NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Dougie Hamilton snapped a third-period tie, Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves and the New Jersey Devils beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Thursday night in the season opener for each team.
Hamilton beat Ville Husso with a blast from the point at 15:37, helping the Devils pick up where they left off last season when they finished with 112 points.
“I didn’t score in preseason and was thinking, you never know, it could take 10 games to score,'' Hamilton said. ”Luckily enough, I got one past the screen and a big goal for us."
Jack Hughes scored twice in the second period for New Jersey, and Jonas Siegenthaler had three assists.
“Definitely not our ‘A game’ but a win is a win and come January, it’ll just be two points so we want to get off on the right foot, especially with all the noise and it was good for our fans,'' Hughes said. ”For us to come out and win and that’s very important."
Erik Haula made it 4-2 with an empty-net goal at 18:29, and Detroit's Robby Fabbri scored at 19:26.
Alex DeBrincat and Daniel Sprong also scored for the Red Wings. DeBrincat, a Michigan native, was acquired in a July trade with Ottawa.
After Sprong broke a scoreless tie 12:14 into the second, Hughes responded on a New Jersey power play at 13:39. The 22-year-old center managed to whip the puck in from a difficult angle below the goal line on the left wing.
Hughes then snapped the puck past Husso from the high slot at 18:43 to give the Devils the lead.
Hughes, who led the Devils with 43 goals and 99 points last season, heard chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the raucous crowd at Prudential Center after his second goal. The top overall pick in the 2019 draft finished eighth in Hart Trophy voting last season.
"A little premature, but you can’t be too upset about that,'' Hughes said of the supportive opening-night chorus.
Hughes was penalized for slashing 9:45 into the third, leading to a tying goal by DeBrincat at 10:43. DeBrincat had 27 goals and a career-best 39 assists in his only season with Ottawa.
“I thought we turned the game in the second period,'' Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”That wasn't by any means a Picasso."
Vanecek, a revelation for the Devils last season when he won 33 games, made his best save at 8:13 of the second, denying Andrew Copp at the doorstep after Copp accepted a pass from Sprong on a 2-on-1 break.
The teams played a spirited first period with Detroit outshooting the Devils 14-6. Both teams had two power-play chances in the opening period.
“It was a great start. We could have scored three or four,'' said the 28-year-old Husso, who is in his second season with the Red Wings. ”We have to get games like this to turn into wins.”
After a 49-point improvement in 2022-23, the speedy Devils downed the rival Rangers in seven games in the first round of the playoffs last spring before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.
The Red Wings finished last season with 35 wins and 80 points, their most since 2015-16 when Detroit last made the playoffs.
“We’ll take the first and third but the second period just got away from us with turnovers,″ Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “Husso made some big saves. They are a fast team that gets chances. And they got chances."
Devils coach Lindy Ruff, who signed a multiyear contract extension on Wednesday, received one of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions at Prudential Center. The 63-year-old Ruff, who is fifth on the NHL career list with 835 coaching wins, led the Devils to their first postseason series win since 2012.
The Devils are 23-10-4-4 in season-opening games and are 14-3-2-3 when opening a season at home. ... New Jersey scratched defensemen Chris Tierney and Colin Miller and forward Nathan Bastian. ... Detroit scratched defenseman Olli Maatta and goaltender Alex Lyon.
Devils: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Red Wings: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
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