Duchene's goal, assist lead Predators to 6-4 win over Devils
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Duchene scored a third-period goal and assisted on another to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Cody Glass, Cole Smith, Mikael Granlund, Filip Forsberg and Tanner Jeannot also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight and five of six heading into the All-Star break. Juuse Saros stopped 36 shots and Juuso Parssinen added two assists.
“I felt like we were the better team from start to finish,” Duchene said. “The start of the second, they came out and we weren’t quite at our best. But the last three games, we’ve beaten teams. We haven’t hung on or we didn’t have to rely on our goaltenders to steal us one.”
Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who lost in regulation for just the second time in January and fell to 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
“The first period wasn’t the way we wanted to play, but I thought the second period we were starting to hit our stride until we turned another puck over in our zone,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “And that has been an area of our strength — tonight it was a weakness.”
Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer also scored for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves and Dougie Hamilton had three assists.
“He gave us a chance to still win that game even though we gave so many chances up,” Devils captain Nico Hischier said of Blackwood. “He plays unbelievable for us.”
Hughes extended his point streak to seven games, picking up an assist on Bratt’s first-period goal and then scoring one of his own early in the second. Hughes has five goals and eight assists during his streak.
Blackwood was active in the first, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced — the most the Devils have allowed in a period this season. Likewise for Nashville, the shot total was its season high for a period.
“We played with the emotion and the passion you have to play with to give you a good chance to win,” Predators coach John Hynes said.
Hamilton and Hughes each have multiple points in three straight games. Hughes leads the Devils with 21 multipoint games this season, and Hamilton is second on the team with 14.
Nashville swept the two-game season series and has won six straight against New Jersey. Hynes, who coached the Devils prior to being hired in Nashville, is 5-0-0 against his former team.
POWER PLAY STRIKES
Nashville’s power play has struggled all season and especially of late, scoring just twice in 28 opportunities over the past 10 games. The Predators began the day 29th in the NHL with a 16.2% success rate but went 1 for 2 with the man advantage, with Glass scoring at 12:24 of the first period by poking a rebound past Blackwood.
It took Smith 49 games to score his first NHL goal, but the Nashville forward now has goals in two of his last three games. Both came off deflections in front.
Predators: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 7.
Devils: Visit the Dallas Stars on Friday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Jim Diamond, The Associated Press