MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Find out three quick takes from the New Jersey Devils first and long overdue shootout win of the new NHL season. 

Kyle McKenna

NEWARK, NJ—It was a solid road game played by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night vs. the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place.

In fact, it wasn’t a bad effort, by any means, for the first contest of four in Western Canada this week. New Jersey shocked everyone by winning its first shootout contest on the year by a score of 2-1.

The reality is that the Devils need to win three out of the four games, and they’re also playing a diverse group of teams that are either well off in the standing to start the year or are just as hungry for wins as Jersey is.

Here are three takeaways from tonight’s shootout victory:

The right presence

While the Devils struggled in the dots, losing 66% of their face-offs, the team appeared composed and focused from puck drop until the final round of the shootout. New Jersey’s overall approach just seemed different, and in a positive sense.

Nico Hischier and company were all business tonight.

The team seemed more poised than they have all season, and the mistakes in the defensive zone weren’t as evident, either.

Speaking of Hischier, No. 13 found the back of the net for the second-straight game, while extending his point streak to four games (2g-3a-5PTS). Besides the stat lines from the franchise skater, it’s encouraging for Devils fans to see Hischier fearlessly attack the dirty areas on the ice and crash the opposition’s net to collect a hardnosed goal.

There are times when he portrays flashes of a familiar face and former Devil-favorite, Zach Parise; but perhaps that’s a story for another time.

Long story short, Hischier is capable of scoring in many fashions, but more importantly, he’s willing to work for it and sacrifice himself.

Playing at home; Return of the MacK

Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood was positionally sound and sharp all night. He appeared confident and right at home in Winnipeg.

His native land, Thunder Bay, Ontario, is considered “close” to Winnipeg – eight hours.

While the team overall this season has typically found themselves in a funk after allowing a goal – No. 29 and company re-wrote the game plan that found Jersey just three wins 12 games into the season.

It seemed that both goaltenders were almost challenging one another after each respective and big save, all night – almost as if two professional tennis players were going at it on the big stage. Winnipeg goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck, was nominated for the Vezina Trophy back in 2017-18 – for the record.

Advantage Blackwood: The 22-year-old turned away both Winnipeg shooters in the shootout and finished the night with 32 saves.

He was the difference-maker on the night …

Unlikely Heroes

If you were to hear that the Devils entered a shootout on Tuesday and that Nikita Gusev and Jesper Boqvist weren’t only New Jersey’s first two shooters, but both scored – it would seem like a fairytale ending at this point for a struggling squad and its fan base.

That’s exactly what happened.

Gusev and Boqvist not only scored but both beat Hellebuyck by shooting – not deking. Impressive to say the least for a team that’s been struggling in the shootout and against a caliber masked man such as Hellebuyck.

Neither saw a ton of ice-time during the game, but both skaters did record two shots on goal; yet, more importantly, head coach John Hynes wasted no time utilizing the talented shooters when it mattered most.

New Jersey looks to extend its winning streak to three games when the Devils visit the Calgary Flames on Thursday night (9:00 p.m. ET; MSG+2).

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Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.