Hughes scores hat trick, leads Devils over Blue Jackets
“This was a rematch to get back on track and playing good hockey against this team,” Bratt said. “The last couple of games we’ve been playing very solid, especially on the road, and we wanted to bring that today.”
Akira Schmid stopped 23 shots for the Devils, who won their second in a row and for the eighth time in 10 games to jump over Washington for fifth place in the Metropolitan Division.
New Jersey took charge early, with Hughes scoring 47 seconds into the game after Toffoli intercepted Johnny Gaudreau's outlet pass. The goal was the fastest of Hughes’ NHL career, beating his previous record of 54 seconds set March 1, 2022, against Columbus.
“We talked a lot about getting off to better starts in the first period, to try to get the early goal,” said Devils coach Lindy Ruff, who won his 850th NHL game, good for fourth all-time. “For Jack to set the tone was important.”
The Devils outshot Columbus 7-2 in the first period and Haula made it 2-0 at 16:21 from the left circle.
“We chased it all night,” Blue Jackets coach Pascale Vincent said. “It’s an offensive team. Good in transition. Their line of center is one of the best in the league. They’re a good defensive team and with their offensive ability to make plays and their skating ability, it makes it hard to play against.”
The teams traded goals with two apiece in the second period. Marchenko took just 17 seconds to cut the lead in half with a power-play goal. Gaudreau earned his 700th NHL point with the assist. Toffoli again made it a two-goal Devils lead 33 seconds later with his team-leading 13th goal of the season, a wrister from the high slot.
Chinakhov pulled Columbus back within a goal at 8:38 of the second for his fifth goal in the last four games before Hughes made it 4-2 with his 100th career goal, four seconds into a 4-on-3 power-play.
Hischier extended the Devil’s lead with his score at 2:50 of the third period before Texier’s empty-net goal with 1:03 remaining made it 5-3. Hughes’ empty-netter at 19:12 completed the hat trick.
“We’re rolling four lines,” Hischier said. “That’s when we’re at our best, if we all play the same way.”
Devils: Host Anaheim Sunday.
Blue Jackets: Visit Buffalo Tuesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl