Noesen, Wood lead Devils over Ducks
NEWARK, NJ — Adam Henrique and Sami Vatanen shared top billing heading into Monday’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, but when it was all said and done, it was Stefan Noesen who assumed the starring role.
Noesen scored twice in the third period as the Devils rallied for a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Ducks, the first game played between these teams since a Nov. 30 trade which sent Henrique to Anaheim in exchange for Vatanen.
“I like to fly under the radar as much as possible, that’s always been me,” said Noesen, who New Jersey claimed on waivers from Anaheim on Jan. 25 last season. “It’s a good feeling to beat your old team.”
Miles Wood also scored twice for the Devils (19-9-5), while Brian Boyle established a single-game career high with three assists. Rookie Jesper Bratt chipped in with a goal and an assist, and Vatanen picked up an assist for his first point since the trade.
“It’s a big character win for us,” said Vatanen. “We didn’t start very well, but we found a way to win the game.”
The Ducks (14-12-8), who held leads of 2-0 after one period and 3-1 midway through the second, failed to earn at least one point in the standings for the first time in eight games after previously winning three times and losing four in overtime.
“I think we stopped skating and then we stopped sharing the puck,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle in explaining why this game slipped away from his team.
It shaped up to be a happy homecoming for Henrique, who scored a beautiful goal, assisted on another and was saluted by the Devils organization with a video tribute on the scoreboard during a first-period play stoppage.
“It was certainly nice to have a great ovation from the fans, which was awesome, and the players, too,” said Henrique, who has four goals, four assists and eight points in nine games with the Ducks. “It was a special night from that side of things. Certainly, an experience I’ll always remember.”
With the Ducks already leading 1-0 on an early Ryan Getzlaf goal, Henrique made a perfect stretch pass off the left-wing boards that created a 3-on-1 opportunity which Jakob Silfverberg cashed in at 10:30 of the first period to make it 2-0.
The Devils got on the board with Wood’s first goal of the night — a deflection of a Vatanen power play slap shot — 8:11 into the second period before Henrique scored a memorable goal three minutes later to restore Anaheim’s two-goal lead.
Henrique victimized Vatanen with a flip pass to himself over the Devils defenseman’s head which led to a pretty backhand finish off the rush against his former team, giving Anaheim a 3-1 lead at 11:21.
“That was a nasty play, I have to say,” offered Vatanen. “I have to tip my hat for him. It’s something I’ve never seen.”
Added Devils goalie Cory Schneider, “Adam made a great play. I’ve never seen that before. Maybe he was saving it.”
While that goal could have buried New Jersey, it didn’t. Wood scored before the second period was over, his second of the game and ninth of the season, and the Devils then erupted for three goals in the third period.
Fresh out of the penalty box, Bratt buried a left-wing shot off the rush past Ducks goalie Ryan Miller to tie the game, 3-3, at 5:49 of the final period.
Then at 15:53, Noesen grabbed a loose puck off a scramble in front and fired it into a gaping net to give the Devils their first lead of the game.
“(Noesen) played there, that’s fun to do against your former team, so we’re happy for him” said Boyle, who assisted on each of New Jersey’s last three goals. “That’s a big goal.”
Noesen scored into an empty net at 19:53, his fifth of the season and third in the last three games, as New Jersey improved to 4-7-1 when trailing after two periods, ruining Henrique’s return in the process.
“Obviously disappointed,” said Henrique. “We left two points on the board there.”
NOTES: Devils RW Kyle Palmieri and LW Taylor Hall both returned to the lineup after injury absences. Palmieri missed 12 straight games with a broken foot and Hall sat out the last two with a sore knee. ... Devils coach John Hynes said before the game that injured LW Marcus Johansson (ankle) is close to returning and could play Thursday against the New York Rangers. ... The Devils scratches were RW Jimmy Hayes, D Ben Lovejoy and D Dalton Prout. ... The Ducks killed off 16 straight power plays coming into the game, but surrendered a power play goal on the Devils first opportunity Monday. ... The Ducks scratched C Dennis Rasmussen, D Francois Beauchemin and D Korbinian Holzer.