The New Jersey Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 thanks to goals from Dougie Hamilton and Vitek Vanecek in their respective teams’ regular-season debuts on Thursday night.
The Devils continued where they left off the previous season, when they finished with 112 points, as Hamilton defeated Ville Husso with a bomb from the point at 15:37.
“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.”
For New Jersey, Jack Hughes scored twice in the second period, and Jonas Siegenthaler contributed 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.”
At 18:29, Erik Haula made it 4-2 with an empty-net goal, and at 19:26, Robby Fabbri of Detroit scored.
For the Red Wings, goals were also scored by Alex DeBrincat and Daniel Sprong. DeBrincat, a native of Michigan, was acquired in a trade with Ottawa in July.
At 12:14 into the second period, Sprong broke the scoreless deadlock. At 13:39, Hughes answered on a New Jersey power play. The 22-year-old center was able to whip the puck in from a challenging stance on the left wing, underneath the goal line.
At 18:43, Hughes sent the puck from the high slot past Husso to give the Devils the lead.
The boisterous crowd at Prudential Center chanted “MVP! MVP!” after Hughes’ second goal, who led the Devils with 43 goals and 99 points last season. In the vote for the Hart Trophy last season, the first overall pick in the 2019 draft came in seventh place.
9:45 into the third period, Hughes was given a slashing penalty, which allowed DeBrincat to tie the score at 10:43. In his lone season with Ottawa, DeBrincat recorded a career-high 39 assists in addition to 27 goals.
When Andrew Copp collected a feed from Sprong on a 2-on-1 break, Vanecek, a revelation for the Devils last season when he won 33 games, produced his best save at 8:13 of the second. Copp was denied at the doorstep.
The opening period was a competitive shootout, with Detroit outshooting the Devils 14-6. In the first period, each sides had two power-play opportunities.
The quick Devils defeated the rival Rangers in seven games in the first round of the playoffs last spring after making a 49-point improvement in 2022–23, but they were defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.
With 35 victories and 80 points overall, the Red Wings had their best year since 2015–16, when Detroit last made the playoffs.