The New Jersey Devils invested a lot in Jack Hughes when they made him the top overall pick of the 2019 NHL draft this past June. Every time he takes the ice this season, the hope is he continues to improve.
On Sunday, Hughes took another important step when he scored his first game-winning goal in overtime to propel the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Kyle Palmieri sent a floating pass down the middle of the ice that allowed Hughes to turn on the jets and create a breakaway for himself. The 18-year-old forward wisely kept the puck in front of him and to the right in order to prevent Jean-Gabriel Pageau from disrupting the play. Hughes then made a subtle move to his forehand and flipped the puck over the glove of Craig Anderson before celebrating with teammates.
Hughes was not the only positive from the victory as Nikita Gusev scored for the second time in as many games and Sami Vatanen boosted his trade value by recording three assists. Mackenzie Blackwood made 20 saves to help New Jersey extend its point streak to three games.
— NJ Devils on MSG (@DevilsMSGN) December 30, 2019
Hughes recorded his first game-winning goal in regulation earlier this season when the Devils defeated Quinn Hughes and the Vancouver Canucks in the middle of October. Hughes also recorded the secondary assist on Gusev’s goal, giving him his first multi-point game since November 7th and third NHL game with two or more points.
The Devils were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season but find themselves near the bottom of the NHL standings through 35 games. While bigger things were anticipated in New Jersey this season, the best thing that could happen for the franchise is Hughes continues his development and forms a dynamic duo with Nico Hischier for years to come.
His first overtime goal is another step in the right direction.