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Devils rookies Butcher, Hischier, Bratt impress in NHL debut

Defenseman has three assists, forwards also contribute in win against Avalanche

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Will Butcher and forwards Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt each had an impressive NHL debut for the New Jersey Devils in a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Prudential Center on Saturday.

Butcher became the first player in franchise history (Devils, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts) to score three points in his NHL debut, Bratt had a goal and an assist, and Hischier showcased the tenacity and hockey IQ that helped make him the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Video: COL@NJD: Moore goes top shelf for shorthanded goal

Hischier, who played 15:44, had six shots on goal, two hits and was 4-for-9 on face-offs. He also came to the defense of forward Kyle Palmieri, who sustained a lower-body injury on a hit by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.

"I just thought after [Palmieri] went to his knees, I was going to step up for him and I tried my best; [Palmieri] said thanks," Hischier said. "It's all about the team and I thought that was the right choice."

Devils coach John Hynes appreciated Hischier's effort.

"It's never about Nico; it's about his teammates and he plays for his team," Hynes said. "To have an 18-year-old player in his first game not hesitate is a big part of who he is and what our team is."

Butcher, named the game's First Star, played 12:45 on 19 shifts, got all his points on the power play. The Devils finished 3-for-4 on the man-advantage. He played the right point alongside John Moore for most of the game.

Butcher agreed to a two-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on Aug. 27 after not signing with the Avalanche, who selected him in the fifth round (No. 123) of the 2013 NHL Draft. He credited his teammates for his memorable start.

"When you have guys like Palmieri and (forward Taylor) Hall on each side, it's about giving them time and space to make good things happen," Butcher said. "It gives me a little bit of freedom up top to try to freeze and move pucks easier. [Palmieri and Hall] have so much speed and creativity, that I just have to put it in the right spot and good things will happen."

Video: COL@NJD: Bratt nets first goal, parents tear up

Bratt, selected by the Devils in the sixth round (No. 162) of the 2016 NHL Draft, scored a power-play goal with 28 seconds remaining in the second period and assisted on a shorthanded goal by Moore with six minutes remaining in the third. He played 16:19 at left wing with center Adam Henrique and Jimmy Hayes.

"The speed was faster and the players were more skilled and stronger," Bratt said of his first regular-season NHL game. "I guess it was a little different than the preseason, but I just tried to stick with playing my game and not do anything special; I just wanted to keep it going."

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