OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)Even at 18, Jack Hughes has lived up to his billing as an impact player.
Hughes scored 54 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Sunday night.
”If I was going to pick a player, I was happy to see him (score),” said New Jersey interim head coach Alain Nasreddine. ”Tonight, he was the difference maker.”
Kyle Palmieri passed to Hughes near center ice. Hughes broke loose with the puck on his backhand. He switched to the forehand and flipped the puck over Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson for his sixth of the season.
”That’s one we needed,” Hughes said. ”We’re hungry for points right now. We want to climb the standings. We’re not happy where we are. That’s a big emphasis on this team right now.”
Nico Hischier and Nikita Gusev had power-play goals for the Devils (13-19-6) and Miles Wood also scored.
Thomas Chabot, who had left the bench for a few minutes after taking a shot off his right hand, scored on a long shot from the point at 15:02 of the third to send the game to overtime for Ottawa (16-18-5).
Chabot admitted the game ”wasn’t pretty.” Still, he was happy to see the Senators earn a point in the loss.
”We didn’t play our best, obviously, but looking back on it, it was kind of huge to bring it to overtime and get a point,” Chabot said. ”It’s our first game back from a break. We knew we would be a little rusty.”
Nick Paul and Artem Anisimov also scored second-period goals for the Senators.
Mackenzie Blackwood made 21 saves New Jersey. Anderson stopped 30 shots.
Ottawa head coach DJ Smith said his team needs to find a way to be more careful with the puck, but acknowledged they were sluggish mentally after not playing since Dec. 23.
”We found a way to get a point,” Smith said. ”We didn’t have the puck very much tonight. We weren’t very smart with it. We didn’t break out very well.”
Hischier opened the scoring for the Devils, tipping home a shot by Sami Vatanen from the point at 8:58 of the first period. It was his eighth goal of the season.
The Hischier goal came during a chippy 20 minutes, as both teams were in action after long layoffs for the Christmas break. A total of 32 penalty minutes were doled out in the first period.
Paul tied it up 1-1 midway through the second period with a wrist shot that squeaked by Blackwood’s blocker. Anthony Duclair and Cody Goloubef assisted on the goal. The assist gave Duclair his team-leading 31st point. It was Goloubef’s first.
Anisimov put the Senators ahead 2-1 at 13:28 of the second, tapping the puck out of mid-air off the post, and Blackwood knocked it into his own net with his skate. It was Anisimov’s seventh of the season.
With a two-man advantage, Gusev tied the game at 2-all, scoring through Anderson’s legs.
”You can’t spend the whole game in your zone. You have to break out more. You have to come back and talk more and work more on that,” Smith said. ”In saying that, we’re a young team. It’s a learning process, and we don’t give up.”
Wood put the Devils up 3-2 heading into the final period. He scored after a long pass from Wayne Simmonds sprung him on a partial break.
NOTES: Scott Sabourin made his return for Ottawa in the loss after suffering a broken nose and the first recorded concussion of his career on Nov. 2, but was a non-factor.
Devils: Host Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
Senators: At Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.
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