NEWARK–With just one win since the New Year, the Blackhawks scored enough to win most games. But after a miserable opening two periods, it was too steep a hill to climb as the Devils held on 8-5 in a wild game Monday night.
Kyle Palmieri scored twice within minutes of eachother in the second period to kickstart a five-goal period for New Jersey after Blake Coleman’s first period tally and Patrick Kane’s early notch on the power play saw the game evened at one.
Miles Wood, who earlier in the day was dubbed one of the league’s fastest players by his head coach, burst into the offensive zone for a chance that was stopped by Chicago starter, Cam Ward. But Travis Zajac was able to cleanup in front at 10:07 to add to the Devils lead, 4-1.
New Jersey’s power play went a perfect 2-for-2, Palmieri’s second period goal 8:27 in (to make it 3-1) was followed later by a Sami Vatanen blast from the point at 14:58. Kevin Rooney, who returned to the lineup, scored late in the period increasing the Devils lead to 6-1 and scoring his first career goal.
The always high-octane offense, Chicago found the back of the net twice before the second frame concluded. Kane’s one-timer beat New Jersey goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood at 18:19 and Brent Seabrook found himself on the receiving end of a Kane pass in front of the net for his 100th career goal.
In the third, Brett Seney’s 8:10 goal was met by a Dominik Kahun 7-4 answer seconds later. And with regulation starting to wind down, it was Brendan Saad’s 18:28 snap shot that returned the contest difference to two. Coleman would add his second of the game on the empty-net to help secure a second-straight win.
It was a strange game for 22-year-old, Blackwood, who made 27 saves on 32 shots and saw five shots in the first period. His workload got greater as the game progressed and started to open up a bit more, culminating in a 12 goals in the game’s final 40 minutes.
“A hockey game is a hockey game–you never know how it’s going to go before the game,” Blackwood said. “You have a gameplan and you draw it up, but when you get out there, you really just have to play it by year and just see the kind of shape it takes. That one started off low-scoring and then kind of opened up–a couple mistakes, a couple soft goals. It’s still nice to get the win and it feels nice any way you get it.”
Palmieri, who scored goals 21 and 22 on the season, knew the tempo of this game wasn’t the norm for this club, but wasn’t about to question the two points earned.
“I don’t think it’s really our style of play,” he said. “I think guys over in that locker room have proven they can put up 7, 8, 9 goals consistently. It’s not something we look to be as part of our gameplan. But, like I said it’s nice to be coming out on top and a win is a win. There’s some things we have to look at, get ready for tomorrow night, but right now it’s two points and we need every point we can get.”
For Devils head coach, John Hynes, the 6-1 lead, which was threatened in the final 22 minutes of the game, serves as a learning opportunity for his group.
“We did lots of good things, but we played a somewhat immature game at times,” Hynes said. “We go up 6-1 and then we just go to sleep at the end of the second and you just can’t do that. We had the opportunity to go in with a five-goal lead and we didn’t do that. It’s excellent that we found a way to win the game and we won the game, but I think there are lots of learning lessons in this game of maturity and understanding game situations and understanding that every team in this league is good.
“We got casual at times and when we got casual we paid for it.”
Up next for the Devils: The second half of a back-to-back on the road against division-foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Up next for the Blackhawks: A 7pm meeting at Madison Square Garden versus the Rangers to finish a short two-game NYC road trip.