Jon Merrill won’t forget his first.
The Devils rookie, playing in his 31st career contest, scored his first-ever NHL goal in overtime on Friday as the Devils beat the Oilers 2-1 at Prudential.
Merrill, the former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, took a Michael Ryder pass in the extra frame and rifled home a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov to snap New Jersey’s two-game losing streak:
Merrill, 22, had his freshman campaign derailed early as he suffered a concussion in his NHL debut back in November. The big-bodied defenseman missed six games and had to spend some time with AHL Albany before returning to New Jersey but has been good over the last while, earning the confidence of head coach Peter DeBoer and getting the minutes that come along with it.
Merrill played 20:49 against Edmonton on Friday, earning first-star honors.
For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.
The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.
They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.
It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.
Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)
Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.
This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.
Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.
His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.
As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.
The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.
This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.
Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.
Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: