Blackwood Blanks Kings, 3-0, for Devils’ Second Consecutive Shutout

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NEWARK, NJ — The only thing missing in MacKenzie Blackwood’s game right now is his four front teeth.

Blackwood turned aside all 37 shots he faced — including an Anze Kopitar penalty shot — while Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman and Kyle Palmieri all struck in a span of 5:05 in the middle frame as the New Jersey Devils shut out the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0, Saturday night at Prudential Center.

It marked back-to-back shutouts for Blackwood, who extended his scoreless streak to 134:26 following a 47-save shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and the Devils’ first win at home in almost a month.

“Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t get teeth,” Blackwood, who last surrendered a goal to Nashville’s Filip Forsberg on Jan. 30, joked. “It’s good. Obviously, you get a little bit lucky at times — they hit a post — but tonight was another good performance by our team.

“This team has been working hard — that’s the one thing I’ll say about us the whole year,” Blackwood said. “We haven’t quit, we haven’t stopped working, we’ve been working through it all.” 

Los Angeles peppered Blackwood with 13 shots in the opening frame, but the Thunder Bay, Ont. native denied the Kings at every turn leading to a scoreless first period thanks to the play of Cal Petersen at the other end of the ice.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Cal Petersen #40 in action against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 8, 2020 at Prudential Center in Newark. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Making his first start of the season for the Kings after being called up from the AHL following the trade that shipped Jack Campbell to Toronto, the three-year standout for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t need luck on his side to steer aside Gusev and Coleman on breakaways to keep it scoreless through the first 20 minutes.

Both Devils players would find redemption in the second, however.

Just 5:38 into the middle frame, Gusev’s one-timer from Damon Severson while stationed at the left faceoff circle blew by Peterson for a 1-0 lead.

On the power play just 1:57 later it was Coleman’s turn sniping the top-right corner from the slot for his team-leading 21st of the season from Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Palmieri for a 2-0 lead.

The bang-bang goals sent the Devils’ Den — who last witnessed a victory on home ice back on Jan. 12 in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay — into a frenzy while providing Blackwood all the support he needed in between the pipes.

With too many blown leads in the third and overtime at home this season, the Devils instinctively kept the pressure on and scored their third goal in a span of 5:05 when Palmieri deflected teammate Andy Greene’s shot through a screen to make it 3-0.

Damon Severson #28, Andy Greene #6 and Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils congratulate Nikita Gusev #97 after he scored in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The goal was Palmieri’s 20th of the season becoming the first Devil since Brian Gionta (2003-’09) to record five consecutive 20-goal seasons.

“We’ve become pretty dangerous,” Coleman said. “It’s a big momentum shift when a PK can make a power play work harder than they want to or capitalize on scoring chances. 

“It’s a good sign. The more you have a team on their heels like that the less opportunities they’re getting. Once we got going there in the second we took over. I thought we were the better team for the last 40 (minutes).”

Related: Hockey Fights Cancer! Devils Clip Detroit Red Wings

Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils makes pad save on Austin Wagner #51 of the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Blessed with a three-goal lead, the Kings nearly cashed in when Kopitar got loose in behind the Devils’ defense. The Kings’ captain was awarded a penalty shot after officials ruled Damon Severson impeded his path to the net, but once again Blackwood was there to deny him closing the pads.

“He kind of had a breakaway before. I don’t know if he got tripped but he got the backhand off and they called for the penalty shot,” Blackwood said. “I just tried to get out, get big and make him make a move to try and beat me and place a perfect shot. I was fortunate enough to read that one.”

Related: Kovalchuk Scores; Kings Get Three Goals in 1:20 to Beat Devils

MacKenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils stops a penalty shot by Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings in the second period at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It was just the eighth win at “The Rock” for the Devils this season, which improve to 20-24-10 overall. The Kings drop to 19-32-5. 

“A commitment to defense and strong goaltending from Blacky,” Coleman said. “Everyone’s bought in. Everyone’s having fun and it’s a good feeling in the room right now. A slow start to the year but we’ve really come on the last few months.”

Despite yielding 37 shots on goal, many of the Kings’ chances were from the outside, however, with low probability shots from the point that didn’t squeak through. 

“A little too much vanilla from a lot of guys, and obviously the lack of offense comes back to bite us,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We are desperately searching for some help offensively. There have been a lot of players who have played a lot of games for us, and they haven’t hit the score sheet or even the chance sheet.”

Petersen finished with 31 saves. 

“Quite happy with his play,” McLellan said. “He made some real good saves. Even on the goals, I don’t think we could fault him on any of them. He had a real solid night coming in. It’s like a pitcher. You can almost throw a perfect game and lose.”

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings and Wayne Simmonds #17 of the New Jersey Devils fight for the puck in the third period at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark. The Devils defeated the Kings 3-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Devils’ coach Alain Nasreddine was pleased with the play of Coleman and said the feisty forward is no longer a secret in the NHL.

“I don’t know if he is anymore. He’s at 20 now. Guys who score 20 in this league get recognition,” Nasreddine said. “He stands out with his work ethic. He’s in tremendous shape. There’s no drop in his energy. Every shift he’s ready to go.

“Back-to-back shutouts — Blacky has been huge,” Nasreddine continued. Defensively, guys are battling. I’d still like our guys to give up a little less (shots) but it’s a work in progress. Two shutouts in two games is something you like to see as coach.”

Blake Coleman #20 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his goal with teammate Damon Severson #28 in the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Devils blocked 18 shots in front of Blackwood.

“Everyone in this room plays for each other. It’s awesome to see everyone care (and block shots). It just makes me want to battle for them even more,” Blackwood said.

“I trust myself. Sometimes they beat you and there’s nothing you can do about it — they make a perfect shot or tip — but I just take it one shot at a time and save the next one. 

The Devils are 3-0-3 in their last six games and are in the midst of a season-high six-game point streak. Next up, the Devils host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at Prudential Center.

The Kings will look to end their four-game East Coast swing with a win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Mirco Mueller #25 of the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the New Jersey Devils celebrate the shutout against the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on February 08, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey.The New Jersey Devils defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Scoring

1-0 NJ Nikita Gusev (Damon Severson) 14:22-2nd

2-0 NJ Blake Coleman (Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Palmieri) 12:25-2nd PPG

3-0 NJ Kyle Palmieri (Jack Hughes, Andy Greene) 9:17-2nd

Shots: 37-34 LA; Blackwood, NJ, 37 saves; Petersen, LA, 34 saves

 

 

Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan

 

 Main Image: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) during the second period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings on February 8, 2020 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

 

Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils congratulates MacKenzie Blackwood #29 after he shut out the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on Feb. 08, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. The New Jersey Devils defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

 

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