Neither New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff nor Seattle coach Dave Hakstol were happy with their teams’ first game back after the All-Star break.
The difference was, the Devils defeated visiting Vancouver 5-4 in overtime Monday while the Kraken suffered a 4-0 loss to the host New York Islanders on Tuesday.
The Devils and Kraken will meet for the second and final time this season on Thursday night in Newark, N.J. Seattle won 4-3 at home on Jan. 19 as Andre Burakovsky scored 1:10 into overtime.
The Devils are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games, but Monday’s victory didn’t come easy.
They squandered a three-goal lead before Jesper Bratt scored with the man advantage with 43 seconds remaining in overtime.
Jack Hughes and Ondrej Palat each scored twice and goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 26 saves in winning his 10th straight game.
“I just think we got lucky,” Ruff said. “I think the last 10 minutes of the third period that it was all Vancouver. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. They had two or three opportunities, they could have won the game. I feel like we got lucky.”
The Devils have worked overtime in six of their past seven games, winning five.
“We know we’re a really good hockey team now,” said Hughes, who also assisted on the winning goal. “We got a good squad so I mean, I don’t know if it’s adversity or anything like that. We just got to play the full 60 minutes and we’ve been doing it, but (Monday) was a little bit of an off night but we came out with the win.”
Hughes, however, was ruled out for Thursday’s game and is considered week-to-week due to an upper-body injury.
“He’s a young guy, that will help him,” Ruff said Thursday morning of the time off for Hughes. “I think it’s going to be on the shorter end of it.”
The Devils scored three times in a 50-second span midway through the second period to take a 4-1 lead before letting the Canucks back in the game.
“This wasn’t our A-game,” Bratt said. “Coming off the (All-Star) break, you could be a little rusty. At the same time, we showed great character coming back and found a way to get a win. Those two points, in the end, are going to be huge for us. For us to battle it out and find a way to win was huge.”
The Kraken fell out of a first-place tie in the Pacific Division with Tuesday’s loss in the opener of a five-game trip in Elmont, N.Y.
Martin Jones made 24 saves for the Kraken, who played for the first time since Jan. 28.
“Obviously you don’t want to use it as an excuse,” Seattle forward Jaden Schwartz said of the All-Star break. “A lot of teams are in (a) similar situation. … We know what our game looks like when we’re sharp.”
Burakovsky, the Kraken’s leading scorer, left the game after sustaining a lower-body injury on his first shift and didn’t return.
“It’s not ideal to lose a guy on his very first shift 20 seconds into the hockey game, but those things happen,” Hakstol said. “We’ve been able to adapt and overcome.
” … That’s not the reason for (Tuesday’s loss). It’s not ideal for sure to go down to 11 forwards and 59 minutes to go in the game, but that’s not the reason that we couldn’t get ourselves going.”
Defenseman Jaycob Megna made his Kraken debut after being acquired in a trade with San Jose on Sunday. Megna was a minus-2 in 18:15 of ice time, with his turnover leading to one of the Islanders’ goals.
–Field Level Media