Hischier, Devils
Photo Credit: Claudio J De La Rosa

3 Takeaways from Devils' Gutsy Win Over Avalanche

Devils hockey is finally back after the All-Star Break! The New Jersey Devils were back in action Tuesday night as they took on the Colorado Avalanche. They were in desperate need of a win coming out of the break.

It didn't seem like that was going to happen after the Devils blew a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period as the Avalanche scored two goals 29 seconds apart. But, Jersey's team was able to prevail as they notched a late goal from defenseman John Marino with 2:17 remaining. The Devils added an empty net goal from Erik Haula and took down a good Avalanche team by a score of 5-3.

This was a much-needed win for the team that reps black and red.

 

Vitek Vanecek Stood On His Head

It is no secret that the Devils have not received quality goaltending this season. The team sure hopes that will change after Tuesday night's game after a terrific performance by Vitek Vanecek.

Vanecek faced off a whopping 38 shots in this game. He made 35/38 saves and finished with a +0.24 Goals Saved Above Expected according to MoneyPuck.

Vanecek made countless key saves when the team needed him the most. The Avalanche could've easily finished that game with six or more goals. Luckily enough, Vanecek shut the door on the high-powered offense the Avalanche have.

One huge save that stood out by Vanecek occurred with 2:48 remaining in the game as the two teams were tied. The Avalanche had all the momentum after netting two goals in that period to tie the game. The Avalanche were on a surge in that period, which had Devils' fans holding their breath. Avalanche Forward Nathan MacKinnon who currently leads the NHL in points this season got free on a breakaway. Mackinnon was coming in quickly and tried to go backhand for the goal and Vanecek denied him.

Every Devils' fan got out of their seat to give Vanecek a standing ovation after that massive save. A save of that magnitude in a tied game late in the 3rd period against arguably one of the best players in the NHL was significant. This save by Vanecek swung the momentum in the Devils favor as Marino scored the game-winning goal 31 seconds later.

Vanecek made the big saves when it mattered most, and that is what the Devils need from him going forward this season.

 

Captain Nico Led By Example

When Nico Hischier was named captain of the New Jersey Devils back in 2021, he was expected to lead by example through his terrific two-way play, his offensive ability, his important presence in the locker room, his leadership, and his ability to take accountability.

Hischier was aggravated after their previous game on January 27th where they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I'm embarrassed a bit, to be honest," Hischier said on January 27th.

The captain needed to lead by example in Tuesday night's game and he did just that. Hischier played arguably the best game he has played all season. He was flying out there on that top line along with Jesper Bratt and Ondrej Palat. Hischier generated a lot of offense, he was strong on the puck defensively, and he skated hard all game long.

Hischier finished the game with 2 assists, and they were two big assists. His first assist occurred on a 2-on-1 man advantage with Jesper Bratt where Hischier made an amazing pass that Bratt buried past Avalanche goalie Justus Annunen.

Hischier later on made the game-winning pass on the John Marino goal where Hischier made a slick pass to the slot which Marino netted past Annunen to take the lead late in the 3rd period.

Hischier's defensive play also stood out in this game as he was shadowing Nathan MacKinnon for the majority of the game. MacKinnon was on a 14-game point streak heading into this game and Hischier was able to shut him down for the majority of the game. MacKinnon was held to 0 points in Tuesday night's affair. This is just the 8th game this season where MacKinnon was held without a point, so much credit to Hischier and the Devils. Head coach Lindy Ruff praised Hischier after the game.

"I think Nico did one heck of a job. There was a lot of battles, a lot of 1on1 battles where Nico did a terrific job on the walls with him, keeping him there and not letting him come off the walls," Ruff said.

The Devils need more games like this from their captain.

 

The Same Issues Keep Occurring

It was a hard-earned win by the Devils over the Avalanche, but there were still a couple of continuous problems that occurred in this game. One of those big issues is that the Devils have a hard time scoring the first goal in a game this season.

The Devils once again were not able to score the first goal in Tuesday night's game. The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead with just 1:23 into the game thanks to a Mikko Rantanen goal. This is the 35th time this season that the Devils have been down 1-0 in a game. The Devils have scored the first goal in a game 27% of the time. It is a glaring issue with this Devils team that needs to come to an end. Fortunately enough, the Devils were able to come back in this game and get their 17th Comeback win this season.

Another issue that was seen in this game was the Devils giving up multiple goals in a short amount of time. The Devils crumbled in the third period as the Avalanche netted two goals in 31 seconds apart. This has happened on many occasions this season where the Devils have the lead in the game or it is a close game, and they completely fall apart. This is the 14th time this season that the Devils have given up multiple goals in two minutes or less.

Both of these issues are something that needs to be addressed and fixed. The Devils can't keep on having these problems down the stretch this season.

Despite these issues, the Devils were able to prevail and get a massive win coming out of the All-Star Break. Is this the game that will turn the season around? The Devils sure hope so.

The Devils are back in action Thursday night to take on the Calgary Flames. There's a chance Jack Hughes will make his return to the lineup which would be a big boost for the team going forward this season.