(Michael Cammalleri in warmups on Tuesday – @NJDevils)
The New Jersey Devils returned home from a four-game road trip on Tuesday night and got some great news ahead of the game, as forward Michael Cammalleri was activated off injured reserve.
Cammalleri is the Devils’ leading scorer, with 14 goals and 22 assists. The Devils were 3-5, including a split on their four-game road trip, in his absence, which was marked by trouble getting the offense going.
On returning for the Calgary game on Tuesday night, Cammalleri said, “We’ve got a couple of games at home here and then a couple games on the road. We’re kind of looking at it as a four-game set before we go to break. So, two points in regulation is the way you want to start.”
Cammalleri talked about the final four of the month before the All-Star break, as they beat the Flames on Tuesday, host Ottawa on Thursday, and travel to Winnipeg on Saturday and Pittsburgh on Tuesday the 26th.
Devils Head Coach John Hynes said of the lift the team gets from having Cammalleri back in the lineup, “It’s a big lift in the sense that, it’s not just what he brings on the ice, there’s a locker room element to the team that he brings a big part of, just his leadership and his moxie and understanding of the game and certain things, so that’s a big part of it and, obviously, you see with him on the ice, where it’s difficult at times to manufacture points. Mike’s a proven guy in this league to be able to be a strong point producer, and it was a good first game back for him.”
Devils forward Lee Stempniak said of having Cammalleri back, “It’s no secret we’ve struggled to score goals at times, and to add a guy with his talent and nose for the net was a huge boost to our team.”
The Devils got on the board just 5:12 into the game, as Reid Boucher set up Adam Larsson on a give-and-go to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, Calgary tied it on a power play goal from Sean Monahan.
The Devils came out firing in the second period, as Cammalleri and Adam Henrique set up Stempniak for a point-blank shot to make it 2-1.
Cammaelleri said of the chemistry on the line with Stempniak and Henrique, “We did some good things for the most part. It felt good, I will have to look at the game again to see how much we really created, but it was a fun, energetic feeling among us creating stuff.”
Just 17 seconds later, the Devils crashed the net, and it was Boucher getting a goal of his own to make it 3-1.
Boucher, who got his second goal in just five games since being called up from Albany, said of scoring, “I don’t think I’m just a one trick pony with a good shot. I’m not the best playmaker, but I’m able to do it at times.”
Hynes said of seeing Boucher give them what they were waiting for, “We are. Reid’s game has been more consistent. It’s nice to see him get the points, which is what we want. We needed some guys to be able to come up (from Albany). In this part of the maturation process of Reid and our team and organization, it’s real important to have guys to be able to come up from Albany who are prospects and be impact players. Reid’s been able to do that in two ways. He’s been a very strong competitor, which was the big thing we wanted to see from him. Now, because of that, you get to see him be able to produce some points. Even when you look at his goal tonight, it was a real-front scrum and he pushed it in. He scored a high-skill goal the other day. He made a high-skill play on the first goal, but he scored a gritty goal on the game-winner. It looks like it’s going in the right direction for him and our team.”
Calgary got one back on a Kris Russell goal with 4:05 left in the second, and the only goal in the third came on a Devils empty net by Andy Greene with 1:01 left in the third to make it 4-2.
Devils goalie Cory Schneider made 26 saves to get his 20th win on the season.
Schneider said of the win, “First period ended up being good, I think they had a good start, but we came out even. I thought our second was great, aside from the penalties, obviously the penalty kill wasn’t its best tonight, but I thought 5-on-5, we played really well in the second, and that’s an area we wanted to beat them at because they’re pretty good 5-on-5. Those two quick goals, I thought, gave us some momentum. Third period, they came hard, they have skill, they were kind of the comeback team from last year, so they’re not unfamiliar with that situation, you could tell they were pressing, they almost had a couple, but again, we did what it took to get the win.”
Schneider said of Cammalleri’s return, “He’s an important guy in our room, he’s an important guy on the ice. You saw right away on that second goal, collects the puck, patience, makes a great pass, that’s a skill that we need in this lineup. It’s been hard without him, but we’ve made due and, hopefully, we can continue moving upward with him back in there.”
On getting a win at home after a long road trip, Schneider said, “I think that was critical. We’re kind of looking at this four-game stretch here before the break, and breaking that down and kind of making this an important stretch of the season going into the break, and our first goal is to get back to .500 at home (10-10-3 at home as of Tuesday’s win), to get as many points as we can out of these four games. So, good start, but again, as we’ve we have to string a few together here, hopefully take care of home ice again on Thursday, put ourselves in good position going on the road.”