Jack Hughes scored 54 seconds into overtime to lift the Devils past the Ottawa Senators
The Devils started fast, taking advantage of a team playing its first game after the holiday break, and rebounded after some adversity in the second period and again at the end of the game to defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime on Sunday.
Jack Hughes scored 54 seconds into overtime to score the deciding goal. On the breakaway, Hughes used his speed to create separation between himself and the defender.
"I wasn't really thinking of a move. I had to move up the ice really fast and that was my only play, chip it far side," said Hughes afrter the game, adding that it was an important victory for the morale of the locker room considering how strong the team's been playing as of late.
"It was exciting. That's a win we needed. We're trying to climb in the standings here," he continued. "We have more belief in our locker room. The team's playing better for sure. We're hungry for points right now."
The Devils return home where they face the Boston Bruins on New Year's Eve. The game can be seen on MSG and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 1:08 PM ET.
Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine was happy to see Hughes get that overtime breakway chance.
"If I was going to pick a player, I was pretty happy to see him go in on a breakaway. That was a goal scorer's goal."
Early in the game, Sami Vatanen picked up the puck at the blueline and skated down to the high slot where he wristed the puck on goal. It was deflected low blocker side past Senators netminder Craig Anderson by Nico Hischier to put the Devils up by one.
"He had some huge pickups at the blueline to hold the puck in. He's smart up there. If he sees a shooting lane, he brings it through and I know that in front of the net," said Hischier.
After one, shots on goal were 14-6 for the Devils.
Connor Carrick was called for delay of game after clearing the puck over the glass from his own zone, giving Ottawa a power play early in the second period but Devils were able to kill it off.
A minute after the penalty expired, Nick Paul got in alone and whipped a shot past Mackenzie Blackwood to tie the game up.
Five minutes after that, Artem Anisimov batted a rebound out of the air past Blackwood to put the Senators in front 2-1.
Ottawa took a penalty with 6:03 to go in the second and another 17 seconds later, giving the Devils a two-man advantage opportunity to pull back on even terms and they did just that.
Vatanen threaded the puck over to Nikita Gusev below the left circle and Gusev quickly ripped it past Anderson to tie the game up, with 1:02 still to go in the Namestnikov penalty.
"The last few games, even when we get down we bounce back. Tonight is another example. That's kudos to the players. They believe. You feel it on the bench. The results are coming," said Nasreddine.
Hughes agreed with his head coach.
"We could have let that slide pretty easily," Hughes remarked. "Two could have turned to three really fast. That was good resiliency out of us tonight."
Devils used the momentum of their remaining power play to eventually convert to regain the lead. With two minutes to go in the second, Wayne Simmonds lobbed a pass through the neutral zone that was picked up by Miles Wood. Wood used his speed to chase down the puck and create a breakaway situation. He slipped the puck five-hole on Anderson to put the Devils back in front.
"We never give up. They had a one goal lead and we came right back," Hischier stated.
Shots in the second period were 10-9 for the Senators; 23-16 for New Jersey overall in the game.
Devils opened the third flying out of the gate. They had a 10-0 lead in shots through the first seven minutes, not including Andy Greene's blast off the post at the 3:41 mark.
With 4:58 to go in the third, Thomas Chabot teed up a blast from the point that beat a screened Blackwood to knot the game up at 3-3 but it was the Devils who would score on the game's next shot, 54 seconds into overtime.
"It's great. It's always fun. You saw him skating and celebrating. He earned it," Hischier said of Hughes' first career overtime winner. "I'm really happy for him."