Devils’ Sharangovich & Bratt See Scoring Streaks End in Loss to Blue Jackets

The New Jersey Devils were back in action against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night following an impressive victory on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks. They came out strong and scored their first goal of the game 54 seconds into the period on the power play. The effects of a back-to-back began to slowly creep up on head coach Lindy Ruff’s team as their opponent scored three unanswered goals, and eventually won by a final score of 4-3.

The coaching staff decided to put 21-year-old Nico Daws in goal again after a stellar performance against the Canucks. He made 27 saves on 31 shots last night and finished with a save percentage of .871. After the game, both coach Ruff and Damon Severson praised Daws for giving the team an opportunity to tie the score.

Goaltending Was Not an Issue

Inconsistent goaltending has been a reoccurring story for New Jersey this season. To echo Severson and Ruff, the play within the crease was not a concern. The Devils let this game slip away and were unable to capitalize on opportunities. After the game, Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Patrik Laine acknowledged the ice tilted in his team’s favor once they found their legs.

“We weren’t skating in the beginning,” Laine said. “They are one of the best skating teams in the league. They are a tough team to play against if you are not skating. We found our legs after that, began to get on the body. That’s how we’ve been successful the last couple of games.”

The Devils set the pace in the first period but in the second only had one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes of the middle frame. Dougie Hamilton’s penalty carried over from the first period and Severson was called for slashing 38 seconds into the period. Daws weathered the storm to allow his team to get within one goal twice but they ultimately fell short at the conclusion of 60 minutes.

Bratt and Sharangovich Played Well Despite Not Scoring

Jesper Bratt came out with his usual speed and drew the early penalty that gave his team the lead. His point streak may have come to an end, but that did not mean he wasn’t an offensive threat. He along with Hughes led the team with five shots on goal. The 5-foot-10 forward leads the team with 50 points and prior to last night’s matchup notched seven points in his last three games. Bratt began the game on the second line with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha. In an attempt to tie the game, coach Ruff moved him up to play with Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich. The change did not generate the necessary goal but did force the Blue Jackets to fight to hold onto their lead.

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Sharangovich has been an interesting player to watch since he made his debut on Jan. 14, 2021. Last season he surprised most by earning 30 points in 54 games. His rookie efforts were rewarded as he finished 10th in Calder Trophy voting. This season he was off to a slow start not scoring a goal until Nov. 20 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has since found his game and a big part of that includes having Hughes as his center. He has 19 points in his last 22 games and last night had four shots on goal and one hit. His 17:38 of ice time was fourth-best among forwards behind Hughes, Hischier, and Bratt.

Colton White Stood Out

Ahead of Monday’s game, coach Ruff stated that Ty Smith would be a healthy scratch and Colton White would draw back into the lineup. The simple reason was that White earned his opportunity. The 24-year-old got a chance to prove himself while Hamilton was out with an injury.

Colton White New Jersey Devils
Colton White, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“It was a great opportunity. Any time you do get put into the lineup it’s an opportunity,” White said. “With Dougie being out for a while, you obviously don’t want to see that, but it opened a door for me and allowed me to play a couple of consecutive games, which is good. It helped me be a little bit more confident and comfortable.”

Last night he stood out as one of the better defenders, even though he was on the ice for a Columbus goal. The London, Ontario native was the only blueliner to finish the game with a hit, and looking back at the second period, was the lone player to get a shot on Elvis Merzlikins in the first 10 minutes. Recently he has been the epitome of a player who has earned his spot. He is sound defensively and it will be difficult for the coaching staff to take him out of the lineup.

Jack Hughes Continues to Dominate

The former first-overall pick has been playing some of his best hockey recently. He is currently on an eight-game point streak collecting six goals and eight assists. Since Feb. 15, he has played alongside Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer and the trio has collected 24 points.

Coach Ruff has recently called Hughes illusive and acknowledged he has the ability to draw multiple opponents towards him. In doing so, he opens up his linemates and the result is as clear as the sky is blue. We are witnessing the Florida native slowly become one of the best in the league. The most exciting part for fans? Hughes is only 20-years-old.

Looking Ahead to the Next Game

The Devils’ next game will be Friday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It is the second meeting this season between the Metropolitan Division rivals with the Rangers winning the first contest in a shootout. It will be the first of two games this month as the Rangers will travel to Prudential Center 18 days later. Friday night will be an MSG broadcast.

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