Jack Hughes Mishandles Penalty Shot With Season On The Line For New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils had zero room for error this season, but a loss to the Anaheim Ducks might be the final nail in the coffin. Jack Hughes had the puck on his stick with two seconds left with a chance to tie it, and he couldn't get a shot on net.

New Jersey Devils v San Jose Sharks
New Jersey Devils v San Jose Sharks / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils could not come out of their Western Conference road trip with anything less than five points. They truly need six points when facing the Kings, Sharks, and Ducks. The schedule is much harder from here on out. There are almost no cupcakes. The Ducks were one of the few cupcakes left.

The Devils threw the kitchen sink at Anaheim Ducks goaltender Lukáš Dostál. He was fantastic on Friday night. The Devils put 55 shots on net, and Dostál stopped 52 of them. Meanwhile, Nico Daws might have had his worst performance of the season. He only stopped two thirds of the shots he faced. He was pulled in the second intermission for Akira Schmid, who stopped all the shots in the third period.

Unfortunately, one of those shots didn't come at the most important opportunity. With two seconds left in the game, the Devils controlled the puck during a scramble. Then, Frank Vatrano tried to sneakily (but very obviously) knocked the net off its moorings. This is a penalty that leads to a penalty shot. With two seconds left, the Devils had a chance to win the game.

Jack Hughes already scored a goal and added two assists on the night. It made sense to give him a chance to win this game for his team. It was too important to trust anyone besides your star. This is how it went:

"Just not a good play by me," was the quote Hughes said to Amanda Stein after the game. It was clearly overthought in a moment of pressure. No matter what, someone has to tell Hughes that his number one goal was to get a shot on goal. Don't miss the net and definitely don't do what he ended up doing. Give the Devils a chance.

Now, the season might be cooked. The Devils are five points back of the Philadelphia Flyers, but the Washington Capitals are closer to them with a point ahead of New Jersey. The Devils also have a much, much harder schedule. This was the most important moment of the Devils season, and like the season, it ended with immense sadness.