Bratt’s point streak hits nine, Devils score seven to top Blue Jackets

NEWARK, N.J.Jesper Bratt had a goal and an assist to extend his season-opening point streak to nine games for the New Jersey Devils in a 7-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center on Sunday.

Nico Hischier had a goal and an assist, Jack Hughes had two assists, and Vitek Vanecek made 20 saves for the Devils (6-3-0), who have won three straight and six of their past seven games.

“This win shows character,” Hischier said. “We beat a great team on Friday (1-0 against the Colorado Avalanche) and then put it behind us. If we win, we can’t get too high, and if we lose, we can’t get too low. You need to have this consistency. We came out to play today, it was an all-around fun game, every line played well, and [Columbus] didn’t have much.”

Video: CBJ@NJD: Bratt buries Hughes’ pass to pad lead

Elvis Merzlikins made 46 saves for the Blue Jackets (3-7-0), who have lost three straight.

“Elvis battled right to the end, but that was pretty ugly,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “This was a tough one to watch. I own this. We’ve got to get back to the root of the problem, so it’s on me. I have to get them better prepared.”

Fabian Zetterlund gave the Devils a 1-0 lead on a snap shot from the slot at 17:10 of the first period.

Hischier made it 2-0 at 3:22 of the second period on a shot from the left face-off circle. Ryan Graves scored 33 seconds later on a slap shot from the same spot to extend the lead to 3-0.

“I want to improve as a player every year but, for me, I just want to focus on my two-way game and help the team in any way I can,” said Hischier, who led all skaters with eight shots on goal. “If not on a scoresheet, I try to help defensively.”

Video: CBJ@NJD: Hischier, Graves score 33 seconds apart

Yegor Chinakhov scored for Columbus to cut it to 3-1 at 6:39 of the second period with a snap shot from the top of the left circle.

John Marino pushed it to 4-1 with a wrist shot from the right circle at 19:38.

“We’re locked into really playing our game and just playing it shift after shift and that’s the team game,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “Everyone is tracking back and taking ice and time away. I think our defense is heavily involved and if you don’t back them up … that’s what went wrong last year a few times.”

Jonas Siegenthaler scored his first NHL power-play goal at 3:46 of the third period to make it 5-1, and Bratt scored at 12:47 for a 6-1 lead.

Bratt has four goals and 11 assists during his point streak. Only Tim Higgins (10 games, 1984-85) has recorded a longer season-opening point streak in Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts history.

“Bratt has scored a couple of nice goals and has been making some nice plays,” Ruff said. “But I think what we have to rally around is our team play, not one individual, not goaltending. Let’s just rally around our team play and keep pushing forward.”

Miles Wood scored at 14:47 for the 7-1 final.

“We want to reach something this year … that’s our goal,” Siegenthaler said. “We don’t want to sit back and be the ‘young guys’ like last year. We want to prove everybody wrong and, so far, we’ve done that. But there’s lots of hockey left and we just got to make sure we stay consistent.”

Video: CBJ@NJD: Wood powers in and backhands puck home

Johnny Gaudreau, who signed a seven-year contract with the Blue Jackets on July 13, had one shot on goal and was minus-1.

“Teams go through these things and we have a good team here,” said Gaudreau, who was born in Salem, New Jersey. “This is a low for us. We have to come together and fight through this.”

NOTES: Columbus will travel to Tampere, Finland, on Sunday night and will play the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and Saturday as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series. … The Blue Jackets went 0-for-2 on the power play and are 0-for-25 for the season. … Devils forward Ondrej Palat (lower body) will be reevaluated Monday after missing his third straight game. He will not join the Devils for their three-game road trip beginning at the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. … New Jersey honored Ken Daneyko prior to the game for his 40 seasons with the Devils (20 as a player; 20 as a broadcaster).

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