Hughes scores 2, lifts Devils past Blackhawks in home opener
Jack Hughes scored his second goal of the game less than a minute into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 after blowing a late two-goal lead on Friday night.
Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach forced the overtime, scoring in the final 3:53 of regulation with the Blackhawks' net empty.
Dougie Hamilton scored on his first shot as a Devil and Andreas Johnsson gave his team a 3-1 lead early in the third period. Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves for the Devils, who are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Alex DeBrincat also scored for Chicago, who are off to an 0-2 start after revamping their roster. Kevin Lankinen made 25 saves after being beaten 17 seconds by Hamilton after the opening faceoff.
Hughes got his game winner on an odd-man rush. He faked a shot in close to get Lankinen out of position and slid the puck into an open net.
Dach narrowed the margin to 3-2 with Chicago on a power play after rookie Dawson Mercer was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty at 12:49.
Dach got his goal on a rebound in close while Kubalik got his second in two games with 25.5 seconds left in regulation.
Hamilton, who signed a $63 million contract as a free agent, provided instant dividends for New Jersey. He took a pass from Pavel Zacha between the circles and ripped a shot past Lankinen.
The goal was the fastest to start a season for the Devils. The old mark was 26 seconds by Zach Parise in 2006-07.
DeBrincat tied it 51 seconds into the second period on a power play. Standing low in the left circle, he one-timed a perfect cross-ice pass by Patrick Kane past Bernier, who signed with New Jersey as a free agent.
Hughes put New Jersey ahead with 2:02 left in the period. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft collected a loose puck in the left circle, spun and beat Lankinen.
Johnsson, who missed the net on a first-period breakaway, poked a loose in the crease into the net after rookie Dawson Mercer hit the goalpost.
The Devils wore the No. 10 jersey and the Blackhawks wore No. 39 during their pregame skate to honor the late Jimmy Hayes. He died unexpectedly in August at the age of 31. He played for both the Devils and the Blackhawks. A video tribute to Hayes was shown in the first period, drawing cheers from everyone in the building. His wife, Kristen, and family members attended the game.
Chicago gave goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury the night off so he can face Pittsburgh. He started his career with the Penguins and won to Stanley Cups with them. ... The Devils were without forward Miles Wood and defensemen Ty Smith and Damon Severson, all with lower body injuries. ... The game was the first between the teams since the Blackhawks beat the Devils 2-1 on Dec. 6, 2019.