Unlike the teams’ first game against each other, when everyone wanted to talk about the Devils’ Jack Hughes (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft) and the Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko (the No. 2 pick), conversation about the connection between those two has been placed on the back burner.
Both have 21 points (Kakko has eight goals and 13 assists; Hughes has seven goals and 14 assists). Kakko played on the fourth line, having been dropped from the third line after coach David Quinn said his play in the defensive zone had slipped of late.
Nevertheless, Quinn said Kakko and Hughes are doing just fine in their rookie seasons.
“I think they are two 18-year-olds trying to learn their way through the National Hockey League,’’ he said. “People expect these guys to come in here and score 30 goals and be first-team all-Rookie members — it just doesn’t work that way more times than not.
“I mean, you look at the guys that are competing for Rookie of the Year and they’re all 21-, 22-year-olds. The [Connor] McDavids are few and far between; the [Jack] Eichels are few and far between; the [Sidney] Crosbys are few and far between.
“And they’re both going to be fantastic players,’’ Quinn said. “They’re both going to be great players in this league. But being 18 years old and developing and learning in the National Hockey League is not an easy task.’’
Hughes played 13:25 and had a minus-1 rating and two shots on goal. He had a clean breakaway in the first minute of the third period but was foiled by Henrik Lundqvist, who had just entered the game in relief of Igor Shesterkin.
Kakko played 13:41 and also was minus-1. He did not have a shot on goal.