The New Jersey Devils lost their final game of the 2023 calendar year against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night and they blew a 2-0 lead to lose 5-2.
They needed a big bounce-back win in their first game of 2024 as they paid a visit to the Washington Capitals. They earned that win 6-3.
The Devils were winning 2-0 and 3-1 at one point but they allowed the Capitals to tie it at three. The tying goal came at 18:58 of the second period so it seemed like it would go to the third period tied.
However, the Devils got one back to take a 4-3 lead at 19:44 of the second. From there, they took over by adding two more in the third period. New Jersey needed a win just like this.
The New Jersey Devils are 20-14-2 with 42 points in the NHL standings
The New Jersey Devils have gotten bad goaltending this season. Vitek Vanecek has been pretty bad and Akira Schmid was sent back to the AHL. New Jersey has won a lot of games despite this issue.
They called up Nico Daws a few games ago when they sent Schmid down and he has been good. So far, he is 2-0-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
It is unclear if New Jersey will still trade for a goalie or ride with Daws but he is hot with his play right now. In this win over Washington, he made 23 saves on 26 shots. He will certainly see one of the two games in the weekend back-to-back.
Multiple two-goal scorers
In the win over the Capitals, three Devils players scored two goals. One of them was Captain Nico Hischier. He scored the first two goals of the game. His first goal was the result of some good effort and the second goal was a perfect redirect of a Luke Hughes shot.
Dawson Mercer and Michael McLeod each had two as well. Mercer had a slow start but he is now up to 12 goals on the season. His confidence is through the roof.
McLeod is a good depth player for this team now too. His goals were his 8th and 9th. The defense he plays is outstanding complimented by some really good offense. He is also one of the greatest faceoff men in the NHL which is no joke.
None of Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes, or Jesper Bratt were goal-scorers in this game and they still managed to tuck six. Everyone needs to contribute throughout the year for the team to win.
Timo Meier did not travel with the team to Washington. He was just starting to heat up before getting hurt against the Bruins last week but that's the way it goes sometimes.
Meier is out with what was described a "medium body injury". Nobody knows what that means but the Devils ran with that description. Hopefully, this is not a long term things.
Ondrej Palat was also missing from the lineup in this game. He was unable to finish practice on Tuesday and he didn't get into the game on Wednesday. He may be out for a few games according to Lindy Ruff.
The New Jersey Devils called up Graeme Clarke on Wednesday ahead of their game against the Capitals. The thought was that he was going to make his NHL debut in the game but that was not the case.
They have enough players to handle it if two forwards were out but there was worry that a third would be out. If that were the case, Clarke was there to play if needed. He was not needed as initially anticipated.
It will be interesting to see if he gets into a game before being sent back down to AHL Utica. With a back-to-back looming again this weekend, it might be something worth considering.
The upcoming back-to-back keeps being brought up. That first game will come on Friday when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks.
This will be a home game as Connor Bedard will make his first-ever trip to the Prudential Center. It should be very cool to see a few number-one overall picks play in this one.
Former Devils Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall will not be in the lineup for Chicago as he is out for the year due to injury. It would have been cool to see him back but that won't be the case.