MONTREAL what. 🇧🇷 The Devils extended their winning streak to ten straight after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. The winning streak is not only the longest current streak in the NHL, but also the longest this season.
“The first half was a bit tough, but after that we woke up,” said Vanecek after the game. “Ten in a row, that’s really big and I hope we keep going.”
“(It’s a) team effort, we didn’t start great but in the second and third halves we all came out together as a group and got those two points, which is huge for us,” he said Jonas Siegenthaler after the game.
After a slower start in the first period, the Devils quickly took the upper hand in the second period Jack Hughes Scoring only 3:57 in the middle frames. Hughes’ goal was on the Devils’ power play as New Jersey has had a power-play goal in their last five straight games. Less than three minutes later Dougie Hamilton scored to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Montreal’s Evgenii Dadonov scored midway through the half to halve the Devils’ lead, but Hughes struck his second goal of the game five minutes later to put the Devils 3-1 up.
In the third, Tomas Tatar scored a goal but it was ruled offside. However, Jesper Brat would increase the Devils’ lead in the last ten minutes of regulation to give the Devils a 4-1 lead in the final minutes of the game. To sweeten the victory John Marino scored an empty goal in the last minute to give the Devils a 5-1 win.
“Similar to previous games, we really came back in the second and third and showed character. We didn’t really get to our standard in the first period and we gave them a lot of offense and we fueled their offense with experienced players in the neutral zone,” Bratt said. “I think in the second and third we got the puck deeper and went to work and really grinned them down a bit I think and we also went in a bit more and got some goals from that.”
Here are some additional observations from tonight…
-Jack Hughes scored twice in the second period in his first multi-goal game of the season. The forward extended his scoring streak to three games and started a scoring streak as he scored in the last two games. The first tonight was a goal from the power play to get the opener and it was Hughes’ second man advantage goal of the season. His second gave the forward his first two-goal game since March 27, also against the Canadiens.
“He really stayed with it the whole game,” Bratt said of Hughes’ performance. “He played really well with the puck and he created a lot, especially on the power play there, he was ready to shoot, he was a huge threat to all of us in the game and it really shows what kind of player he is when he gets the chance to make a difference.”
“He found the hole, a great shot on the power play, and then in the second half, when I found that spot just above the pad on the other side, I thought that part of his game was excellent,” Ruff said of Hughes.
– Dougie Hamilton’s assist and goal in the second period extended his points streak to five games, which is his longest since joining NJD. He has three goals and four assists in those five competitions.
-In his first game since November 10th Vitek Vanecek pick up right where he left off. The keeper’s tremendous saves, particularly in the first half, prevented the Canadians from scoring on several Grade A chances. Vanecek finished the game with 25 saves from 26 shots.
“I felt good, I feel good, that was good,” Vanecek said of his return to the line-up after missing the last game. “I’m just trying to be myself in every single game … to gain experience in every game and I still hope I can get better.”
“He played a really good game for us. I thought he looked very relaxed, really sharp. He made four or five big, quality saves in that first period,” Ruff said. “He was the guy who certainly kept us close in the early days and he looked comfortable.”
“He’s really improved, like he’s been doing for us all season,” Bratt said of Vanecek. “I think if it wasn’t for him, that first period would have been very different.”
– The Devils are second in the league at 37 shots per game, and New Jersey continued to create chances, ending the game on 39. On the other hand, the Devils are the best in the league at limiting their opponents’ chances. Though the Canadiens had 26, the Devils held their opponents to just five mid-frame shots after allowing 15 in the first period.
-Montreal’s top line from Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach is a fast line that knows how to score. All three are in the top three for points. The Devils knew closing that line would be a key to victory, and New Jersey did just that.
“We knew they only want to attack because of our mistakes, so we just tried to limit our mistakes and have good gaps against them, give them nothing, be close to them, not even give them a chance and I think we were pretty good tonight,” said Siegenthaler.
“I thought the awareness in the second and third periods was that they were on the ice trying to stay above them, not giving them a rush, they’re a rush team and have good speed going up ice and we just thought if we could get over them, make it really difficult for them, we could at least limit their options,” Ruff said of his team finishing Montreal’s top line.
When asked about the identity that formed this team particularly during that winning streak, Ruff spoke about how the team came together for each win.
“It’s all about the team,” Ruff said after the game. “We have different moments, it’s every line that contributes, it’s every defensive pair, it’s our goalkeeper making big saves. When you run that well it’s all about team play and everyone taking part in the wins and we’ve done a really good job with that.”
The Devils will travel on to Toronto for the second game of this road trip through eastern Canada as they look to make it 11 straight.