NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Jack Hughes scored on power play early in the third period and Vitek Vanecek made 24 saves for his first shutout with New Jersey in the Devils' 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
The Devils won for the fifth time in six games after dropping the first two games of the season. New Jersey also denied defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado’s NHL-best power play.
Hughes scored his third of the season on the power play at 2:59 of the third, shooting the puck past Pavel Francouz. Assists went to Jesper Bratt and Dougie Hamilton. The assist was a team-leading 10th for Brattm who has points in all eight Devils games this season and leads New Jersey with 13 points.Francouz made 22 saves.
The Devils appeared to open the scoring with just over five minutes left in the first period but an apparent goal by Miles Wood was nullified when the play was deemed offsides on review.
New Jersey outshot the visitors 8-4 in the opening period. In the second, the Avalanche had a 10-7 shots advantage over the home team as both goaltenders made sterling saves to keep the scoreless game intact.
The Avalanche were coming off 3-2 shootout win over Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday in which former Rangers netminder Alexandar Geogiev was the winner in his return.
Vanecek earned his second win for New Jersey. He denied Dryden Hunt in the second on a point-blank shot from between the faceoff circles.
The 26-year-old netminder, had six shutouts with the Washington Capitals prior to this season, also made a dazzling pad save on Colorado’s Evan Rodrigues midway through the third and foiled a one-timer by Arturi Lehkonen with just over eight minutes left. He made 10 saves overall in the third.
New Jersey beat Detroit 6-2 on the road in their previous outing Tuesday night.
Avalanche leading scorer Valeri Nichushkin did not play Friday because of a lower-body injury. Nichushkin is tied for fourth in the league in scoring with 12 points (seven goals, five assists) and has a point in each of Colorado’s seven games this season. Martin Kaut replaced Nichushkin on a line with Alex Newhook and Rodrigues.
BEST RECORD: Since the start of the 2019-20 NHL season, the Avalanche are 141-55-20, the most wins, points and best points percentage in the league … Only the Tampa Bay has more playoff wins.
Devils: Host Columbus on Sunday.
Avalanche: At New York Islanders on Saturday night.
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Allan Kreda, The Associated Press