The Devils (3-2-1, 7 pts) remain undefeated at home after big games from Taylor Hall and Travis Zajac, defeating the Arizona Coyotes (1-5-0, 2 pts) Tuesday night 5-3.
The Devils seemed to have the advantage from midway through the first period all the way to the end of the second period. After giving up an Arizona goal to Jordan Martinook (3), assisted by Alex Goligoski (4) and Jamie McGinn (1), the Devils replied with a tying goal from Hall, assisted by center Pavel Zacha (2).
The second period was all Devils, who had a staggering 17 shots on goal, and the scoreboard showed those results. Hall would score the tie-breaking goal 9:40 into the period, assisted by Zacha (3) and defenseman Damon Severson (3). Center Adam Henrique (1) would score his first goal of the season, assisted by center Reid Boucher (1) and right-winger Devante Smith-Pelly (1). Earlier in the first period, Henrique suffered a scare as he took an unintentional high stick to the face by teammate Boucher, leaving the game for a brief amount of time, before returning later in the period.
Now sitting on a 3-1 lead, the Devils just had to hold off the Coyotes for the remainder of the game. However, that proved to be a difficult task, in particular from Coyotes defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson, who notched two goals midway through the third period to tie the game. The 12,756 fans were in stunned silence as they watched a two goal lead disappear.
However, Zajac (2) had a solution to send “The Rock” rocking, as he would score a tie breaking goal 17:59 into the third period, assisted by Hall (1) and Severson (4). With the game now in the final minutes, Arizona pulled their goaltender to give the Coyotes an extra attacker on the ice. Zajac foiled Arizona’s plans of another comeback by scoring an empty net goal, assisted by defenseman Ben Lovejoy. The Devils continue their hot streak at home, now winning their first three games at the Prudential Center.
I thought our response later in the first period was good,” said Devils Head Coach John Hynes. “We had a very good second period, and then in the third period, it was kind of a stand set. An interesting period either way. You can look at it two ways. For us we had a lead, then we lost the lead…but we found a way to win it tonight.”
Taylor Hall continues to impress on the Devils, scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the season. The Devils were missing an offensive piece like this last season. Now that they have Hall this season, when he scores, the Devils offense begins to rejuvenate.
“It’s fun getting goals,” said Hall. “It’s always fun to score. Our power play has momentum and that’s a really good feeling out there.”
“He is dynamic,” said Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. “Every time he touches the puck, anything can happen. It’s great to have that. He’s also committed to playing both ways. He’s committed to playing defense, coming out to kill penalties, and doing what’s asked of him.”
Travis Zajac emerged as the late game hero scoring two consecutive goals in the third period, which happened to be his second and third goals of the season. Without Zajac’s heroics, who knows how the game might have gone.
“Throughout the season we’re going to have different guys contribute on different nights,” said Zajac. “For us to be a great team, we’re all going to have to contribute on the rink.”
Although goaltender Cory Schneider gave up the two goals to the Coyotes in the third period, he did have an impressive game. He saved 28 of 31 shots on goal, giving him a .903% save percentage.
“You have to deal with what’s coming at you,” said Schneider. “You’re very dependent on the team in front of you and how they play. That’s your job, it’s to read and react to them. Sometimes you can tell the momentum might be changing, but you’re going to have to step up five to ten minutes and make some saves.”
The Devils remain at home this Friday, as they play the Chicago Blackhawks (3-3-1, 7 pts) on Hockey Fights Cancer Night. The Devils hope to remain undefeated at home after this game.