The Devils earned at least one point in each of their first two games this season. Could they extend the streak?
The New Jersey Devils are coming off an impressive season-opening two-game set against one of the best teams in the league, the Boston Bruins.
Their youngsters, in particular, have looked very good and the players seem to have bought into new head coach Lindy Ruff‘s system, at least so far. How did they do in the first game of the “Hudson River Rivalry”?
1st period: Off to a flying start
The Devils couldn’t have started much better. Only 32 seconds into the game, P.K. Subban caught the Rangers on a line change and was smart enough to make a brilliant pass down the ice to the speedy Miles Wood.
Wood’s shot was saved by New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, but Travis Zajac was able to get the rebound and put it in the net. Another 32 seconds later, the Devils got a chance on the power play, but came up empty.
The Devils did have some scoring chances afterwards, but their elite defensive play throughout the period is what stood out most.
At times, the Rangers were able to dominate play in New Jersey’s zone, but the Devils were able to get back and pack the ice in front of their goaltender beautifully, not letting the puck get through.
The Devils didn’t look too great to end the period, but were able to prevent the Rangers from getting on the board.
2nd period: He’s (Hughes’) hereeeeee
The Devils did concede a goal on the penalty kill, but the game wouldn’t be tied for long.
Yegor Sharangovich did a great job winning a faceoff and getting the puck to Ty Smith, whose great shot was finished by Jack Hughes.
Subban was sent off for holding just over six minutes in and the Devils were lucky that Chris Kreider was unable to capitalize on two terrific scoring chances.
Hughes had a great period. He made a strong defensive play on a Jacob Trouba shot attempt and was able to score a breakaway goal.
The Devils biggest problem had been their sloppiness and undisciplined play. They allowed the Rangers to get on the power play again, leading to their second goal.
The Devils scored a fifth goal, but it was overturned when the Rangers challenged Jersey was offsides. The period ended on a scary note for the Devils, who were able to maintain their two-goal lead thanks to a huge save by MacKenzie Blackwood.
This was, by far, the best period of the young season for Hughes.
3rd period: A wall made of Blackwood
The third period was the Blackwood Show. The Devils’ netminder made an intelligent stop early on to prevent the Rangers from getting off to a hot start.
Unfortunately, the undisciplined Devils continued giving the Rangers chances. They were penalized for having too many men on the ice, but a good kill prevented the Rangers from scoring.
New York was able to score a third goal at even strength and then got yet another power play when Smith was sent off for holding.
The Rangers would have yet another chance to score on the power play, but Blackwood and the team in front of him were a brick wall.
The Devils were able to hold on and emerge victorious in a big game. They have yet to lose in regulation this season.
Key Moment: Starting off hot
They key moment of the game for the Devils was their first goal. The Rangers got off to a slow, rough start and the Devils (Subban specifically) wisely took advantage.
The Rangers controlled the action – thanks in large part to undisciplined play by the Devils – for a good part of the game, so it was important that the Devils got one past them early on.
Player of the Game: Jack Hughes
For the second straight game, Hughes is the Devils’ player of the game. This was definitely a close one; Blackwood was spectacular, making 47 saves on 50 shots.
However, Hughes gets the advantage for his excellent playmaking and being involved in three of the four goals the Devils scored.
With two goals and an assist, it looks like Hughes won the first round of the Hughes vs. Kaapo Kakko (they were the first two picks of the 2019 draft) battle of the year.