Recap: Devils at Wild 11.2.23

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jesper Bratt had a goal and three assists, and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-3 at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

Bratt has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) during an eight-game point streak.

Timo Meier and Dougie Hamilton scored, and Jack Hughes had two assists for the Devils (6-2-1), who have won three straight and five of six. Vitek Vanecek made 22 saves.

Hughes has 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in nine games, becoming the first player in Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts franchise history with at least 19 points before his 10th game in a season, eclipsing Colorado’s Paul Gardner (18 in 1977-78).

“Those two guys (Bratt and Hughes) have just been dynamic,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think when you have one of them on one line and the other guy on the other line, it’s a really good 1-2 punch. They’re feeding a lot off the power play, but I think 5-on-5, both guys have been able to create a lot of great opportunities.”

NJD@MIN: Bratt fires home one-timer power-play goal

Matt Boldy had two assists in his first game back from an upper-body injury, and Marco Rossi had a goal and an assist for the Wild (3-5-2), who were swept in the home-and-home series against the Devils and lost their fourth straight game. Filip Gustavsson made 33 saves.

Boldy missed the past seven games after sustaining the injury Oct. 14.

“Well, we start at 7 o’clock, not 7:30, 7:35,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “So, wonderful that we played hard at some point tonight. But it’s not good enough."

Alexander Holtz gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period, scoring from the slot on an assist from Nathan Bastian.

Michael McLeod made it 2-0 at 15:23, entering the zone along the wall and passing to Bratt, who found Ondrej Palat in the slot. Palat no-looked the puck across to McLeod for the backdoor tap-in.

“We needed a guy to fill in for Nico [Hischier],” Ruff said. “(McLeod’s) stepped in and done a great job for us.”

Meier extended the lead to 3-0 at 2:31 of the second period on the power play, extending his point streak to six games. Tyler Toffoli made a seam pass to Hughes in the slot, who passed to Meier on the opposite side of the crease for the deflection.

Meier has eight points (two goals, six assists) during his point streak.

“We’ve been talking about that all season long -- to really come out and have a good start we need momentum, get some pucks in there early," Bratt said. I think right from the start we’re getting the pucks down low, and that’s where we can use our skill. Obviously, the start’s going to set us up for the rest of the game.”

NJD@MIN: Holtz wires in a wrister from the slot

Kirill Kaprizov cut it to 3-1 at 9:03 on the power play with a snap shot from outside the left circle past a screened Vanecek.

Evason came back in the third period with line changes made toward the end of the second, centering Rossi between Boldy and Kaprizov.

“You just try to shake it up to give them a wake-up call,” Evason said. “We’ve tried so many different things to wake them up before the puck’s dropped, and we’ve got to do a better job as a staff.”

Rossi made it 3-2 at 1:10 of the third with a rebound in front off a Boldy attempt.

“Last couple of games wasn't easy to start, that’s one thing we have to clean up -- our start,” Rossi said. “We need that first goal and if we don’t have the first goal, we can’t panic. We have to keep going, trust our game, trust our identity.

“The worst thing is when we start to panic, there was no reason for that. We have to keep going. We don't have to change anything at the end of the game, we played really good at the end of the game, it’s how we should start the game.

Bratt made it 4-2 at 15:36 on a a slap shot through traffic from the left dot on the power play, but Jake Middleton cut it to 4-3 at 16:27 with a wrist shot from just inside the blue line.

“We switched up the lines in the second period, that gave us a little bit of a jolt, just to come with more energy,” Kaprizov said. “So, play right off the rip with that kind of energy and that kind of jam.

Hamilton scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 19:22 for the 5-3 final.

The Devils went 3-for-5 on the power play and are 17-for-38 with the man-advantage this season.

NOTES: Hughes became the third player in the past 25 years with 20 points before his 10th game of a season, following Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (20 in 2021-22) and former Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux (20 in 2002-03). … Bratt joined Hughes as the second New Jersey player with 15 or more points this season. It marked the second time the Devils/Rockies/Scouts franchise has had two players with 15 points prior to their 10th game, following 1986-87 (Pat Verbeek, Kirk Muller).