It took a few week but Yegor Sharangovich finally put the puck in the net, twice, and led the Devils to victory in the process.
Yegor Sharangovich used his explosive shot to break out in a big way during his rookie season last year. A relatively unknown player prior to training camp last year, the 2018 5th round pick burst onto the scene and earned 30 points (16G/14A) in 54 games as a rookie. This season, did not get off to as exciting of a start for Yegor as last year did. Last season, Yegor scored a gorgeous overtime winner in the Devils second game against Boston. Following that goal, he gave an on ice interview that made fans of every team want to root for him.
A beautiful goal followed by a wholesome interview was a great way to start his career last year. The good times kept rolling for Yegor as he kept scoring and he finished the year third on the Devils in both goals and points. Everyone expected Sharangovich to build off of his strong rookie season and hit the ground running in 2021-2022. However, that is unfortunately not what happened. Yegor got off to a slow start this year, earning only 3 assists in 13 games and being held out of the lineup as a healthy scratch on two occasions. However, Yegor finally found the net on Saturday in Tampa, twice. Hopefully, everything has turned around for Yegor and he will keep rolling from here. With the Devils trailing by one in the first, Sharangovich found open ice in front of the Lightning net, received a pass from Alexander Holtz, and ripped a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
That shot is deadly and its so nice to see it finally start to go in again for Yegor. He was not done for the game after just one goal though. With the game tied in the third period, Yegor found the net for the second time. He followed the play as Jesper Bratt rushed the puck up the ice, found a soft spot in the Lightning defense below the face off dot, took a pass out of the corner from Bratt and wired it into the net to give New Jersey their first lead of the game, a lead that they would never give up.
The Devils are a team that has struggled to score at times this season. They have scored the 20th most goals in the NHL so far, placing them firmly in the bottom half of the NHL in the game’s most important category. The Devils need all of their forwards to chip in at least a little bit offensively, especially with Jack Hughes still out with injury. Having players such as Yegor being able to contribute goals is a massive thing for this team. Even with Hughes, the Devils do not currently have anyone they can rely on to score 35 plus goals so they need a complete team effort to score enough goals to win games. Yegor finding a net is a big piece to that. If the Devils are going to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, Sharangovich needs to produce offense so it is fantastic to see finally able to do that.
Yegor also had an assist in this game. He assisted on Dawson Mercer’s goal, which shrank the Tampa Bay lead from 2 goals to one. Sharangovich took a breakout pass from Jonas Siegenthaler and raced from the Devils zone across center ice and dished a cross ice to Mercer. Mercer took the pass, sped into the zone, caught Vasilevskiy out of position, and tucked the puck into the net. Sharangovich and Siegenthaler got the assists, but Mercer showed why he was a first round pick with his speed and puck handling on this play, totally fooling one of the best goalies on the planet. New Jersey really lucked out that Mercer was still on the board when they picked at 18th overall in 2020. With 12 points in 16 games, Mercer is putting his name in early contention for the Calder trophy as the NHL’s best rookie.
Coming back from a multiple goal deficit on the road against the defending back to back Stanley Cup Champions shows that there really is no quit in this team. They always believe they can win and they never stop pushing for that next goal. That being said, this game is not won without Mackenzie Blackwood. The Lightning were the superior team in the first 40 minutes without question but Blackwood kept the game from getting out of hand. He made 31 saves on 34 shots, including a Brayden Point penalty shot in the third period and this ROBBERY of Alex Killorn on a 2 on 0 rush.
Absolutely amazing. Jaw dropping stuff from Blackwood but I’m not even sure if I should still be surprised since he seems to do something spectacular like this at least once a game. In six games so far this year, Blackwood has a save percentage over 92%. That is absolutely outstanding. Since coming back from his heel injury, Blackwood has been near flawless.
After a 0-2-1 stretch, the Devils came storming back to defeat the defending back to back cup champs. This team is different than the Devils of the past. They wont go away, they aren’t an easy game for any team in the NHL, and they will be right there at the end of the year competing for a playoff spot.
Also, there is a lot of hockey left to be played and Yegor might still score 30 goals this year. This two goal performance was not a fluke. It was just long over due. Here is a reminder of what he is capable of and why you should be rooting for him personally.
What a great player. What a great guy. I would love to see him have a 30 goal season and I still think he can do it this year. The Lightning let him get hot and now the entire NHL is going to pay the consequences for that, starting on Wednesday night in Newark against the Wild. Lets go Yegor! Lets go Devils!
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