt at center ice. Bratt pulled off a marvelous deke on Colton Parayko and made another great move on Binnington to score.
The Devils went up 1-0 with even more frustrating forechecking and pressure throughout the remainder of the period. St. Louis managed to get a powerplay however, which finally gave them some sustained offensive momentum. Robert Thomas made a pass from up high to Tyler Bozak who ripped a shot on net in front of Schneider, and the rebound came right to Vince Dunn, who nailed the post to get St. Louis on the board.
The goal was Dunn’s 9th of the season, tying things up 1-1. The Blues wanted to get another one on the board, but couldn’t find their groove in the final 8 minutes of play in the first. The Blues skated off of Prudential ice tied 1-1, narrowly outshooting the Devils 9-8.
The Devils continued to look like the better team on the ice early in the second, with even more great transitions and textbook 2-1-2 forechecking in the offensive zone. Dakota Mermis carried the puck in and laid a soft shot on Binnington, and the puck came back to him after the Devils forced a turnover. His second shot went past Jordan Binnington, screened by Colton Parayko, and perfectly top shelf for his first NHL goal.
The goal put New Jersey up 2-1 early in the second period, and they did not let their foot off the gas. The Blues couldn’t find a spark for the rest of the period, despite landing some solid chances on Cory Schneider. Jordan Binnington, however, was the best Blues payer on the ice, making some great stops to keep the squad’s head above water.
The Devils continued to roll on through St. Louis, capitalizing on them towards the end of the period. Defenseman Connor Carrick sent a point shot in front of a screened Binnington that managed to beat him cleanly to double the Devils lead.
Carrick’s first of the year put New Jersey up 3-1 with two minutes to play in the second, and it only got worse. Kevin Rooney managed to break free of Robert Bortuzzo’s check in front of the net and made a slick backhand goal on Binnington. However, coach Craig Berube challenged the goal for goaltender interference, and the tally was overturned.
The challenge kept the score 3-1 and kept the Blues out of the penalty box, but they couldn’t find life in the final two minutes. The score would remain 3-1 after 40 minutes of play, with the shot totals even at 23 apiece.
While the overturned goal should have given the Blues some newfound energy, they couldn’t capitalize in the third period. New Jersey stuck to the same formula as they had all game, and not even the line changes by Berube was able to fix that. Schneider had his best performance of the game in the third, where he robbed both Jaden Schwartz and Marco Scandella on two separate plays.
He could not stop Schwartz entirely, however – after defensive breakdown behind the New Jersey net, Brayden Schenn made a perfect feed to Schwartz, who easily roofed a one-timer directly in front of Schneider in the dying minutes of the game.
The Blues got their break and finally pulled goaltender Jordan Binnington in the final 90 seconds of the game, and St. Louis showed the most life and urgency of the entire game. There was a lot of heavy play right around the net and solid forechecking along the boards that had made the Blues so successful, but it was too little, too late. Pavel Zacha managed to get the puck out of the zone for Joey Anderson who easily scored on the empty net to make it 4-2.
With one minute remaining, that was all she wrote in New Jersey. The Devils took down the Blues by a score of 4-2, with Cory Schneider getting his first win at home this regular season. Binnington was the best player for the Blues all night, making 28 saves on 32 Devils shots.
A frustrated Blues team acknowledged that the Devils simply played better than them for the majority of the evening. “I don’t think we established our net-front presence as early as we needed to tonight,” Ryan O’Reilly commented after the loss. “I think we kind of threw a lot of shots at [Schneider] that were kind of easy saves. If we make it difficult early, who knows; we might get a lucky bounce and change the momentum and get us ahead of it. It’s definitely unfortunate, you know, but we have to respond. We didn’t play a great game tonight and we have to get back on track here.”
“We just gotta move on from this game and focus on Chicago, that’s it,” coach Craig Berube said. “It’s over with. I’m not gonna sit here and harp on this game; they were the better team and they beat us.”
The Blues continue on to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Sunday at 6:30 pm CT, on NBCSN, while the Devils head up to New York to take on the Rangers.
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