photo from sfgate.com: New Jersey Devils center Pavel Zacha (37) pressures San Jose Sharks center Noah Gregor (73) in front of Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Newark, N.J
~ By Pearl Allison Lo
~ New Jersey Devils’ rookie goalie MacKenzie Blackwood followed his 52-save outing previously, with another fine performance for his fifth straight win Thursday.
With an average of 39.2 saves and a goal allowed during that streak, he made 36 saves against San Jose while holding them to a solo goal. The last time the Sharks scored less was February 1st.
Opposing goalie Martin Jones did not go down easy though, as he held his own, saving 23 of 25 shots.
The Devils now have wins in three straight home games, while the Sharks ended their hot four-game road streak.
On special teams, San Jose committed six penalties and New Jersey three. The game-winner occurred during the Shark’s fifth penalty.
Jacob Middleton for San Jose and the Devils’ John Hayden saw the box first at 7:26 for fighting. Middleton also tacked on an unsportsmanlike conduct. This gave Middleton a total of seven penalty minutes, his first as a member of the Sharks this year.
San Jose Barracuda call-ups were all featured in the opening scoring play. Alexander True in the faceoff circle recovered the puck, Middleton then got it, before passing cross-ice to Tim Heed. Heed put the first tally on the board through traffic from the far right point, with his first goal of the season in 27 games. It was also his second point of the season, with an assist back on November 12th. Middleton earned his first assist and point in five games this season. True played his seventh game and earned his fourth assist, his second in as many games.
Stefan Noesen ended the period for the Sharks with a tripping call at 19:46.
The second period featured five penalties, four of them before any scoring and four of them involving interference.
New Jersey followed shortly after Noesen’s with Wayne Simmonds interfering 47 seconds into the second. Teammate P.K. Subban got called for the same infraction at 7:11. San Jose’s Dylan Gambrell decided to interfere too at 9:55. Teammate Melker Karlsson had the only non-interference penalty of the period, as he put the puck over the glass for a game delay.
Jesper Bratt put the Devils on board at 16:15, after taking a long pass from Pavel Zacha all the way at the other end. Bratt won the one-on-one battle versus the outstretched Jones, sliding the puck around his skate.
Mario Ferraro also delayed the game with a puck over the glass to start the third at 1:06. This one was costly though, as Subban scored the game-winner with 10 seconds left in the penalty.
With Miles Wood screening Jones, Subban converted from the top of the right faceoff circle to give New Jersey the only lead they would need.
Up Next: Dakota Mermis made his Devils’ debut and finished a +1 in 17:44 of ice time. San Jose’s “Melker Karlsson left in a walking boot. He didn’t play in the third period,” reported Kevin Kurz of The Athletic. The Sharks continue their four-game road trip in the neighboring New state with the New York Rangers Saturday at 4pm.