NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — With a little more than two months left in the regular season, the New Jersey Devils have suddenly rediscovered how to play defense.

All-Star Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist for his first points since being injured in early January, Nico Daws made 27 saves and the Devils beat Seattle 3-1 on Monday night, handing the Kraken their third-straight loss.

“You look at tonight after 30 minutes we’ve given up seven shots,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “Part of that is really good puck management up ice, making sure we’re getting pucks in, pucks deep, so that when you’re defending you’re defending in the offensive zone. You’re keeping the other team in there.”

Tyler Toffoli and Dawson Mercer also scored for New Jersey, which swept the two-game season series with Seattle. The Devils have allowed one regulation goal in the last two games, losing to Carolina 1-0 on Saturday.

“We played hard and I thought it was a really good defensive game from us,” Daws said after starting for the first time in five games. “They didn’t give up a whole lot so I think that was awesome.”

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Defenseman Will Borgen scored halfway through the third period to deny Daws his first career shutout and the Devils' first of the season. Joey Daccord kept the Kraken in the game, making 34 saves.

“I thought as a group, we played well up front and maybe four lines rolling; that’s when we’re at our best,” Hughes said. “So I thought that that was a good game.”

Leading 1-0 entering the second period, Hughes and Mercer scored in the opening five minutes of the second period to give New Jersey a cushion the rest of the way.

Hughes, who sustained an upper-body injury on Jan. 5 against Chicago and missed 11 games, banked a bad-angle shot off the facemask of Daccord for a 2-0 lead at 48 seconds. Erik Haula set up the shot with a steal off the stick of Matty Beniers as he staked out of his own end.

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Mercer put the rebound of a Timo Meier shot past Daccord for his 15th goal.

“Really our execution just took us out of this hockey game for the first 35 minutes," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s really what led to most of our issues.”

Devils rookie Simon Nemec lost a goal later in the second period when a Seattle challenge was upheld because Haula interfered with Daccord in the crease on the shot.

Toffoli had the only goal in the first, scoring on a power play 21 seconds after Seattle was called for too many men on the ice. It was his team-high 22nd of the season and was set up Nico Hischier and Hughes.

The Kraken played most of the game without defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who sustained a lower body hurt in a collision with Meier in the first period. Hakstol had no update on his condition after the game.

Seattle is now 3-7-1 in its last 11 games and it is out of the playoff picture with 30 games to go.

“It’s a test for us, you know, in terms of adversity and character and how we are going to respond to it,” defenseman Jamie Oleksiak said. "And I think, it’s a good opportunity for us. So we just got to focus at one game at a time and take it from there.”


Kraken: At the Islanders on Tuesday night.

Devils: At Nashville on Tuesday.

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