Things looked bleak for the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. Losing for most of the game against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, the Devils scored a game-tying goal in the third period thanks to Dawson Mercer. He scored a massive goal to make it 2-2 with under five minutes left in the game. Then, Jonas Siegenthaler had his worst flub of the season, fanning on a backhanded pass while skating backward to give the Blue Jackets basically a breakaway and the lead.
Many Devils fans thought that was the end of it for them. There was only 2:26 left in the game when Yegor Chinakhov scored his 10th goal of the season. However, one of these teams has Luke Hughes on it, and he showed why that was an advantage for the home team.
Say what you will about Dougie Hamilton, P.K. Subban, or the returning Damon Severson; the Devils haven't had a skill like this from the blueline in a generation. This is Scott Niedermaye-type stuff. Luke Hughes' stick handling, skating ability, and shot make for a lethal combination. He took the game on his stick and drove the Devils to a win.
Seeing the goal from behind might be even scarier. Hughes is flying toward the offensive zone, and it's clear from this angle he's the only option. There's a change happening, and the Devils are slow to bring him help. It doesn't matter because he's about to unleash a rocket on his opponents.
The Devils clearly made the right pick in Luke Hughes. He's a game-changer. Don't count him out in his fight for the Calder Trophy. Sure, the Michigan is cool and all, but this end-to-end goal, when considering the stakes, is so much cooler.
The Devils ended up winning the game in overtime when Timo Meier scored on a breakaway. The win puts the Devils back in a playoff position based on points percentage. It's not a reason to celebrate just yet, but it's definitely putting them in the right direction. The Devils needed a hero on Wednesday night. Hughes was quick to oblige.