Fast Start Highlighted By Youngsters Coming Through In Big Spots And Plenty Of Team-Wide Resiliency

By John Schweibacher
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With back-to-back home wins this past weekend, the New Jersey Devils equaled their highest victory total through the first 10 games of a season, matching the club’s 8-2 start in 1993-94.

The Devils trailed by one through two periods on Saturday, but rallied to beat the winless Coyotes, 4-3. Jesper Bratt scored the go-ahead goal with 4:13 remaining, and finished with a pair of assists.

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Bratt’s three-point game was his second of the young season and the fourth by a Devils rookie this month, joining Will Butcher (vs. Colorado in the season opener on Oct. 7) and Nico Hischier (at Ottawa on Oct. 9).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, before this season there had been only seven three-point games by New Jersey rookies in the month of October and none since Scott Gomez had one goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the Islanders at the Meadowlands on Oct. 16, 1999.

Brian Gibbons

Devils forward Brian Gibbons, right, scores on a penalty shot against Arizona goalie Louis Domingue during the first period at Prudential Center on Oct. 28, 2017. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brian Gibbons scored his fifth goal of the season —  on a shorthanded penalty shot — in the win over Arizona. It was the sixth time in club history the Devils were awarded a penalty shot attempt while killing off a penalty:

— 10/28/17: Brian Gibbons vs. Arizona — Scored
— 1/22/13: Ilya Kovalchuk vs. Philadelphia — Scored
— 10/21/11: Zack Parise vs. San Jose — Scored
— 10/31/09: Jamie Langenbrunner at Tampa Bay — Saved
— 11/11/98: Scott Niedermayer vs. Montreal — Scored
— 10/9/87: Mark Johnson vs. Pittsburgh — Saved

The Coyotes fell to 0-10-1 with the loss, tying them with the 1943-44 Rangers for the worst start to a season in league history.

The Devils’ worst start through 11 games was back in 1983-84 when they went 1-10.

The Devils beat the Senators, 5-4, on Friday night in a back-and-forth game decided in a shootout.

After falling behind 2-0 late in the first period, New Jersey scored the game’s next four goals and held that two-goal lead late in third period before Ottawa forced overtime with a pair in the final 1:15 of regulation.

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It marked the first time in club history that the Devils allowed two goals to tie the score against an opponent that had pulled its goalie for an extra attacker in the closing moments of regulation.

New Jersey once scored twice with its goaltender pulled late in regulation — in a 4-4 tie against the Islanders on March 7, 1985 at the Meadowlands.

That night, the Devils trailed 4-2 when they pulled Chico Resch in the final minutes. Dave Pichette and Pat Verbeek scored in the final 40 seconds.

Bratt scored the deciding goal in the shootout in Friday’s win over Ottawa.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bratt became the fourth rookie ever to score the deciding goal in a shootout for the Devils:

— 1/21/06: Zach Parise; Devils 3, Islanders 2
— 3/24/07: Travis Zajac; Devils 4, Florida 3
— 12/8/11: Adam Henrique; Devils 5, Ottawa 4

Friday night’s game against Ottawa came on the 10th anniversary of the Devils first game at Prudential Center, a 4-1 loss to the Senators on Oct. 27, 2007.

Only two players who appeared in Friday’s game also played in that first game at “The Rock”: defensemen Andy Greene and Johnny Oduya, who is now with Ottawa.

Next weekend, the Hockey Hall of Fame will hold its annual celebration in Toronto. Among this year’s new inductees is Dave Andreychuk, who was acquired by New Jersey at the trade deadline in 1996 and played for the Devils through the 1998-99 season.

In addition to former club president and general manager Lou Lamoriello and late head coaches Pat Burns and Herb Brooks, who were all inducted into the Hall of Fame as Builders, Andreychuk joins this list of 10 one-time Devils to get the nod:

— Dave Andreychuk (inducted in 2017): Played with Devils from 1995-96 to 1998-99
— Phil Housley (2015): 1995-96
— Scott Niedermayer (2013): 1991-92 to 2003-04
— Brendan Shanahan (2013): 1987-88 to 1990-91 & 2008-09
— Joe Nieuwendyk (2011): 2001-02 to 2002-03
— Doug Gilmour (2011): 1996-97 to 1997-98
— Igor Larionov (2008): 2003-04
— Scott Stevens (2007): 1991-92 to 2003-04
— Slava Fetisov (2001): 1989-90 to 1994-95
— Peter Stastny (1998): 1989-90 to 1992-93


Plus: High Five. The Devils have scored at least five goals (including shootout winners) in five of their 10 games this season. New Jersey scored at least five goals just five times overall last season.

Minus: Man Down. Kyle Palmieri will not travel with the Devils when they begin their western Canada road trip due to an injured left foot.