The New Jersey Devils must get used to playing without superstar Jack Hughes for the upcoming week. Hughes leads the league in points, tied with Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, but sustained an upper-body injury on Friday.
Hughes crashed into the boards in the 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues and is now listed as week to week.
But in Hughes’ absence, other players have to step up for the Devils, and it’s fair to say that Vitek Vanecek did just that in the Devils’ win over the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday; their first win without Jack Hughes.
Dawson Mercer and Max Willman scored their first goals of the season, but the hero of the game, without a doubt, was Vitek Vanecek. The goalie made 32 saves, but one stood out from the rest.
This weekend, Canucks’ Thatcher Demko made a jaw-dropping save, but he got some tough completion for ”Save of the Season” from Vitek Vanecek, who made a stunning save to rob Tyler Johnson of a certain goal.
With the Devils up 2-1 in the game, Vanecek moved from left to right, sprawled his arm, and stunned fans by keeping the puck out of the net. Postgame, he was praised by the Devils coach Lindy Ruff.
“That save was one of those highlight-reel [ones],” Ruff said per NHL.com. “Should motivate your team and I thought it did. Gave us a chance right there to gain momentum and take the game away.”
It certainly did. Instead of a Blackhawks goal to tie the game, The Devils scored a 3-1 goal early in the third period, eventually winning 4-2. On social media, fans couldn’t praise Vanecek enough for his amazing save.
”A lot of these desperation saves only work because the shooter has a wide open net and fires right into the center of it. In this case, Johnson actually does well to shoot this puck to the near post and Vanecek still manages to get there with the dive. Love it,” one said.
”Crazy save,” another said.
”One of the best saves I’ve seen. Beauty,” a third added.