SEATTLE (AP) It took all of three NHL games for Simon Nemec to score his first goal. And it was a game-winner, no less.
Nemec scored midway through the second period, Akira Schmid made 16 of his 37 saves in the third and the New Jersey Devils beat the skidding Seattle Kraken 2-1 on Thursday night for their fifth victory in six games.
“He was able to jump in and find the lane. Great shot,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said of Nemec. "He had a couple opportunities where he was in on good offensive plays. His hockey sense, his ability to pick the right time, it’s been good.”
Nemec, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, made his debut last week at home against San Jose and had two assists in his first game. His first goal was largely due to the play made by Jesper Bratt carrying the puck after Seattle was unable to clear its defensive zone. Bratt circled behind the net and allowed Nemec to slide unmarked into the slot, where he beat Philipp Grubauer into an open side.
It was Bratt’s 19th assist of the season.
“I was really happy. I didn't look happy, but I was,” Nemec said.
Ondrej Palat scored his fourth goal late in the first period to give New Jersey the early lead. Schmid rebounded nicely after giving up five goals on 17 shots in his previous game against San Jose.
Schmid was peppered for a big chunk of the third and came up with several big stops. He robbed Jared McCann twice midway through the period, stuffed Alex Wennberg’s chance in front and watched Jordan Eberle’s backhand shot slide through the crease during a Seattle power play.
Jared McCann hit the crossbar on a 2-on-1 with 3:01 left in what was Seattle's last good look.
“There was a couple opportunities where they could have gained some momentum and he made some big saves for us,” Ruff said.
Tye Kartye scored his fifth of the season at 7:12 of the second period off a feed from Wennberg, but Seattle lost its sixth straight game. The slide is the longest for the Kraken since dropping seven straight in February 2022, midway through the franchise's first season.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of that today, not allowing anything that’s in the past or anything that’s coming in front of us affect our day or game today,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to continue doing that. And we worked hard tonight. We competed extremely hard.”
Andre Burakovsky returned for Seattle after being out since Oct. 21 with an upper-body injury, but went to the locker room with about three minutes left in the second. Burakovsky was back on the ice for the third, but played only two shifts. Hakstol said Burakovsky was unavailable for most of the period.
Grubauer made 15 saves.
“We've got to change something. I mean, obviously, we can't let this just keep going,” Wennberg said.
Ryker Evans, Seattle’s second-round pick in the 2021 draft, made his NHL debut after being called up from Coachella Valley of the AHL. He became the fourth draft pick by the Kraken to play in an NHL game, joining Matty Beniers, Shane Wright and Ryan Winterton.
Devils: Play at Calgary on Saturday.
Kraken: Will host Tampa Bay on Saturday.
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