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Devils Takeaways: Hughes, Bratt Down Blue Jackets in 6-3 Devils Victory

A hat trick by Jack Hughes and three assists from Jesper Bratt see the Devils down the Blue Jackets 6-3 in Columbus.

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Devils Takeaways: Hughes, Bratt Down Blue Jackets in 6-3 Devils Victory
(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

The New Jersey Devils haven’t forgotten about their last matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In fact, they’ve been pretty vocal about wanting to go into Columbus and down the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Why? Well, it’s because the Blue Jackets defeated the Devils 2-1 back on Nov. 24th at the Prudential Center. The Devils were determined to come into tonight evening the score.

The extra motivation for the Devils is the dads and mentors who joined New Jersey on their trip to Ohio. And with all the motivation they needed, the Devils accomplished their mission.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 6-3 victory over the Blue Jackets.

Devils Quick Wrap

The Devils got off to a quick start as Jack Hughes opened the scoring just 47 seconds into the game. After dominating most of the first period, Erik Haula doubled New Jersey’s lead heading into the first intermission. The Jackets tried to replicate the Devils’ first period by scoring 17 seconds into the middle frame on the stick of Kirill Marchenko. However, the Devils took the momentum back when Tyler Toffoli helped New Jersey regain their two-goal lead just 33 seconds later. At about the midway mark of the second period, Yegor Chinakov cut New Jersey’s lead again. However, Hughes on the power play buried his second of the game. Following the second intermission, Nico Hischier recorded his seventh goal of the season, further padding the Devils’ lead. The Blue Jackets scored another late goal on the stick of Alexander Texier, however, Hughes hit the empty net to complete his second career hat-trick.

Akira Schmid made 24 saves to secure the Devils’ victory.

Takeaways

Devils Strike Quick

Coming into Saturday night, this matchup had trap game written all over it. The Toronto Maple Leafs just fell for it after going down 5-0 through the first 40 minutes of play. They mounted a comeback, but the Jackets secured the win in overtime.

The Devils couldn’t let that happen to them, too.

Thankfully, Jack came to play. The Devils dumped the puck deep into Columbus’ zone. The Jackets retrieved it, however, Johnny Gaudreau carelessly passed the puck through the slot for Tyler Toffoli to intercept.

Give Toffoli credit, however, it was an excellent defensive read to force the turnover. Even more impressive was how quickly Toffoli got the puck off his stick with accuracy, splitting four defenders, to find Jack wide open. As a result, Jack made no mistake to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead.

The Devils kept the pedal to the metal despite Columbus’ best efforts to claw their way back into the game. Schmid was forced to fight off a few chances by the Blue Jackets and did so well.

New Jersey regained the momentum and after Alexander Holtz gained the offensive zone with confidence, it ended in Haula doubling the Devils’ lead before the first period ended.

There’s no easy game in the NHL. But, there are certain games you just can’t hand over, especially to a clearly inferior club. It was an excellent start for the Devils, one that they’ll want to replicate for the remainder of the season.

Mental Lapses in Net… or at the Red Line(?!)

The Devils’ goaltending has actually been pretty strong of late. Both Schmid and Vitek Vanecek have turned in strong performances for New Jersey, the former more often than the latter. However, a couple of mental lapses on Schmid’s part Saturday night almost came with costly consequences.

With New Jersey leading 3-1 in the second period, an innocent dump into the offensive zone at the Devils’ blue line found its way past Schmid to bring the Jackets back within one goal. Yegor Chiniakov’s shot had eyes, seemingly hitting a Devils body or two on the way and past Schmid. However, it was certainly a stoppable puck had Schmid just been a little further up in his crease and square to the shot. Instead, an innocent puck found twine allowing Columbus to linger closer than they should have.

Later in the period, John Marino drew a penalty in Columbus’ end that sent Schmid toward the Devils’ bench for the extra man. While on his way, the puck made its way out of the zone in Schmid’s skating path. The Swiss goaltender touched the puck beyond the red line and was called for a penalty which negated New Jersey’s chance for a power play. Fortunately, the Devils gained an additional advantage after Zach Werenski held Michael McLeod. The Devils took advantage and once again, regained the two-goal lead.

It’s never a dull moment with New Jersey goaltenders. One more time, did I mention John Gibson is in town?

Dishin’ It

Have yourself a night, Brattman.

It’s truly the season of giving when Bratt is on the ice. The Swedish forward registered three points in the Devils’ 5-2 victory over the Jackets.

Whether it’s even strength or on the power play, it doesn’t matter. Bratt collected assists in both situations, assisting both of his linemates Jack Hughes (PPG) and Tyler Toffoli. He later assisted captain Nico Hischier, collecting the puck at Columbus’ blue line, skating the puck into danger, and feeding Hischier for a smooth one-timer. Bratt collected his third assist by taking advantage of  Columbus, sneaking through their defense following a line change. It was also an excellent play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.

Bratt’s three assists bring him to 198 assists in seven NHL seasons.

Quick Shifts

  • Jack Hughes’ two-goal night sees him reach 100 career goals. He’s the fastest to 100 goals in Devils history, completing the feat in 267 games.
  • Nico Hischier’s two-point night (1g,1a) elevates him to 300 career points.
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