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Jack Hughes tallies first NHL point as Devils win rivalry matchup over Kaapo Kakko, Rangers

Jack Hughes tallies first NHL point as Devils win rivalry matchup over Kaapo Kakko, Rangers

Hughes and the Devils were finally able to break through in their first matchup against the Rangers

The inaugural Hughes-Kakko Bowl has decidedly gone in favor of Jack Hughes and the New Jersey Devils.

The first two picks of this summer's NHL Draft officially went head-to-head for the first time on Thursday night in Newark. It was a much-anticipated primetime game featuring two of the league's brightest young stars, as Hughes — the top overall pick, faced off against Rangers winger and second overall pick Kaapo Kakko.

The Devils and Hughes have struggled mightily out of the gate to start this season. The club entered Thursday's game as the only winless team in the NHL, and Hughes was still looking for his first NHL point through six games.

Not only was New Jersey able to pick up that first win with a 5-2 victory over the Rangers, but Hughes managed to chip in and pick up his first point – an assist on a second period goal scored by Miles Wood.

It wasn't exactly the prettiest point but it was a primary assist and, at this point, Hughes will take them any way he can get them. This one happened to come after the 18-year-old rookie tipped a point shot that deflected off Wood's rear end and trickled past Rangers goalie Alex Georgiev.

┃┃╱╲ in
┃╱╱╲╲ this
▔▏┗┛▕▔ we
stan Miles Wood’s 🍑
╱╱┏┳┓╭╮┏┳┓ ╲╲

— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 18, 2019

The goal doubled the Devils' lead about twelve-and-a-half minutes into the middle frame. Judging from Hughes' reaction to the goal, he's very relieved to get the monkey off his back and officially get on to the score sheet for the first time in his career.

First point of many for Jack Hughes 🙌#WeAreTheOnes

— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) October 18, 2019

It's a deserved relief for Hughes, who has started to generate opportunities over the past few games. Though he remained fruitless until Thursday night, his recent play suggested he was due.

As for Kakko, who came into the night with one goal in his first three games, he was held off the board in the Rangers' loss. His tally against the Oilers last week remains the Finnish rookie's lone point of the season so far.

Neither teenager logged a ton of ice time in the matchup, as Hughes skated for 13:17 and Kakko logged 16:13.

Of course, the game wasn't just about two players but the rookie matchup has added some extra juice in a Rangers-Devils rivalry that seems to be finding new life. Both teams have undergone something of an expedited rebuild over the last year and have added a number of major pieces in order to help them get back to being competitive. Hughes and Kakko are expected to be front-and-center for their respective side for years to come.

Not only did Thursday's game usher in a new era of star power shared between the two clubs, it also seemed to usher in a bit of new bad blood. The contest at Prudential Center was fiery, emotional and, at times, contentious. There was plenty of physicality shared between the two sides, including a somewhat controversial hit that Taylor Hall attempted to throw on Adam Fox behind the goal line.

But in the end the story of the first matchup will be the breakthrough from Hughes and the Devils — one that neither side thought would take this long.

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