Mackenzie Blackwood is starting to play his best hockey of the season and so are the New Jersey Devils.
Blackwood stopped a penalty shot and made 37 saves in posting his second straight shutout and the Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 Saturday night at Prudential Center in Newark to extend their points streak to a season-high six games.
“This team has been working hard, that’s the one thing I’ll say about us the whole year, we haven’t quit, we haven’t stopped working,” Blackwood said. “We’ve been working through it all. Some of the things we’ve done there are mistakes that we’ve made on our own, but I think we’re working towards being a little more consistent and playing the right way and I think it’s starting to come together for us.”
The Devils have languished in the bottom of the Eastern Conference all season. Their 3-0-3 run since returning from the All Star break tops their previous point streak of five (4-0-1).
“Obviously everyone’s bought in,” said Blake Coleman, who scored along with Nikita Gusev and Kyle Palmieri. “Everyone’s having fun and special teams got going here a little bit and it’s a good feeling right now.”
Calvin Petersen, who was recalled from Ontario of the AHL following the trade of backup goaltender Jack Campbell to Toronto, made 31 saves in his season debut for the Kings.
“A little too much vanilla from a lot of guys and obviously the lack of offense comes back to bite us,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We are desperately searching for some help offensively. There have a been a lot of players who have played a lot of games for us and they haven’t hit the score sheet or even the chance sheet.”
Blackwood, who made 46 saves in a 5-0 win over the Flyers on Thursday, stopped 13 shots in the scoreless first period. He was a little lucky as Michael Amadio clanged one off the goalpost. The 23-year-old rookie goalie stopped Anze Kopitar on the penalty shot after the Kings’ captain was hooked breaking in alone on a power play with New Jersey ahead 3-0 in the second period.
Kopitar said he was trying to beat Blackwood above his pad and the goaltender gloved.
This marks the second time Blackwood, who has 17 of the Devils’ 20 wins this season, has had consecutive shutouts. He blanked Carolina and Vancouver in consecutive games in December 2018.
The Devils broke things up earlier in the second period, beating Petersen three times in a little more than five minutes.
Gusev got the first one with a one-timer from the left circle after taking a cross-ice pass from defenseman Damon Severson at 5:38.
Coleman got his 21st goal from between the circles on a power play less than two minutes later. Palmieri scored his 20th when a shot from the point pinballed off Jack Hughes and then him into the net.
“Sometimes you are on the right side of bounces and sometimes you are not,” Peterse said. “I think the third one bounced around in there. It was kind of disappointing, considering the momentum they had. I think it was a deflating goal. That’s part of hockey you live with.”
Center Nico Hischier (knee) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (foot) each missed his third straight game.