New Jersey Devils News & Clips: Dec. 11, 2018





The Devils fell to the Sharks, 5-2, in their second and final head-to-head contest of the 2018-19 campaign last night at SAP Center. Last nights contest concluded the Devils fourth set of back-to-back games. New Jersey is 0-3-1 in second games.

The Devils will face-off with the Golden Knights on Friday, December 14th, at Prudential Center (7 pm, MSG+, ATTSN-RM).

Abbey Mastracco, The Record, spoke to Devils captain Andy Greene about the teams struggle to close games and what needs to be fixed.

“We came out really well but it’s been the same thing we’ve had throughout the season,” captain Andy Greene said. “We have really good spurts and then all of the sudden one thing and two things happen and we wilt. I don’t know why. I don’t understand it. That’s something we need to fix and fix very fast.”

Mastracco also spoke to Devils head coach John Hynes about why he believes the team needs to have more effective puck management.

“When you look at what it is and what we’re going to continue to work with these guys on is understanding that when there’s no time and space and the other team has numbers on defense, the puck needs to be put behind them,” Hynes said. “That’s how you can maintain your momentum.”

“We’re getting to the hard areas on the ice,” Hynes said. “We’ve had opportunities for tip goals, rebound goals and ones where it’s difficult to defend the net area. That’s how you have to score.”

Chris Ryan,, wrote his newest edition of NHL power rankings.

Amanda Stein,, wrote her 10 takeaways following the Devils 5-2 loss to the Sharks last night in San Jose.

Mike Morreale,, spoke to Devils general manager Ray Shero in’s weekly edition of
“Five Questions With.”



1. NJ Devils keep ‘wilting,’ and other takeaways from their California trip

By Abbey Mastracco, Fire and Ice

SAN JOSE, California — A few years ago, hockey’s West Coast swing was often referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle” trip or “Death Valley.” The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were among the best, not only in the west but in the league itself.

The timezone, weather and entertainment options meant teams would come in looking like one version and come out looking like another.

But times have changed in the Western Conference, and the trip isn’t what it used to be. The Devils used their three-game California swing to gain confidence in some areas and earn some much-needed points, though not as many as they had hoped to come away with. They went 1-1-1, defeating the Kings, losing in a shootout to the Ducks, and dropping the Golden State finale 5-2 to the Sharks on Monday night.

The frustrating part is the Devils couldn’t sustain any success. They made too many small mistakes that added up to bigger mistakes of the game-changing variety.

Here are three things we learned about the Devils in California:

They ‘wilt’

Just when the Devils thought they’d be able to string together a point streak, they let a bad 10 minutes derail them in San Jose. They kept the Sharks in their own end for the first 10 minutes of the game and outshot them 7-0. New Jersey went up 1-0 on a fluky shot by Drew Stafford but then suddenly the ice tilted, and the Sharks were up 2-1 by the end of the period.

“We came out really well but it’s been the same thing we’ve had throughout the season,” captain Andy Greene said. “We have really good spurts and then all of the sudden one thing and two things happen and we wilt. I don’t know why. I don’t understand it. That’s something we need to fix and fix very fast.”

It’s not that resiliency is an issue. The Devils showed it one night prior in Anaheim when they came back from scoring three times into their own net to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The problem is the resiliency isn’t showing up on a nightly basis.

They’re not maintaining momentum

All three west coast games were characterized by wild momentum swings. Coach John Hynes wants to see more effective puck management in the neutral zone in order to combat this.

“When you look at what it is and what we’re going to continue to work with these guys on is understanding that when there’s no time and space and the other team has numbers on defense, the puck needs to be put behind them,” Hynes said. “That’s how you can maintain your momentum.”

Scoring chances are coming

This trip saw the Devils going to the net and being rewarded. Greene’s goal against San Jose was a rebound he cleaned up from right in front. Marcus Johansson’s game-tying goal in Anaheim was a 6-on-5 goal from nearly the same spot.

“We’re getting to the hard areas on the ice,” Hynes said. “We’ve had opportunities for tip goals, rebound goals and ones where it’s difficult to defend the net area. That’s how you have to score.”

When the Devils are in the offensive zone, they’re doing the right things. The problem seems to be getting into the offensive zone and staying there.

2. NJ Devils finish California swing with 5-2 loss to Sharks

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

SAN JOSE, California — The good news is that the Devils scored two goals into the correct net.

The bad news is that the San Jose Sharks scored three more than them to hand them a 5-2 loss on Monday night at SAP Center. One night after a shootout loss in which they scored five goals and three into the wrong net, the offense was sparse.

The Devils, the owners of the fewest road wins in the NHL, were aiming to finish their three-game California swing with five points but they finished with just three as their road record slipped to 3-11-2.

“We didn’t reach our goal,” Devils’ alternate captain Travis Zajac said. “That’s for sure.”

It was a frustrating game that saw New Jersey (10-13-6, 26 points) looking like the best team in the league through the first 10 minutes of the period to a team all out of sorts the rest of the way through. The Sharks (16-11-5, 37 points) were without a shot on goal for the first 10:33 of play and the Devils went up 1-0 less than two minutes later when Drew Stafford, who re-entered the lineup after being scratched 14 of the last 15 games, beat Martin Jones from a sharp angle.

But the Devils seemed to wilt shortly thereafter and they went into the first intermission down 2-1. It was the seventh time this season New Jersey has given up multiple goals in the first period of a road game.

“I think that’s pretty accurate, unfortunately,” Devils’ captain Andy Greene said. “We had a really good start, a really good first 10 minutes or so and then we got one and we were a little unsure of ourselves for whatever reason.”

Timo Meier scored twice for San Jose and Jones made 22 saves.

Keith Kinkaid made 29 saves for New Jersey.

Meier tied the game for the Sharks at 15:51 in the first period and Joe Pavelski made it 2-1 when he tipped in a rebound from a Brendan Dillon shot past Kinkaid with just under two minutes left in the period. It was the Sharks’ captain’s 20th score on the year.

Radim Simek scored his first NHL goal 7:19 into the second period when he put a point shot through traffic. Kinkaid may not have even seen the puck. The Devils knew what was coming but they couldn’t stop it.

“It’s exactly what we anticipated,” Greene said. “We’ve got to have better coverage there and get more traffic down on their end too.”

There was new life breathed into the Devils when Greene cleaned up a rebound for his first goal of the season at 8:59 in the second, cutting the lead to 3-2. If there was a chance to tie, it came at 12:35 in the same period when Sami Vatanen drew an interference penalty on Joonas Donskoi. But the power play went nowhere and right after time expired Meier came down and banked one off the crossbar off the rush to make it 4-2.

A broken stick somehow led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 14:14, giving the Sharks a late power play. There was some confusion over the penalty, which was initially called a delay of game penalty on Vatanen, and coach John Hynes was visibly upset with the officials. Miles Wood served the penalty but he wasn’t in the box for long.

It took Tomas Hertl all of nine seconds to capitalize.

“It’s the wrong call,” Zajac said. “But we obviously couldn’t change his mind. We needed a kill there and we couldn’t do it.”

While there’s no doubt the effort was there on the part of New Jersey, breakouts were bad, decisions were questionable and the goaltending was shaky once again. The Devils came up north after going 1-0-1 against Los Angeles and Anaheim confident that they were trending in the right direction. But it seems as though every time they start to gain some ground they get stuck in neutral, unable to string wins together consistently.

“It’s been a challenge,” Hynes said. “That’s something that we’ll continue to dig in and work with this team on and eventually it will click.”


The Sharks saluted Devils’ assistant coach Mike Grier during the second period. Grier played three seasons in San Jose. … The Devils finished the season series with San Jose 1-1-0. … Kyle Palmieri extended his point streak to three games and has six points in his last five. … New Jersey scratched former Sharks’ defenseman Mirco Mueller as well as Steven Santini and forward Stefan Noesen.

3. What GM Ray Shero said about Devils’ start to season and where team stands in rebuild

By Chris Ryan,

The Devils’ 10-13-6 start is a far cry from the team that finished with 97 points en route to a playoff berth in 2017-18, and even if the Devils weren’t ready to take the next big step toward being a contender this season, they aren’t getting similar results that led to a wild-card spot last season.

Since taking over as general manager in 2015, Ray Shero has preached rebuilding the Devils the right way, without any shortcuts. The Devils made a huge leap in 2017-18, going from last in the Eastern Conference the prior season to making the playoffs. Now they’re facing adversity.

Here’s what Shero told about the Devils’ results this season and where the team stands in its rebuild:

“Last year gave both hope and optimism. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Our fan base finally saw the vision we talked about my first two years through drafting, developing, and making proper trades; you could see it start to come together. We established something where you could see more talent, more belief and a commitment to hold each other accountable, whether they were younger players or veterans.

“I know we have a ways to go, not just to get to Game 82 (this season), but over the course of the next two or three years. It’s all really the start (of our build) I envisioned when I came here. I said last November (2017), that I felt like this is turning. I know it, I’ve been through this before with Nashville and Ottawa (as assistant GM). With Josh (Harris) and David (Blitzer), we have stayed true to our plan, no shortcuts. There will be speed bumps along the way, but this is the right way to do it.”

Shero continued to say he wants to build the Devils into a team that competes for a playoff spot every season, and the team will continue to look for ways to make that happen in the short and long term.

4. NHL power rankings: Steven Stamkos’ Tampa Bay Lightning or Auston Matthews’ Toronto Maple Leafs No. 1? Predators, Capitals, Sabres falling

By Chris Ryan,

December hockey is in full swing, and if the 2018-19 NHL season has proved anything so far, the Atlantic Division is going to be a battle until the very end.

Following a 10-game winning streak, the Buffalo Sabres came back down to earth with a five-game losing streak that did include defeats against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning have surged to a big lead atop the NHL standings with their own six-game winning streak, while the Leafs are at full strength with Auston Matthews and William Nylander in the fold. The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have also played well in pursuit of the top three teams.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks continued their plummet to the bottom of the standings, while the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks have also struggled.

Here are NJ Advance Media’s NHL power rankings entering the week of Dec. 10. Last week’s rankings can be found here. Records reflect games played through Sunday, Dec. 9.

31-Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 9-17-5 (23 points)

Last week: 29

The Blackhawks have lost seven straight games, all in regulation. Chicago was 6-6-3 when it fired Joel Quenneville, and they’re 3-11-2 since.

30-Los Angeles Kings

Record: 11-18-1 (23 points)

Last week: 31

The Kings dropped game to the Devils and Coyotes, but they ended the week with a 5-1 win over the Golden Knights.

29-St. Louis Blues

Record: 10-14-4 (24 points)

Last week: 30

Despite grabbing a 1-0 road win over a good Jets team, the Blues ended the week with a 6-1 home loss to the Canucks. A coaching change hasn’t helped much here, either.

28-Ottawa Senators

Record: 13-14-4 (30 points)

Last week: 27

Following two losses in a home-and-home against the Montreal Canadiens, the Senators won in overtime over the Penguins before losing in extra time to the Bruins.

27-Vancouver Canucks

Record: 13-16-3 (29 points)

Last week: 26

The win over the Blues gave the Canucks their first two-game winning streak since Nov. 2, and it helped them bounce out of a stretch where they lost 12 of 13 games.

26-Arizona Coyotes

Record: 13-13-2 (28 points)

Last week: 28

A win overt the Kings to start the week pushed the Coyotes’ winning streak to four games, but they dropped home games against the Capitals and Sharks to end it.

25-New Jersey Devils

Record: 10-12-6 (26 points)

Last week: 25

A win over the Kings snapped a six-game losing streak before the Devils dropped a wild 6-5 shootout to the Ducks on Sunday. The Devils have lost seven of eight, but they have picked up six points in that stretch, going 1-3-4. They’re winless in six games that have gone past regulation this season.

24-Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 12-13-3 (27 points)

Last week: 24

After hiring Chuck Fletcher as the team’s new GM early in the week, the Flyers rallied for a 6-2 win over the Sabres on Saturday. They were then lit up in a 7-1 road loss to the Jets on Sunday.

23-Florida Panthers

Record: 11-11-6 (28 points)

Last week: 23

A 5-0 win over the Bruins marked a strong start to the week, but the Avalanche and Rangers beat the Panthers to knock them back down to .500.

22-Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: 12-10-6 (30 points)

Last week: 22

The Penguins had their best week since early in the season by going 2-0-1, which included convincing home wins over the Avalanche and Islanders.

21-Detroit Red Wings

Record: 13-13-4 (30 points)

Last week: 20

The Red Wings grabbed an overtime win over the Maple Leafs, but Detroit lost three of four overall last week.

20-Carolina Hurricanes

Record: 13-11-4 (30 points)

Last week: 20

A win over the Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak for Carolina and salvaged two points on the team’s California road trip.

19-New York Rangers

Record: 14-12-3 (31 points)

Last week: 17

The Rangers played only one game last week, taking 5-4 shootout win over the Panthers on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.

18-Montreal Canadiens

Record: 15-10-5 (35 points)

Last week: 18

Since a five-game losing streak, the Habs have won four of five games, including all three they played last week.

17-New York Islanders

Record: 14-11-3 (31 points)

Last week: 14

The Islanders topped the Red Wings, 3-2, to snap a two-game slide after losses to the Penguins and Jets earlier in the week.

16-Minnesota Wild

Record: 15-12-2 (32 points)

Last week: 11

A 7-2 loss to the Oilers gave the Wild their fifth loss in six games. Since moving to 11-4-2, the Wild are just 4-8-0.

15-Edmonton Oilers

Record: 16-12-2 (34 points)

Last week: 21

Here’s a look at a coaching change that appears to be working. The Oilers have won six of their past seven games, including three straight. Under Ken Hitchcock, the Oilers are 7-2-1.

14-San Jose Sharks

Record: 15-11-5 (35 points)

Last week: 13

The Sharks snapped out of a four-game losing streak by winning three of four games. For a team many expected to contend for a Stanley Cup, the Sharks have been very up and down this season. They still have plenty of time to piece things together.

13-Dallas Stars

Record: 16-11-3 (35 points)

Last week: 12

The Stars had a four-game winning streak snapped with a loss to the Golden Knights on Sunday.

12-Vegas Golden Knights

Record: 17-14-1 (35 points)

Last week: 16

Winning three of four games last week helped the Golden Knights’ continued surge up the standings. They’ve won eight of 10 games overall.

11-Anaheim Ducks

Record: 16-11-5 (37 points)

Last week: 15

Outside of a loss to the Hurricanes on Friday, the Ducks have been rolling, winning six of seven overall.

10-Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 16-11-2 (34 points)

Last week: 10

The Blue Jackets had a big chance for a statement win over the Capitals, but the Stanley Cup champions won emphatically, 4-0.

9-Boston Bruins

Record: 16-10-4 (36 points)

Last week: 9

Wins over the Leafs and Senators ended a three-game slide for the Bruins. Sitting at 36 points would be enough for a divisional playoff spot in three other divisions, but they’re in fourth in the Atlantic.

8-Buffalo Sabres

Record: 17-9-4 (38 points)

Last week: 4

The hottest team in hockey cooled off very quickly. Following a 10-game winning streak, the Sabres lost their next five games, though they did take the Leafs to overtime.

7-Calgary Flames

Record: 19-10-2 (40 points)

Last week: 8

A 1-0 loss to the Oilers snapped a five-game winning streak. Outside that, the Flames have established themselves as one of the top teams to beat in the Pacific.

6-Washington Capitals

Record: 17-9-3 (37 points)

Last week: 7

Back-to-back losses to the Ducks and Golden Knights ended a seven-game winning streak, but the Caps rebounded to beat the Coyotes and Blue Jackets to end the week.

5-Colorado Avalanche

Record: 16-6-5 (37 points)

Last week: 6

The Avs went 2-2-0 on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip that included stops to play the Penguins and Lightning.

4-Winnipeg Jets

Record: 18-9-2 (38 points)

Last week: 5

The Jets appear to be rounding into championship form. Despite a 1-0 loss to the Blues, they

have won five of their past six games.

3-Nashville Predators

Record: 19-10-1 (39 points)

Last week: 2

Injuries have caught up with the Preds a bit, and they have quietly lost four of six games.

2-Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: 20-9-1 (41 points)

Last week: 3

With Auston Matthews and William Nylander now in the lineup, the Leafs are finally at full strength. They’re going to stay near the top of the standings all season.

1-Tampa Bay Lightning

Record: 23-7-1 (47 points)

Last week: 1

The Lightning ended the Sabres’ 10-game winning streak, and that sparked their own six-game winning streak. The Lightning have, as expected, established themselves as the NHL’s elite.

5. Devils can’t contain Sharks in loss to end road trip | Rapid reaction

By Chris Ryan,

Leaving Timo Meier open on two rushes turned out to be a bad idea.

Meier scored both of his goals when he kept the puck for himself on pushes down the ice, and the Devils let a first-period lead go to waste as the San Jose Sharks cruised to a 5-2 victory on Monday at SAP Center in San Jose, California.

That 1-0 lead on a first-period Drew Stafford goal was flipped into a 2-1 deficit before the first intermission, and Keith Kinkaid ended up allowing five goals on 34 shots.

The Devils ended their three-game California swing at 1-1-1 and moved to 10-13-6 on the season.

Scoring plays

Stafford gave the Devils a lead with his first goal of the season 12:05 into the first period. He sent an innocent shot toward net from the right wall and it managed to sneak past Sharks goalie Martin Jones.

The Devils built a sizable shot advantage over the first half of the first period, but the Sharks managed to flip the ice and the scoreboard with two goals before intermission.

Meier tied the game with his first goal off a Sami Vatanen turnover at the offensive blue line. That led to a rush the other way, where Meier kept the puck and snapped a shot past Kinkaid at 15:51. Joe Pavelski then made it 2-1 when he popped in a rebound for his 20th goal of the season 2:12 later.

Radim Simek pushed the Sharks’ lead to 3-1 at 7:19 of the second period when his shot from the point weaved through traffic to beat Kinkaid for his first NHL goal.

Defenseman Andy Greene jammed in his first goal of the season to pull the Devils within 3-2 at 8:59, but Meier’s second goal off another rush at 14:52 served as a tough blow.

Tomas Hertl put the game away for the Sharks with a power-play goal at 14:23 of the third period.

Next up

The Devils return home for two of their next three games, though the schedule doesn’t get any easier. They will host the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights at 7 p.m. on Friday at Prudential Center in Newark before finishing a back-to-back on the road against the Nashville Predators.

They will return home again to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

6. Devils defeated by Sharks

By Amanda Stein,

SAN JOSE, CA – Two goals in quick succession by the San Jose Sharks in the first period put the New Jersey Devils playing catch-up on Monday night. Despite an early 1-0 lead on the Sharks, the Devils gave up two goals in a span of 2:12 that forced New Jersey to play from behind the rest of the game. Unable to capitalize on power play chances, the Devils closed out their three-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Here are 10 takeaways from the game:

1. As a fun note, both San Jose and New Jersey have players who go by the nickname ‘Pickles’. Of course, for New Jersey that honor goes to forward Blake Coleman – who has a habit of drinking pickle juice – while in San Jose, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic goes by the nickname ‘Pickles’ after his last name, which is of the famous pickle variety.

2. Drew Stafford was back in the lineup for just the seventh time this season. The Devils veteran took the place of Stefan Noesen on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and Brett Seney. Stafford has had a knack for playing against the Sharks in his career. Heading into Monday night’s game, Stafford had 14 points (3-11-14) in 17 career games against San Jose.

Stafford would add to those numbers Monday night. On his third shift of the game, Stafford lightly tossed a puck towards Sharks netminder Martin Jones from the right wall that squeezed through Jones’ skate and the goal post. The goal was Stafford’s first of the season, on which the Devils took a 1-0 lead at 12:05 of the first.

3. Damon Severson and Andy Greene were credited with the assists on Stafford’s opening goal. For Severson, the assist was his 14th of the season as well as his 18th point. In 76 games last season, Severson had 15 total assists and 24 points. The 24-year-old defenseman is on his way to surpassing his numbers from last season.

4. New Jersey held the San Jose Sharks to 11 shots on goal in the first period. It really was a tale of two halves for the Devils in the shots on goal department in the first period. New Jersey outshot the Sharks 7-1 through the first 10:35 of the first, while the latter half of the period, the Sharks outshot the Devils 10-2.

5. Greene had his first two-point night of the season, after he scored the Devils second goal of the night. Greene cleaned up a rebound in front of Jones, off a shot from Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri used his size and strength to fight off a Sharks defender and skate the puck low for a sharp angle shot. The rebound went directly to Greene in the low slot where he tapped it home for his first of the year at 8:59 of the second period.

6. Greene’s goal was also his first tally since January 18, 2018, and his first road goal since November 12, 2017. (Credit: Craig Seiden, NJD Radio Statistician)

7. Greene had quite an eventful night for himself to go along with his two points. Midway through the third period, Greene got in the way of a Brent Burns point shot – and those carry some major velocity! The puck struck Greene in the skate so forcefully that his skate blade dislodged from his skate and went flying across the ice surface.

Greene remained on the ice with the Sharks in the offensive zone, though he wasn’t able to move. The Devils captain waited until Kinkaid gloved the puck for a stoppage in play to have his skate fixed on the bench.

8. Palmieri and Nico Hischier assisted the Greene goal. For Palmieri, it was his fifth point (four goals, one assist) on this current three-game road trip, and for Hischier it was his sixth point in his past six games.

9. Keith Kinkaid was back in net, with Schneider playing the night before in Anaheim. Kinkaid’s 24th game played did not go as he would have hoped, giving up 5 goals on 34 shots. His season record drops to 10-8-5.

Making his first start at San Jose since November 21, 2016, Kinkaid record on the road against the Sharks is now 1-2-0.

10. The Devils completed their three-game California road trip with a record of 1-1-1, worth three points in the standings.





1. WATCH: NJ Devils’ Travis Zajac breaks down loss to Sharks

By Abbey Mastracco, The Record

2. 12/10/18 Postgame: Andy Greene

By New Jersey Devils,

3. 12/10/18 Postgame: Travis Zajac

By New Jersey Devils,

4. 12/10/18 Postgame: John Hynes

By New Jersey Devils,

5. 12/10/18 Pregame: John Hynes

By New Jersey Devils,

6. 12/10/18 Players to Watch

By New Jersey Devils,


By MSG Networks


By MSG Networks


By MSG Networks


By MSG Networks




1. Meier scores twice for Sharks in win against Devils

By Eric Gilmour,

SAN JOSE — Timo Meier scored two goals for the San Jose Sharks in a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at SAP Center on Monday.

Meier has seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games since returning to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury. The Sharks went 1-2-0 with him out of the lineup and are 3-1-0 since he returned.

“He’s a critical guy,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “He’s on pace for probably 40 goals right now. Critical piece for us. Gives us power and speed and energy and possession. You take that type of player out of anyone’s lineup and you’re going to feel the effects. It’s nice to have him back.”

Radim Simek scored his first NHL goal, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl each had a goal and an assist, and Martin Jones made 22 saves for San Jose (16-11-5), which has won four of its past five games.

Drew Stafford and Andy Greene each scored his first goal of the season, and Keith Kinkaid made 29 saves for New Jersey (10-13-6), which has allowed at least four goals in eight of its past nine games (1-4-4).

The Devils, who lost 6-5 in a shootout to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, completed their California road trip 1-1-1.

“It’s tough to win when you keep finding ways to beat yourselves,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “We just miss consistency in some areas of the game and that hurt us tonight. We keep finding ways to hurt our game. We can’t consistently string together any momentum.”

Stafford gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead at 12:05 of the first period on a wrist shot from along the right wall.

Meier tied it 1-1 at 15:51, scoring blocker side from the right circle on a rush.

“It’s always a shot that I like, coming down that wing,” Meier said. “It’s one of my strengths. It’s been working for me. It’s part of confidence, too. But it’s definitely something I try to work on, finishing some plays off, and it’s been working out.”

Pavelski gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 18:03 with his 20th goal of the season, getting the rebound off Brenden Dillon’s point shot at the left post. Pavelski has seven goals in his past eight games and 15 in his past 19.

“I think I said right from Day One here, I don’t think he’s dropped off at all,” DeBoer said of the 34-year-old Pavelski. “I think age is just a number for a guy like him. He works so hard. His game isn’t about speed, it’s about all the other things, and you don’t lose those things as you get older.”

The Devils had the game’s first seven shots but were outshot 11-2 the rest of the first period.

“We had a really good start for the first 10 minutes or so,” Greene said. “They got one and then they started to push us, and we didn’t push back and they got the second one. … We know [San Jose] is very good at home (10-3-2), they have quick starts. We came out pretty well. We had really good spurts and all of sudden things begin to happen and we wilt.”

Simek extended the lead to 3-1 at 7:19 of the second period on a slap shot from the point, but Greene cut it to 3-2 at 8:59.

Meier scored his second goal at 14:52 on a snap shot from the left circle that caught Kinkaid leaning the wrong way to make it 4-2.

Hertl scored a power-play goal at 14:23 of the third period to make it 5-2.

They said it

“We had the game totally in control and then we had the turnover at the offensive blue line. That gave them the first one and that gave a little bit of momentum. Puck management is something we keep talking about. The challenge with this group is getting them to understand the important parts of those situations. Early in the game we were breaking out and eventually they took over. It comes down to execution, moving the puck quicker, to accept the pass, and there are times in the game when we do a really good job of it and then there are times it’s like a grenade.” — Devils coach John Hynes

“I feel like we’re playing better. Tough stretch in that Dallas game aside (3-2 loss), I think we’re on a good streak right now.” — Sharks center Logan Couture

Need to know

Meier has 16 goals this season, five shy of his career high he set last year in 81 games. … Pavelski has scored at least 20 goals in a season 10 times, including in each of the past six. … Stafford was in the lineup after being scratched the previous three games and replaced Stefan Noesen on the fourth line. … New Jersey is 3-11-2 on the road. … Sharks forward Lukas Radil had his first NHL assist on Simek’s goal.

What’s next

Devils: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

Sharks: Host the Dallas Stars on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, NBCSCA, FS-SW, NHL.TV)

2. Five Questions with Ray Shero

By Mike Morreale,

A little adversity to begin the season isn’t going to force Ray Shero from deviating from the plan he laid out when named general manager of the New Jersey Devils on May 4, 2015.

The Devils made a 27-point improvement in the Eastern Conference last season and earned their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, but have struggled with consistency out of the gate this season (10-13-6) and are last in the conference with 26 points.

While the start may not be what the fan base expected, Shero remains confident that a little patience will go a long way.

“I’ve said all along, with the support of managing partners, Josh (Harris) and David (Blitzer), that you don’t build a team that’s rebuilding through free agent signings that would handcuff you in 3-to-4 years,” Shero said. “Doing something for the sake of getting a little bit better, or to just say you’re doing something, is patchwork and not a plan. There’s only one way to do this. The idea is to build something that once you do build it, you’re in a good position each year to have a chance to make the playoffs and at a certain point you’re considered a Cup contender.

“We talked about being a fast, attacking and supportive team and we knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but you have to come in with a mentality and a direction. You have to have something you believe in, a vision.”

In three-plus seasons on the job, Shero has taken a club that averaged 30.5 years in age in 2014-15 to 26.5 years this season. He acquired forwards Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Marcus Johansson and defensemen Sami Vatanen and Will Butcher for a total of five draft picks (none in the first round), defenseman Adam Larsson and forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi. Even with the movement of picks, the team still had 20 at their disposal. The once bare prospect pool has been replenished, they have salary cap flexibility and a new identity and culture is present under coach John Hynes.

Now in his fourth season as GM, Shero spoke on several key issues in a Q&A with on Monday.

Here are Five Questions with … Ray Shero:

What do you say to those emotionally invested fans who want to see improvement over last season?

“Last year gave both hope and optimism. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Our fan base finally saw the vision we talked about my first two years through drafting, developing, and making proper trades; you could see it start to come together. We established something where you could see more talent, more belief and a commitment to hold each other accountable, whether they were younger players or veterans.

“I know we have a ways to go, not just to get to Game 82 (this season), but over the course of the next two or three years. It’s all really the start (of our build) I envisioned when I came here. I said last November (2017), that I felt like this is turning. I know it, I’ve been through this before with Nashville and Ottawa (as assistant GM). With Josh and David, we have stayed true to our plan, no shortcuts. There will be speed bumps along the way, but this is the right way to do it.

“Rebuilds are not for the weak. (New York Islanders GM) Lou Lamoriello once said, ‘I have a five-year plan and it’s changing every day’ so you have to be prepared and have an idea what you want to do for the short- and long-term. We want to be a team that competes for a playoff spot every year and not just by chance or luck, and then from there become more of a contender.

“Our fans have shown their passion. We all felt the excitement last year, as we had a great run at the end of the season and witnessed how electric the building was when we clinched the playoffs at home. We built this the right way and our fans, other teams and the League noticed. We were selected to do the first-ever behind the scenes all-access training camp series, and obviously picked as one of the teams to go to Europe (for the NHL Global Series). That is on- and off-ice progress which we should be proud of.”

Your thoughts on Taylor Hall in his third season with the Devils, and how do you think he handled his recent benching by coach John Hynes?

“I once told Taylor that he can’t expect to be on his game all the time, but it’s how he helps the team win when he’s not on. I sent a text to coach Hynes after he benched Hall for the final seven minutes of the second period in our loss to Tampa Bay (on Dec. 3) and asked how Hall was doing.

“[Hynes] said he was fine. He said Hall apologized for putting him in a situation to sit him. He respected what [Hynes] did, and he still played him 16:17 and [Hall] said that was more than enough for him to get his game back. [Hall] appreciated the way we treated him and how we held him accountable and knows he has to be better and wants to be better. [Hynes and Hall] have a healthy respect for each other and Hynes was confident Hall would be OK. Hynes told me it was really a reset for him and Taylor’s response was great.

“That’s the kind of player and person Taylor is. He wants accountability for himself and those around him. What does he do after that conversation with John? He goes out the next day and is the best player in practice, he leads by example. These are the kind of things that prove how driven he is, how much he cares.”

Hall, who won the 2018 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, has one season remaining after this one on his seven-year contract he initially signed with the Edmonton Oilers. The earliest you could sign Hall to an extension is July 1, 2019. How soon will you begin talks on a new contract?

“Taylor and I had dinner at the end of the 2016-17 season, and it ended up turning into this enlightening four-hour conversation covering so many different topics. Taylor was determined after that season. I met with all the veterans at the end of the season and it was clear they all shared their disappointment.

“Based on what his response was, the conversation could have lasted just five minutes. But he said to me this was the right fit. I told him that his legacy is important to me and that I cared about it. When I asked him about Hynes, he told me he was the best coach he’s ever had. Once you hear those things, you know you have something together. Taylor came in and transformed this franchise.

“We will definitely talk after the season, and he is a priority, but an announcement, if any, won’t come until after (July 1), per league rules. Our feelings haven’t changed about Taylor. He’s an incredible addition to our team and franchise. Like I said before, he has come in, bought in and transformed this franchise. This is a faster, younger and more exciting team in part because of Taylor. We made a trade for a player that became the MVP which is only the second time NHL history that has happened (Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks). I think we have a lot of unfinished business and it’s been a great fit for both sides.”

Why does John Hynes remain the clear choice as coach moving forward?

“The three areas important to me in a coach are an ability to teach, inspire and discipline. There’s a fine line between being a friend and establishing a relationship and John has done that with his players. You’ve got to hold everyone accountable and can’t defer to veterans. In three seasons he’s shown great growth in how he’s dealt with our veterans and young players. John’s growth path has mirrored that of our team, and I like to see that. He’s taken hard-working teams and helped them accomplish more. He coaches to his players’ strengths and helps them find a gear or aspect to their game and brings it to the forefront. He’s coached an immensely talented player to become an MVP. Everyone had a great inside glimpse into John with the Behind the Glass all-access series as a communicator, motivator, and his direction as a coach. You have to be honest with yourself as a coach, and sometimes that’s not comfortable, but John has matured in that regard, too.”

Can you offer your assessment of goalies Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid?

“Cory has worked really hard and he’s physically fine. There are things we can help him with, but at the end of the day if Cory wants the net back he needs to be the best goalie in practice and that will help him become sharper when he gets into the game. He’s got to push Keith and continue to be supportive, too, just as he was for Keith during his run last year. He’s been great in that regard. Sometimes it comes down to the player and the player needs to make a difference.

“I tried to hire (goalie coach Roland Melanson) when I was in Pittsburgh (as GM) because I knew of his reputation. Rollie has worked hard with both Cory and Keith. He’s helped Keith develop and take the next step and continues to work with Cory, day-in and day-out.”

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