By Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press on December 9, 2023.
CALGARY – Nico Hischier scored twice and Jesper Bratt had a goal and an assist to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames in NHL action on Saturday afternoon.
Timo Meier also scored for New Jersey (14-10-1), which has won three straight game and six of its last seven.
Former Devil Yegor Sharangovich and Nazem Kadri scored for Calgary (11-13-3).
The Flames finish at .500 (3-3-0) on their six-game home stand.
Devils netminder Vitek Vanecek made 23 saves for the victory to improve to 10-5-0 on the season.
Rookie Dustin Wolf, making consecutive starts for the first time in his career, had 26 stops for Calgary. His record falls to 1-2-0.
The Devils secured a lasting lead at 12:31 of the second period on a controversial goal that broke a 1-1 deadlock.
After Hischier mishandled the puck on a scoring chance, Flames forward Blake Coleman banked a clearing attempt off Bratt and into the net. However, seconds earlier, Wolf had been knocked off balance and sent spinning when Hischier slid into his pads.
Calgary coach Ryan Huska challenged for goalie interference, but the call stood with the explanation that it was the actions of Coleman on the backcheck, which sent Hischier into the netminder.
Bratt now has points in four straight games (3 goals, 3 assists).
Up 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Devils took a two-goal lead at 8:59 of the third when Wolf’s errant outlet pass was intercepted by Alexander Holtz, who fired a puck towards the front of the net where it was deflected by Meier.
The Flames lead the NHL with five wins when trailing after two periods and they made it a one-goal game again on Kadri’s marker at 14:46, but Hischier’s empty-net goal with 38 seconds remaining put the game away.
Down 1-0 after the first period, New Jersey tied it 1-1 at 3:28 of the second.
Off a Coleman turnover in his own end, the Devils quick attacked with Bratt sending a pass across to Hischier who, from a sharp angle, ripped a shot past Wolf on his glove side.
Scoreless and penalty-free through most of the first period, New Jersey got the game’s first man advantage with just over two minutes to go, but as the Devils sent out the NHL’s No. 1 ranked power play, it was the Flames that scored short-handed.
Getting in behind the New Jersey defence, Sharangovich corralled a bouncing puck and moved in on breakaway, scoring on a beautiful backhand deke.
It was the fifth short-handed goal of the season for Calgary and second for Sharangovich, who was acquired from New Jersey in a trade last off-season that sent Tyler Toffoli to the Devils.
EARLY SCORING WOES
Flames scored first for the first time in nine games. It’s just the 10th time Calgary has scored the opening goal. Entering the game, only three teams had scored first less often with the worst being New Jersey, who has only done it seven times.
POWER PLAY OUTAGE
Flames did not receive a power play and are now 3-for-45 over their last 16 games. Calgary, which entered the game ranked 28th with the man advantage, has 10 power-play goals on the season and they’ve come from 10 different players.
Calgary D Rasmus Andersson played in his 400th NHL game. Drafted by the Flames in the second round in 2015, Andersson has 175 career points (31 goals, 144 assists). The 27-year-old leads the club in average ice time (23:53).
Devils: Wrap up their four-game road trip in Edmonton on Sunday.
Flames: Begin a three-game road trip on Monday in Colorado.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2023.