Jesper Bratt has a goal, 3 assists, lifting Devils to 5-3 win over slow-starting Wild
Jesper Bratt had a goal and three assists and the New Jersey Devils jumped to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
Timo Meier, Alexander Holtz, Michael McLeod and Dougie Hamilton also scored for New Jersey, as the NHL's best power play scored three times.
Jack Hughes added two assists to push his league-leading total to 15. Hughes also leads the NHL with 20 points, two more than Bratt.
“Those two guys have just been dynamic. I think when you have one of them on one line and the other guy on the other line it’s a really good one-two punch,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “They’re feeding a lot off the power play, but I think 5-on-5 both guys have been able to create a lot of great opportunities.”
New Jersey Devils right wing Timo Meier (28) celebrates after his powerplay goal against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)
New Jersey (6-2-1) has scored 17 power-play goals in nine games this season. On Thursday, the Devils scored three times on six power-play chances, including two late goals as the Wild scrambled to recover.
“It’s been good, it’s been working,” Bratt said of the power play. “We’re dialed in on it, we talk a lot about it, we work on it. We want to be a power play that really changes the momentum for the team and brings a lot of energy.”
Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 shots for the Devils, who improved to 3-0 on the road this season and have won five of their last six games.
Kirill Kaprizov, Marco Rossi and Jake Middleton scored and Filip Gustavsson made 33 saves for the Wild, who are 0-3-1 in their last four.
“I think sometimes you win one game, two games, and everybody’s feeling good," Kaprizov said through an interpreter. “Now, the last couple of games, I feel we can play one period good, one period so bad — turnovers, lose pucks.”
The Devils came out strong, scoring early and late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
New Jersey’s fourth line got things started when Nathan Bastian found Holtz in the slot for a clean wrist shot that beat Gustavsson at 3:20.
The Devils doubled their lead on McLeod’s goal at 15:23. Ondrej Palat sent a pass across the goal mouth to McLeod for an easy tap-in.
Meier made it 3-0 early in the second with another tap-in on the power play.
Vanecek stopped Connor Dewar on a breakaway as a Devils power play was expiring midway through the second. But shortly after that stop, Kaprizov beat him with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle for a power play goal, cutting the Devils’ lead to 3-1.
Just over a minute into the third period, Rossi made it 3-2 when he knocked home the rebound of Matt Boldy's shot.
Boldy, Minnesota’s second-leading goal scorer last year, had just returned to action after suffering an upper body injury in the second game of the season.
Bratt scored on a one-timer on the power play at 15:36 to put New Jersey up 4-2, but less than a minute later Middleton’s tipped shot rolled through traffic and past Vanecek to cut the lead back to one.
The Wild pulled their goalie for an extra attacker with two minutes to play. But Boldy and Kaprizov took consecutive minor penalties, leading to Hamilton’s 5-on-3 goal that sealed the victory.