NEWARK, NJ — Vitek Vanecek 24 saves in his first shutout for the New Jersey Devils, a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche Friday at the Prudential Center.
Vanecek, who was acquired in a July 8 trade with the Washington Capitals for a second- and third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft, earned his seventh NHL shutout and first since a 2-0 win at the Arizona Coyotes on April 22nd.
“To be honest, it was a really good game and the lads played really well,” said Vanecek. “The guys just worked hard, blocked shots and did everything for me.”
Jack Hughes scored a power play goal after 2:59 of the third period for the Devils (5-3-0), who have won their last two games and four of five.
“We’re more comfortable in closer games, we’re smarter with the puck,” said New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff. “Last year I spoke too often about our puck management giving the other team opportunities to win the game.
“We’ve had a lot of games where we’d win by a goal and a penalty might have resulted in an opportunity for the opponent to end the game, maybe win it in extra time or in a penalty shootout, but I think we’re finding it us in another place.”
Video: [email protected]: Hughes scores on power play in 3rd period
Hughes used a screen provided by Nathan Bastian for his first power play goal of the season, a snap from the left faceoff circle after a cross ice pass Jesper Brat.
“I knew the puck went through me, but I didn’t know it went through the keeper, so turning around and seeing Jack celebrate is an exciting feeling,” said Bastian.
Paul french made 22 saves for the Avalanche (4-3-1), who will play with the New York Islanders on Saturday.
“They have great team speed and skill so you have to give them credit; their penalty shootout is really good,” said Colorado coach Jared Bednar. “We had too many turnovers. We didn’t do enough to win the hockey game. We just didn’t have the jam tonight.”
Video: [email protected]: Vanecek saves Rodrigues
The Avalanche went into the game with the most power play goals (10) and best power play percentage (50) in the NHL, but went 6-0 on eight shots against the Devils. Colorado forward Valery Nikhushkinwho scored five power-play goals this season did not play because of a lower body injury.
Vanecek’s best save came at 9:57 of the third when he used his right pad to refuse Evan Rodrigues on a runaway.
“Those are the things that lift the whole bank,” Ruff said. “This is the salvation we are looking for. It was a bad jump that came through John [Marino], and you need a storage. He looked so comfortable making the save and I actually felt comfortable after he made it.”
The 26-year-old keeper made 10 saves in the third in his second straight start.
“We didn’t have enough bounce and we were trying to break through the neutral zone and they were passing,” said Rodrigues. “We didn’t get enough odd-man rushes. We have to keep it simple and keep bringing in pucks.”
Video: Vitek Vanecek made 24 saves against the Colorado Avalanche
Vanecek denied JT Compher on a snapshot from the slot at 9:27 of the first period.
“Let’s enjoy the next hour, but then we have to get ready for our next game (against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday),” Ruff said. “We felt this was the right team to play at the right time where our game was. It would test us and make us uncomfortable. But we have to be comfortable when we’re uncomfortable, and I felt that for the most part we passed that test.”
REMARKS: Vanecek is the second goalie in Devils history to knock out the Avalanche (Martin Brodeur, four times). … Bratt extended his season-opener points streak to eight games (three goals, 10 assists); The only player in Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts history with an extended scoring streak early in the season is Tim Higgins in 1984-85 (five goals, five assists in 10 games). … avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored seven shots on goal but went without a point for the second time this season in 25:29 Ice Time. … Forward Martin Kaut, who replaced Nichushkin in the second row, had a shot in 7:17. … The Devils went 34-to-48 (71 percent) in faceoffs; Nico Hischier went 16-for-17 and Eric Hala went 8-for-11. … New Jersey had disallowed the first goal at 2:45 p.m. when this was determined after a video challenge miles of wood ahead of the puck into the offensive zone and was flagged for offside.
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