Newark, N.J. — An exciting opening night of the season for the Red Wings, but disappointing in the end.
Dougie Hamilton’s goal late in the third period and an empty net goal from Erik Haula led the Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings.
Robby Fabbri’s power-play goal with 33.7 seconds left cut the lead to 4-3 and gave the Wings one final chance. But the Devils were able to hold on and excite a raucous crowd at Prudential Center.
“It was a good hockey game, an emotional game,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “That’s a good team over there. We had a great start, thought we played a good game. We play like that consistently we’ll be in a good spot.”
There are two areas the Wings will look at after this loss and feel the game got away from them.
First, the penalties. The Wings’ six penalties led to the Devils spending a lot of time on the power play, and though the Wings did a good job killing off five of the six penalties, damage was done.
“The penalties we took, it was way too many penalties,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “They were slashes, hooks, penalties you can manage to control. We definitely have to clean that up.
“You put a team like that on the power play, and they scored on it, and they get mometum off it and it drains your top guys. You go on the road against anyone and take six penalties, you have no chance, let alone one of the best teams in the league.”
Then, there were the chances. Especially in the first period, as the Devils were trying to compose themselves after a energetic introduction, the Wings outshot New Jersey 14-6 and had several glorious chances against Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek.
BOX SCORE: Devils 4, Red Wings 3
Daniel Sprong and Klim Kostin had shots ring off posts.
“This one will sting,” Lalonde said. “We probably outchanced them and accumulated a lot of chances. For the most part, those underlying numbers on the road will say we should have had a point but we didn’t.”
Larkin saw the same thing as far as not converting scoring chances in the first period.
“We scored three but our finishing wasn’t there,” Larkin said. “I’m not worried about that. We have a lot of goal scorers in here and we keep getting looks like that, we’ll score a lot.”
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Sprong, Alex DeBrincat (power play) and Robby Fabbri (power play) scored Wings goals, while goaltender Ville Husso stopped 23 of 27 shots.
Jack Hughes had two second-period goals (one a power play), and Dougie Hamilton and Erik Haula (empty net) had Devils goals, while Vanecek stopped 32-of-35 shots.
Hughes, a strong contender for the Hart Trophy (most valuable player) if the Devils have the type of season most people expect, was electrifying in the second period.
His first goal was from near the goal line, banking a shot off, seemingly, Husso’s back.
“Bad read by me there,” Husso said. “Going paddle down, and for sure I’d like that one back. He’s a good player, but I just have to be ready for that for sure.”
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On his second goal, Hughes cut through the slot and snapped a shot past Husso.
The goals helped New Jersey get the lead and punctuated a period they regained control, after the Wings’ dominance the first 20 minutes.
“It was a great start, the guys came in hard and we could have had two or three goals in the first period,” Husso said. “They got the momentum back a little bit in the second period. It was a tight game. The big thing for us is get these games to turn into wins. We’re still learning.”
Lalonde felt the Wings gave New Jersey that second period spark.
“You can’t fuel that team and that’s exactly what happened,” Lalonde said. “The second period got away from us. Obviously some turnovers fueled them so that certainly hurt, then the penalties we took.”