NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — The competing, cacophonous noise produced by fans split between red and blue inside the Prudential Center made for the perfect backdrop to the latest Hudson River hockey rivalry, one that felt more like a trip to the Stanley Cup Final was at stake instead of sole possession of second place in their respective division at the halfway point of the season. Amidst that noise during the third period, New Jersey Devils wunderkind Jack Hughes fired the loudest salvo, a slapshot which tied the game and sent the red-clad portion of the arena into raptures.
Mere seconds after the puck bulged the back of the net, Hughes then sent a message, tugging at his jersey to pop the Devils logo out, sending the loud and clear message that, at least for this afternoon, the tri-state area rivalry that may very well spill over into a postseason series in three months’ time belonged to the squad west of the Hudson.
Hughes’ two-goal game helped the Devils come back from two separate two-goal deficits, and Damon Severson’s overtime game-winner completed a come-from-behind 4-3 victory for New Jersey over the New York Rangers in a Saturday matinee game befitting of a thrilling Broadway musical. The Devils’ victory keeps New Jersey in second place in the Metropolitan Division, now two points ahead of the Blueshirts as both teams sit squarely in playoff positioning before what should be a thrilling second half in the tightly-packed Metropolitan Division.