Player of the Night
Jack Hughes, Devils
New Jersey built up a 3-1 lead thanks to Dougie Hamilton‘s goal 17 seconds into the game and Hughes’ first of the season in the second period. But the Blackhawks scored twice in a 3:27 span late in the third to force overtime. It was there the young Devils star put on a brilliant solo display to win the game and then gifted a fan at Prudential Center a game-used stick.
Hughes’ first goal from Friday was pretty nifty, too.
Highlights from Friday in the NHL
The first of Carter Hart‘s rough goals felt a bit like “the nature of the beast.” The second cringe-worthy goal Carter Hart allowed, though? Pretty brutal. Elias Pettersson (again) put Hart in a bad spot, and J.T. Miller took care of the rest:
Marcus Foligno dropped the gloves with Max Jones in the first period and had the last laugh with a game-winning goal with 7.2 seconds left to help the Wild edge the Ducks:
Before that game, Trevor Zegras was just showing off:
The mitts on @tzegras11 are 🤯🤯#FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/92drGKBS81
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 16, 2021
The Blackhawks and Devils honored the late Jimmy Hayes Friday night:
Forever our teammate. pic.twitter.com/2wRY4A0dHn
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 15, 2021
For Hayesy ☘️❤️ https://t.co/poMyQtytlz pic.twitter.com/3uwCMpHBNv
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 15, 2021
Two Takeaways from NHL on Friday
So far, so very good for Devils and Dougie
As you can see above, Hamilton celebrated his big contract with the Devils by scoring right away. Then Jack Hughes did the rest to secure a debut win to kick off the Dougie days.
By the simplest terms, that’s a great debut.
But when you dig deeper … Dougie Hamilton shines even more.
• Via Natural Stat Trick, the Devils dominated shot volume with Hamilton on the ice. Whether you count blocked shots (21 Corsi For, 7 against at even-strength), or not (17-6 Fenwick For), Hamilton tilted the ice in New Jersey’s favor.
• Hamilton’s Devils debut was strong in more than just “empty calories” ways. At 5-on-5, the Devils generated a 14-5 scoring chance advantage. As far as high-danger chances go? That’s a 7-3 mark. Just lights-out stuff.
• The simple stats are there, too. Hamilton earned a +3 rating, with the Devils generating three goals with him on the ice at 5-on-5, and not allowing one.
Vigneault sticks with Carter Hart after those tough goals
After four goals — including two especially painful ones — people were making jokes at Carter Hart’s expense. Or, they were making jokes about the Flyers’ backup plan of, uh, Martin Jones.
Of course, it’s far, far, far too early to assume Hart won’t rebound from his disappointing 2020-21 season. Plenty of people would’ve spared Hart the exposure of playing through the third period.
Instead, Alain Vigneault took the risk of added damage to Hart’s psyche. The young goalie bounced back with 15 saves in the third period, helping Philly gain a “charity point.”
Now, the Canucks still beat the Flyers. And Hart did allow Vancouver to score on both shootout chances. They’re not out of the woods by any means …
The hard truth is that if Carter Hart doesn't bounce back, it really doesn't matter what changes the Flyers made this summer. And this second period brought back in one fell swoop all of the concerns that he might not.
No reason to bury him yet. But yeah.
— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) October 16, 2021
… But, hey, Vigneault stood by his goalie. It might just work out.
(Maybe Vigneault doesn’t have much of a choice, anyway?)
Saturday’s big story
Plenty of NHL season-openers
The 2021-22 NHL season’s been in action since Tuesday, yet quite a few teams open things up on Saturday. Here they are:
• Bruins host Stars at 7 p.m. ET.
• The Blues 2021-22 season begins the way their last one ended. They’re facing the mighty Avalanche at 9 p.m. ET after Colorado swept the Blues during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
• The Sharks kick off their 2021-22 season by hosting the Jets at 10 p.m. ET.
• Finally, the Flames begin their season against the hated Oilers at 10 p.m. ET.
We’ll get to see a retooled St. Louis lineup, and see how a mostly-intact Flames team handles what should be a high-pressure season. Should be a fun, busy Saturday in the NHL.
Friday’s NHL scores
Devils 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)
Canucks 5, Flyers 4 (SO)
Wild 2, Ducks 1
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.