NEWARK, NJ (AP) — Jack Hughes stole a puck and scored early and set up two goals from Jesper Bratt to lead the New Jersey Devils past Carolina 3-0 on Sunday night to tie the Hurricanes for first place. of the Metropolitan Division.
Vitek Vanecek had 32 saves for his third shutout of the season.
New Jersey and Carolina have 94 points, though the Hurricanes have played one game less.
Pyotr Kochetkov had 20 saves for the Hurricanes, who were coming off a 4-0 loss to Las Vegas on Saturday. The back-to-back shutout losses were the first for Carolina since January 2014. The Hurricanes are scoreless in their last eight quarters.
Carolina was its own worst enemy in this instance, as two of New Jersey’s goals came on draws.
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Hughes came up quickly behind defenseman Calvin de Haan as he handled the puck at his own end, stole it, and pounced on Kochetkov before squeezing a shot between his bases for his 37th goal at 6:44 of the first period. It ended a six-game goal drought.
With the teams playing 4-on-4 just over two minutes later, Hughes led a 2-on-2 break to the Carolina winger and found Bratt behind defenseman Brett Pesce. His quick shot beat Kochetkov on the short side.
The final goal came at 4:31 of the second half. Hughes knocked down a pass on the ice from the Hurricanes’ goaltender and found Bratt on a play in which he dropped the puck into the net while he was on the ice for his 27th.
Vanecek preserved the shutout with a point-blank stop on Hurricanes leading scorer Sebastian Aho in the second period and a close stop on Jesper Fast in the third.
Devils second-year forward Dawson Mercer had his 12-game point streak snapped. … The teams split their four-game season series. … Carolina played without Andrei Svechnikov. He suffered a lower body injury on Saturday. … Devils F Erik Haula played in his 600th NHL game.
Hurricanes: Winnipeg host Tuesday night.
Devils: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game home series. The other game is Thursday.