The night started with so much promise.
After looking as if they were going to cruise to a blowout win over the Winnipeg Jets, the New Jersey Devils ended up squandering a four-goal second period lead to lose a completely bonkers 5-4 shootout decision to kick off the Jack Hughes era.
It was a wildly entertaining game for 65 minutes and a shootout, but it is definitely not the result the Devils wanted after such an amazing start.
Three things to takeaway from this one.
1. It was a mostly quiet night for Hughes. Look, he’s 18 years old and playing in his first real NHL game. He is not going to immediately jump in there and dominate. Some growing pains have to be expected at times. He ended up playing just a little more than 15 minutes and recorded one shot on goal. He had an opportunity to win the game in overtime but had the puck roll off his stick on an odd-man rush. Probably the most noteworthy shift he had during regulation was when his line got stuck on the ice for more than three minutes in the third period, resulting in Neal Pionk‘s game-tying goal for Winnipeg. Of the Devils’ big offseason additions, Nikita Gusev made the biggest impact scoring his first NHL goal and adding a tally in the shootout.
2. Cory Schneider had to exit the game. The big question for the Devils this season is clearly going to be their goaltending situation. It is the biggest weakness on paper and the one thing that might hold them back after such an amazing offseason. They received a bit of a scare on Friday when Schneider had to leave the game early in the third period. Not exactly a great sign after he struggled so much with his play and his health a year ago. Backup Mackenzie Blackwood replaced him and gave up the final two goals in regulation and then two more goals in the shootout. The encouraging news for the Devils, though, is that Taylor Hall said after the game that Schneider was not injured and had to leave the game because he was cramping up. Coach Jon Hynes, meanwhile, had no update only to say Schneider was being checked by the team’s medical staff. Either way, this is a position that is going to be a big question this year until proven otherwise.
3. The Jets have flaws, but they can still be dangerous. There are a lot of legit reasons to be concerned about this Jets team and what they are capable of this season. Through two games those concerns have been on display, specifically their inability to stop anyone thanks to a defense that has been absolutely gutted over the past few months. After giving up six goals to the New York Rangers on Thursday, they came back on Friday and gave up four early goals to the Devils (including an insane highlight reel goal by Blake Coleman) and several more quality chances on top of that. But, they are still loaded at forward and are never really going to be out of any game. The Devils found that out on Friday.