NEWARK, N.J. — In one respect, the New Jersey Devils should be glad that 2021 will be in the rearview mirror in a matter of hours. Thanks to the play of Jack Hughes, however, the last two games of the year are something the Devils hope to build on to start the new year right and the restart to their season on the path toward redemption.
Hughes’ overtime goal at 2:55 of the extra session gave the Devils a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the Prudential Center on Friday afternoon. New Jersey held four separate one-goal leads in the contest, but needed Yegor Sharangovich’s tip with 31.5 seconds remaining to force overtime.
The overtime goal was the second of Hughes’ season, the first coming on opening night at home against Chicago. In between those two goals, the Devils have seen the talismanic Hughes miss a month due to a shoulder injury, experienced a plummet down the Metropolitan Division standings after a respectable start (they came into Wednesday’s game in Buffalo losing 10 of their last 11 contests) and had their season interrupted, like many other teams, because of COVID issues.
Probably the best part of 2021 for New Jersey is the way it ended, as they now own a winning streak for the first time since November 11.
The Devils announced about an hour before gametime that head coach Lindy Ruff had tested positive for COVID-19 and entered the health and safety protocol. Alain Nasreddine, as he has done previously during his time in New Jersey, moved down the bench one spot and coached the team in Ruff’s absence.
Edmonton fought back from a one-goal deficit at least once in each of the three regulation periods, with Connor McDavid scoring at 2:48 of the first to erase Hughes’ goal 98 seconds in, and scoring on a breakaway at 7:57 of the second to square the contest at 3-3.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST photographer Chris Simon. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 10 pictures in total.