NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Rookie goalie Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 25 shots to earn his second straight shutout and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 on Monday.
Blackwood is 3-1 since joining the Devils on Dec. 18th. He blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Saturday, becoming the first rookie goalie in franchise history to post back-to-back shutouts
Brian Boyle, Miles Wood, Sami Vatanen and Pavel Zacha scored for the Devils. It was Zacha's second goal in as many games.
Anders Nilsson stopped 19 shots for Vancouver.
The Devils have won three straight for the first time since their first three games of the sesson.
The game featured two of the top five players taken in the 2017 draft.
New Jersey's Nico Hischier went first overall and has 26 points in his second season in the league. Hischier, who turns 20 on Friday, had 52 points a year ago.
Vancouver's Elias Pettersson was the fifth selection of the draft and has 39 points in his first NHL season.
Vatanen's power-play goal early in the third period made it 3-0 Devils.
Boyle gave the Devils a 1-0 lead when he scored off a rebound at 12:03 of the first period. He was followed by Wood's power-play goal later in the period for a 2-0 cushion.
NOTES: Devils F Taylor Hall missed his third game with a lower-body injury. He leads the team with 37 points. Hall was replaced at LW by Jesper Bratt on New Jersey's top line. ... Vancouver is on its second six-game road trip of the season after getting wins in Edmonton and Calgary. ... Vancouver F Brock Boeser skated in his 100th NHL game. ... New Jersey was without G Cory Schneider (lower body) and F Marcus Johansson (upper body). Devils G Mackenzie Blackwood was the NHL's third star of the week on Monday after going 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .975 save percentage in two games.
Canucks: At Ottawa on Wednesday
Devils: At Dallas on Wednesday
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The Stars' opponent for the outdoor affair is not yet known.
Dallas also hosted this year's draft. The Stars have yet to take part in an outdoor regular-season NHL game.
A preseason game originally scheduled for Sept. 23, 2011 between the Stars and the then-Phoenix Coyotes at Houston's Reliant Stadium was ultimately canceled due to the cost of putting ice in the facility.
Woods put golf back on the map in 2018 with a historic comeback season. He was ranked 668th, coming off his fourth back surgery, and many questioned whether a return to the sport was the right move for his legacy. And then came the Open Championship in July, when he captivated the sports world by taking the solo lead on Sunday. Woods ultimately fell short at Carnoustie but pressed on. He recaptured that magic at the PGA Championship, firing the lowest final round of his major career to finish alone in second and set the stage for a storybook ending. At the season finale Tour Championship, Woods never relinquished his first-round lead to win for the 80th time on the PGA Tour and climb to No. 13 in the world. Chaos ensued as Woods walked up the 18th fairway en route to his first title since 2013, surrounded by fans storming the grounds in hopes of catching a glimpse of history. After so many years defined by turmoil, 2018 was, by all accounts - including his own - one of the best seasons of Woods' legendary career. - Eric Patterson
4. Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals
Ovechkin finally got it done in 2018. His seventh Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy was an afterthought in the shadow of his heroic playoff performance, during which Ovi posted 27 points in 24 games en route to a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup win. The 33-year-old finally added the most glaring omission to his resume - which was already among the most polished in the history of the sport - and the raw emotion he displayed upon hoisting the Cup after 13 years of shortcomings will forever serve as one of the NHL's most iconic images. And if you think he'll rest on his laurels, take a peek at this season's goal leaders. You'll see a familiar face. - Sean O'Leary
3. Luka Modric, MF, Real Madrid
It took over a decade, but the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly finally ended when do-it-all Croatian midfielder Modric captured the 2018 Ballon d'Or. In doing so, the 33-year-old proved that, contrary to popular belief, players for whom goal-scoring isn't the primary attribute can indeed be celebrated. Voter fatigue was a factor, sure - more than ever before, 2018 saw the football world grow numb to the continued excellence of Messi and Ronaldo - but Modric was the deserved winner of the sport's grandest individual honor. He was central to Real Madrid's third consecutive Champions League triumph, and his combination of subtle brilliance, crafty playmaking, and tireless, almost superhuman effort carried Croatia all the way to the World Cup final. - Gianluca Nesci
2. Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Rachel Denhollander, and members of USA Women's Gymnastics
The past three years have been both the best and worst for gymnastics in the United States: transcendent flashes of triumph on the bars, beams, and mats underscored by the exorcism of the monsters who plagued the sport for decades.
This year saw Biles elevate her craft to new heights, as she dominated the field of world-class competitors to take gold in the vault, floor, all-around, and team events at the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Doha, Qatar. Even if she chose to walk away from the sport tomorrow at just 21 years old, she already has a legitimate claim to the title of greatest gymnast ever.
But, by no fault of Biles or the dozens of other American gymnasts who excelled in competition this year, those accomplishments will only ever be part of their story. This was also the year that former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced for the decades of crimes he committed against the athletes entrusted to his care.
For years, these young women were forced to relive their trauma as those responsible avoided accountability. But the persistence and bravery of Denhollander, Raisman, and so many others ultimately culminated in the trial and sentencing hearing, and brought Nassar and the institutions that enabled him to their reckoning.
The courage, strength, and perseverance of the American gymnasts, regardless of whether they competed in 2018, is why theScore chose to honor the individuals (Biles) and the whole as one entity. - Andrew Joe Potter
1. LeBron James, F, Los Angeles Lakers
Ruminate on the 2003 NBA Draft class for a moment. Dwyane Wade, coming off the bench for a mediocre Heat team, is in the midst of a farewell season. Carmelo Anthony has made more highlights in an empty gym than he has on an NBA court in 2018. Chris Bosh hasn't played in nearly three years. Luke Walton, the 32nd pick in that famed draft, is coaching the Lakers. And then there's James; now 34 years old, in season No. 16, with more than 55,000 NBA minutes (regular season and playoffs) logged, and still at the height of his powers, both in terms of on-court production and off-court impact.
If you want to know why James remains one of the most scrutinized athletes on the planet despite all of his accomplishments, it's because the man, himself, continues to raise the bar for what we thought possible of him - or any other athlete, for that matter.
James nearly went the entire calendar year without missing a game, shifted the NBA's balance of power with another monumental move in free agency, and cemented his perennial status as the best player alive for the umpteenth time by dragging an obviously flawed Cleveland Cavaliers team to the NBA Finals, marking his eighth straight trip to the league's championship round.
Most importantly, the foundation James laid from a humanitarian standpoint in 2018, with the I Promise School, ensured that even long after Father Time finally catches up to him, LeBron's legacy will endure.
For continuing to defy the odds and perfect his craft on the court, and refusing to "shut up and dribble" off of it, LeBron James is theScore's 2018 Sportsperson of the Year. - Joseph Casciaro
Every Monday, theScore will offer a weekly fantasy hockey column detailing a handful of moves you should make. Ownership percentages (as of Dec. 30) and position eligibility are courtesy of Yahoo.
Pick up Collin Delia
Team: Blackhawks Position: G Ownership: 12 percent
It's an awfully small sample size, but Collin Delia has been sharper than a butcher's knife in his three games manning the Chicago Blackhawks' crease. He's won all three contests, posting a 1.66 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage along the way.
The 24-year-old undrafted netminder was sensational in the AHL this season, posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage for a middling Rockford IceHogs squad. Corey Crawford is out indefinitely with a concussion so Delia should receive the bulk of the starts moving forward.
Try to buy low on Tyler Seguin
Team: Stars Position: C Ownership: 99 percent
It's safe to say there's a lot of negativity surrounding Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars these days, but it could play to your advantage in fantasy. Seguin's somewhat down year is under the microscope so his owner may be willing to sell him for pennies on the dollar - if you can make the right offer.
Seguin's shots per game are right around his career average in Dallas. His 3.95 individual high-danger scoring chances for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 would stand to be the third-best mark of his career. This suggests Seguin is bound for a massive second half.
MacKenzie Blackwood has started three of the New Jersey Devils' last five games and if he keeps up his strong play he could pull away with the team's No. 1 gig. In five appearances this season, he owns a 1.58 goals-against average, a .956 save percentage, and the first shutout of his NHL career. This follows a relatively successful 15-game AHL stint during which he registered a 2.69 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Keith Kinkaid has struggled after a strong start to the season, posting an .877 save percentage in his last 12 games.
New Jersey will need a miracle to make the playoffs this season so there's plenty of incentive to give Blackwood, a 2015 second-round pick, the lion's share of the starts for the remainder of the campaign.
Add Jakob Chychrun in banger leagues
Team: Coyotes Position: D Ownership: 12 percent
Jakob Chychrun missed the first 18 games of the campaign after undergoing offseason knee surgery. It's not unusual for a player to need time to get back up to game speed after a prolonged absence - just ask Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander.
Chychrun took some time to get settled but he's been dialed in offensively of late, picking up four points in his last six games. Even if the offense dries up a bit, the former first-round pick still provides ample secondary stats (shots, hits, blocks, PIMs) to remain effective in banger leagues.
Don't bother adding Garret Sparks
Team: Maple Leafs Position: G Ownership: 14 percent
Frederik Andersen is nursing a groin injury but Garret Sparks isn't worth picking up. The Maple Leafs don't play until Thursday and are only in action twice this week. If you're relying on Andersen for starts this week and he remains sidelined, look elsewhere for goaltending help. Sparks has looked incredibly shaky even in his strong performances this season; don't give in to the temptation of trusting the Leafs' high-powered offense to provide enough run support to make Sparks valuable.
"There's a lot more going on there than just to throw their top players under the bus," the Boston Bruins forward - and former Seguin teammate - told The Athletic's Joe McDonald on Sunday. He added that Lites "might've lost it a little bit too much there."
Lites tore into the Dallas duo on Friday, calling their recent play "fucking horseshit." Marchand implied Sunday that it was an unfair assessment.
"They are two of the top players in the league and have been for a long time," the Bruins winger said. "So when you're looking at a 30-game segment and they don't put up 50 points in 30 games and you're losing, I don't necessarily agree with that.
"They've been two of the top players in the league the last four or five years, and you haven’t heard a peep out of (Lites) in that time. It doesn't take long for those guys to go off (production-wise by) getting 30 points in 20 games, and (Lites) won't say a whole lot then. You can't expect guys to have their best year every single year. By no means are they having bad years. Compared to what they've done it might not be the same."
Seguin, who signed an eight-year, $78.8-million extension in September, has seen a slight dip in production from his typical pace but leads the team with 33 points in 39 games. He had 32 points in 38 contests at the time of Lites' remarks.
Benn, Dallas' captain, leads the club with 15 goals and has 30 points in 39 games. He's earning $13 million at a cap hit of $9.5 million in the second season of the eight-year extension he inked with the Stars in 2016.