On Big Day for Jack Hughes, Devils Fall to Sharks

Today, the Devils made a major announcement regarding Jack Hughes’ contract situation. I am currently working on a big post that contains all of the news that has to do with Jack as well his brother Luke, who will likely be playing in late December for Team USA.

That post should be finished and up following this recap post.

This game saw the San Jose Sharks come east to face the Devils at Prudential Center, finishing up the season series between the Devils and their Californian nemesis. They Sharks won 5-2.

The Devils got Jack Hughes about a week earlier than expected as he returned to the team for tonight’s game from his dislocated shoulder suffered against the Seattle Kraken back on October 19. He played left wing on the Devils’ top line for the night.

Colton White and Mason Geertsen were the healthy scratches for the Devils as they got Hughes back and Ty Smith played again on defense.

In goal, the Devils started Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood stopped 28 of the 30 shots the Sharks threw at him for a nightly save percentage of .867. The Sharks added an empty net goal, which increased their shot total to 31 for the game. He blocked San Jose’s lone shorthanded chance and four of their five power play shots. He turned aside 21 of San Jose’s 24 shots at even strength.

The Sharks went with James Reimer who made 32 saves on 34 Devils shots. He had a night’s save percentage of .941, was equal to the Devils’ lone power play shot and made 31 saves off of 33 shots at even strength.

On the power play, the Sharks went 1-for-3 while the Devils only had one opportunity and went 0-for-1.

San Jose had won 3-of-their-last-4 games coming into this game. They shutout 2-0 the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago to start this road trip on Sunday.

On a side note, the ESPN+ broadcast was really spotty for me tonight. Lagging and buffering a lot. I had to refresh my browser a few times – was watching on a relatively bigger screen on my laptop and not on my phone. Not a really smooth experience and I hope this gets cleaned up a little as we go on with ESPN+.

And that shutout streak for the Sharks would continue through two periods tonight.

San Jose, however, beat Blackwood enough to build up a big lead by then.

It began just 4:26 into the game. There was an offensive zone start for the Sharks – deep in the Devils zone. The Sharks won the draw and got it back to Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who moved it to Radim Simek at the other point. Simek shot and it was tipped past Blackwood by Noah Gregor to make it 1-0 San Jose.

The first period ended with Pavel Zacha being stopped late on a breakaway by Reimer. Reimer turned him aside and the Devils would not be on the board yet.

In the second period, the Sharks exploded for three more goals.

Just 4:14 into the new frame, Alexander Barabanov got the puck off of the wall and moved it to Gregor, who made a pass to Jacob Middleton at the far side. Middleton shot above Blackwood’s blocker and in. The goal was called a good goal on the ice to make the score 2-0.

Devils coach Lindy Ruff decided after a quick review on the bench that he was going to use his coach’s challenge to see if the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl was offside about twenty seconds prior to the goal. Reviews clearly showed that Hertl had tagged up at the blue line sufficiently and the Sharks were onside on the play. The goal stood and it was 2-0 San Jose.

The Devils received a delay of game minor for getting the coach’s challenge wrong. They would kill that off, but not the next San Jose power play.

At the 10:17 mark of the second period, Jesper Bratt took a hooking penalty against Erik Karlsson setting up the man advantage for the Sharks.

On that power play, Logan Couture dug the puck out of the near corner with the Devils’ penalty kill overloaded to that side. Couture’s pass hit Timo Meier, alone on the far side, on the tape. Meier clanged it off of the post and in behind a Mackenzie Blackwood who was anticipating a near side shot. That one made it 3-0 Sharks.

Now things were getting out of hand for the Devils.

Before the second was over, Erik Karlsson would increase the Sharks lead to 4-0.

At the 11:30 mark of the middle frame, Barabanov found a seam across to a pinching Karlsson at the far post. Karlsson had a wide-open side of the goal cage to shoot at and did not miss, making it 4-0. Rudolfs Balcers had the secondary assist on the goal.

The Devils were now in a four-goal hole going into the third period.

But this season so far, you put the Devils behind the eight-ball in the third and you have a very dangerous team.

Sure enough, it began at the 9:12 mark of the third. Tomas Tatar, who scored late in the loss at Nashville last week, broke the Sharks’ shutout streak.

A Nico Hischier shot was saved by Reimer. The rebound went to Zacha, who popped it up and Tatar batted the rebound in to make it 4-1 Sharks.

The Devils would cut the lead in half a few minutes later. At the 12:45 mark of the third, Andreas Johnsson grabbed a turnover at the Devils blue line as a Sharks player bobbled it. He made a nice pass to Bratt in stride. Bratt broke into the Sharks’ zone, fighting through two Sharks defenders, and wristed the puck past Reimer to make it 4-2.

The Devils had made a game out of this and Ruff would take advantage of it, pulling Blackwood with about 3:40 or so remaining in regulation for the extra attacker.

The Sharks, however, would ice things when Meier got his second of the game into an empty net.

It came when Ty Smith had the puck deep in the Devils zone. He tried to reverse the puck back to Hischier, but when he dropped it, Hischier was just a bit off of receiving it. Meier grabbed the errant pass and threw it towards goal from a sharp angle. It went in unassisted to give us our final score of 5-2 Sharks.

The Devils ended up outshooting the Sharks 34-31. The Devils won just 41-percent of the game’s faceoffs. Dawson Mercer led the Devils centers with just a 54-percent personal winning percentage. Hischier was second with a 53-percent winning clip for reference.

The Devils took a few too many penalties, accumulating six total penalty minutes as a team while San Jose only had two – the one penalty, a Brent Burns hooking minor with 6:43 gone by in the first. Of course, one of those was the bench minor for getting the coach’s challenge wrong, so that is not as bad as it looks.

The Sharks outhit the Devils 23-21. The Devils had five more blocks at 20 to the Sharks’ 15. The Devils also turned over the puck 11 times while the Sharks did so just five.

In terms of ice time, Dougie Hamilton led the Devils’ skaters with 21:59 total (including 1:11 on their lone power play chance). Damon Severson had the most PK time amongst the defensemen at 3:58.

For the forwards, Hischier led with 17:53 total (including 53 seconds on the power play and 2:24 killing penalties). Jack Hughes finished with 17:31 total which included 53 seconds on the PP.

Hamilton again led the team in shots on goal, this time with seven. Michael McLeod led the team in hits with five. Blocked shots were led by Ryan Graves who had six. Severson and Graves had the dubious distinction of leading the Devils in giveaways at two apiece. Hischier led in takeaways with two.

The Devils will next play at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Puck drop is 8 PM for that game, which will be broadcast on MSG+2. This game will finish up the season series with the Wild and the Devils will look to bounce back in St. Paul.

Look for the Hughes news post coming up after this is posted and please be with us on Thursday for a recap of the Devils at Minnesota.

Until then, have a great week everyone!

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