Devils win third straight, edge Sharks behind Blackwood
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer scored second-period goals and the New Jersey Devils won their third straight game, beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 Saturday.
Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier each had an assist, while Mackenzie Blackwood made 21 saves as the Devils continue to play well after an 0-2 start.
“I love the group that we got, and the guys we brought in, and I think everyone’s grown from last year and we all got better,” Mercer said. “Obviously when you’re on a three-game winning streak, the mood in the room is happy every day. You look forward to coming in here, going on the ice with the guys, and when we go out there and perform like that, it’s obviously a fun day at the job.”
Kevin Labanc scored for the Sharks. Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen made 34 saves for the Sharks, who lost for the sixth time in regulation in seven games.
“We were just too slow,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We could have played a lot faster. We could’ve been a little more alert and we certainly could’ve been more physical.”
The Devils scored first for the fourth time in five games when Sharangovich tallied at 13:21 of the middle period. The left wing picked Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s pocket then beat Kahkonen with a back-hand shot over the left pad.
“What a great goal,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “I mean, you watch the goal, you watch the move. That’s what you want to see when you get that opportunity. They had a big turnover and we took advantage of it.”
Mercer made it 2-0 on the power play about two minutes later. He took a neat feed from Hischier, and although Kahkonen stopped his initial shot, the Devils wing stashed the rebound over the glove at 15:43.
“Nico’s a playmaker and he found me below the goal line,” Mercer said. “Lucky enough I got the rebound, (had) the chance come back to me and had another shot at it and put it away. It was a great feeling, obviously, for us.”
Mercer’s goal was the first power-play tally in 13 attempts for New Jersey, including eight straight scoreless man-advantages at home. It also was San Jose’s first power-play goal surrendered after 22 straight successful kills to start the season.
Labanc, a New York City native youth hockey in New Jersey, scored his first of the season :32 later. The forward took a stretch pass from defenseman Scott Harrington and led an odd-man rush, beating Blackwood to the stick side.
“I skated down and was thinking shot-pass and thought I may as well let this one go and went blocker-side so it felt nice to get that one,” Labanc said.
Kahkonen kept San Jose close with 18 saves in the second period, including a pair of exceptional stops on forward Miles Wood and center Jack Hughes.
“He played really well,” Quinn said of Kahkonen. ”(He) made some huge saves, in particular in the second period where we were sloppy and they had chances. He was very good; gave us a chance.”
Hischier had a goal nullified in the second period for kicking the puck in past Kahkonen.
Notes: Labanc’s goal was his first in 14 games dating to Nov. 22, 2021. … New Jersey killed both San Jose’s power plays and is now 14 for 15 (93.3 percent) on the PK. … After allowing two second-period goals, the Sharks have been outscored 16-4 in the period.
Sharks: At Philadelphia on Sunday night.
Devils: Host Washington on Monday.
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