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Sharks look to stop red-hot Devils

January 14, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) moves the puck against Los Angeles Kings center Rasmus Kupari (89) during the third period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils will look to continue their record success in road games when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

The Devils became the first team in NHL history to win 17 of their first 20 road games with a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. The Sharks dropped to 1-3-1 in their past five games with a 7-1 loss against visiting Edmonton on Friday.

New Jersey, which has won four straight, will face a San Jose squad that’s won a league-worst four home games, with a 4-12-6 record at SAP Center this season.

Trailing 1-0, the Devils tied the game on Tomas Tatar’s power-play goal at the 12:51 mark of the first period before Erik Haula gave New Jersey a 2-1 lead early in the second period.

After the Kings tied the game midway through the period, Nikita Okhotiuk and Ryan Graves scored to give the Devils a two-goal cushion entering the third period. Jesper Bratt’s empty-net goal with 1:04 left capped the Devils’ sixth straight win on the road.

“Especially on the road, when you can win hockey games, it’s a lot more enjoyable and a lot more fun and brings the group together,” Haula said.

Mackenzie Blackwood (11-6-3, 2.95 goals-aganst average) made 35 saves, including against Kevin Fiala’s third-period penalty shot, for New Jersey.

The Devils improved to 28-12-3, surpassing their win total from all of last season when they went 27-46-9.

“Every point counts,” Blackwood said. “Looking back at the end of a season, once you’ve gotten there, you say, ‘Oh, we should have had these two or these two.’ But you never know which game it’s going to be that can make the difference to get in, so every point, every two points matters.”

Jack Hughes, who had two assists against the Kings, has a team-high 28 goals and is second with 26 assists for 54 points, which are the most in Devils’ history through 43 games.

Bratt has 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points, two more than Nico Hischier, who has 19 goals and 22 assists. Dougie Hamilton has a team-high 27 assists to go along with 10 goals.

The Sharks are coming off their most lopsided loss of the season.

San Jose allowed two goals in the first period, three more in the second and two more in the third against Edmonton before Oskar Lindblom scored with a little less than five minutes remaining to avoid the shutout.

Kaapo Kahkonen (5-8-4, 3.87 GAA) made 34 saves for the Sharks.

“We just stunk,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “We stunk on the power play (0-for-4), we stunk on the penalty kill, we stunk 5-on-5. Our forwards stunk, our defensemen stunk. The only guy that didn’t stink was our goalie. And that hasn’t happened all year and over 82 games, something like this is going to happen. You can move past it pretty quickly.”

Erik Karlsson has a team-high 56 points on 13 goals and 43 assists, which are tops among defensemen and third-most in the league regardless of position, behind Connor McDavid’s 46 and Nikita Kucherov’s 45.

Timo Meier has a team-high 24 goals to go along with 19 assists for 43 points, four ahead of Tomas Hertl, who has 14 goals and 25 assists.

–Field Level Media

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