All-Star Jack Hughes returns, has two assists in Devils' win

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

New Jersey Devils All-Star forward Jack Hughes, who was week-to-week with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup and had two assists in a 5-2 victory over the hostPittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Devils coach Lindy Ruff confirmed Hughes' reentry on Saturday afternoon, as New Jersey prepared to wrap up a four-game road trip against its division rival. Coming off a disappointing 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues Thursday night, the Devils bounced back with a strong performance to close the road trip at 2-1-1.

"We played a real solid third period, solid 60 minutes," Ruff said.

New Jersey captain Nico Hischier had two goals and four points, and Hughes played on 21 shifts covering 17:30 time on ice in the win.

"Not my best, but you know, you miss a week or two and we had the All-Star break too, so really that's one (game) in pretty much two or three weeks," Hughes said. "That's a good start and it's a really big win for our team."

Hughes, two days after making his second All-Star Game appearance, had two goals in three points in a Devils' 5-4 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 6. He finished that game and practiced two days later but did not finish the session.

Hughes, 21, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft, has 35 goals and 69 points in 51 games this season, and he has the Devils primed to return to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

New Jersey, in the No. 2 postseason position in the Metropolitan Division, went 2-1-1 in Hughes' absence. If the season ended Saturday, the Devils would meet the rival New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference's first round.

Hughes and the Devils will play host to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.