The New Jersey Devils understand their trend of winning games in overtime on power-play goals by Dougie Hamilton probably isn’t sustainable.
But it sure is exciting.
The Devils look to remain hot Thursday night when they begin a two-game Western Conference road trip by visiting the Nashville Predators.
Both teams were off Wednesday after earning wins at home on Tuesday night.
Hamilton forced overtime by scoring with 1:10 left in regulation before he tallied the game-winner in the extra session for the second straight game to lift the Devils past the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2. Tanner Jeannot scored the tiebreaking goal 5:38 into the third period to lead the Predators past the Winnipeg Jets, 2-1.
The dramatic game-winner by Hamilton continued a longer trend by the Devils, who have won three of their last four games in overtime and earned four victories after regulation during a 7-0-1 stretch dating to Jan. 7.
In addition, Hamilton’s tying goal Tuesday — when his shot glanced off Brayden McNabb’s lower leg — marked the third time in the last four games the Devils forced overtime by scoring in the final two minutes of the third period.
“We’ve got some fortunate bounces — obviously, tonight, that went off their defensemen, so you’ve got to call that lucky,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think you get control, you get the puck in the zone, you get the puck to the net, we’ve had people there.”
The Devils had the same four skaters on the ice in overtime Tuesday — Hamilton and Hughes alongside Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt — as they did Sunday, when Hamilton took a pass from Hughes and beat Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry from the left faceoff circle.
“I think we’ve been trying to use the same group and they seem to be on the same page,” Ruff said. “And when Dougie gets it, he’s been finding a way to get the puck to the net.”
The Devils entered Wednesday tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jeannot was finally rewarded for getting the puck to the net Tuesday, when he scored for the first time since Oct. 27. The left winger had 58 shots in the previous 38-plus games before collecting the rebound of a shot off the boards by Tommy Novak and putting home a wraparound.
“It feels really good — a little bit of weight lifted off the shoulders,” Jeannot said.
The win was the fourth in the last five games (4-1-0) and the second straight for the Predators. They overcame a one-goal deficit by scoring three unanswered goals in an 7 1/2-minute span of the third period in a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
The Predators are three points behind the third-place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division and three points behind the Calgary Flames in the race for the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche have a game in hand on Nashville, which has a game in hand on the Flames.
“We’re in the position where we’re continuing to fight for wins and move up in the standings,” Predators head coach John Hynes said. “And I think if we continue to build on what we’ve built the last two games, we give ourselves a really good chance.”
–Field Level Media