GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Facing the second game of a back-to-back set on the road against a top team in the Western Conference and without their scoring leader, the struggling New Jersey Devils were poised for an eighth straight loss.
So it was easy to understand the Devils’ exuberant celebration of what ended up being the game-winning goal.
Kyle Palmieri broke a 1-1 tie in the third period, and the Devils held on for a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, ending a seven-game losing streak.
Palmieri’s team-leading 12th goal of the season came with 8:26 left as he flipped the puck high into net past Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper. Then Palmieri pumped his fist and shouted as teammates jumped on him near the benches.
“A lot of guys stepped up and were pulling in the right direction. It’s a good feeling when every guy in this room is battling for each other,” Palmieri said. “It felt nice to get rewarded for it.”
Jesper Boqvist also scored, and Michael McLeod and Miles Wood each had two assists to help the Devils get their first win this month. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 31 shots.
The win was interim coach Alain Nasreddine’s first since he stepped in for the fired John Hynes on Dec. 3.
“You look at the saves he makes, they look easy. And that gives the team a lot of confidence,” Nasreddine said of Blackwood.
Alex Goligoski scored for Arizona, which has lost five of its last seven home games but remains in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. Vinnie Hinostroza picked up his fourth assist in two games, and Darcy Kuemper finished with 31 saves.
The Devils played without Taylor Hall, whose 25 points lead the team, for the second straight game amid trade talks – with the Coyotes mentioned as one of the teams interested in acquiring the forward.
“That’s a game that’s going to sting a bit. It’s a game we feel we should have,” Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun said.
New Jersey scored first 2:17 into the game. Boqvist was in front to re-direct a rebound of a shot from McLeod for his third of the season.
Goligoski’s first goal in nine games came on the power play with 4:25 left in the first period. Goligoski brought the puck out of his own end, then took a pass from Hinostroza and sent a wrister past Blackwood to tie the score.
The Coyotes have seven power-play goals in the past seven games.
The Devils opened the second period on a power play after a high-sticking penalty to Goligoski just before the end of the first. Arizona killed the penalty and one other later in the period, thwarting the Devils’ man advantage three times on the night.
Blackwood turned away Conor Garland’s wide-open wrister at 5:55, keeping the score tied in the second period.
“Jersey had that one chance and they scored on a breakdown. We need some guys to produce,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “We got a good goaltender again, but I don’t think we gave up a lot of chances. I didn’t mind our game at all, we just didn’t execute.”
F Brayden Burke, called up from AHL Tucson on Friday, was one of the Coyotes’ scratches. D Oliver Ekman-Larsson passed Doug Smail for the fifth-most games played in franchise history, 692. The Devils placed G Louis Domingue, who suffered a lower-body injury Friday at Colorado, on injured reserve. G Evan Cormier was called up from Adirondack of the ECHL.
The Devils host Anaheim on Wednesday night.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)