Taylor Hall’s two goals help Devils (1-1-1, 3 pts) win home opener against the Anaheim Ducks (0-3-1, 1 pt), 2-1 on Tuesday night.
After two games, the Devils finally open up in front of the home crowd at the Prudential Center. Things got scrappy right away as Devils’ center Vern Fiddler and Ducks center Ryan Kesler dropped the gloves, a rivalry going back to Fiddler’s days on the Arizona Coyotes. A tripping penalty by Devils winger Kyle Palmieri helped the Ducks gain the man advantage, leading to a Sami Vatanen goal (1). Vatanen’s goal was assisted by winger Corey Perry (1) and defenseman Cam Fowler (2).
In the second period, after multiple penalties, the Devils were able to get into the goal column, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The person to cause this frenzy was winger Taylor Hall, who the Devils acquired in an offseason trade with the Edmonton Oilers, in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. This was Hall’s first goal of the season, assisted by winger Mike Cammalleri (1) and center Travis Zajac (1).
Hall was not done there, as he would screen Ducks goalie John Gibson and deflect the puck to earn another power play goal 16:46 into the second period. Hall was assisted by defenseman Damon Severson (1) and Palmieri (1).
At the 16:56 mark into the third period, Devils defenseman was called for delay of game, giving the Ducks a 2:00 power play. The Devils penalty killing unit held down the proverbial fort. Not to be forgotten, Devils goaltender Cory Schneider made save after save with the Ducks threatening. The Devils would hold off the onslaught and win the game 2-1, giving them their first win of the season.
Taylor Hall scores his first two goals of the season on the power play. His first goals as a member of the Devils, as well. The Devils were a defensive minded team last season, who were in the playoff hunt until late into the season. The one thing that they were missing was a goal scorer. After this game, Hall has gotten the fan base, his teammates, and his coaches looking forward to what he can bring throughout a full season.
“Sure enough a rebound popped out right to me and the second one was a great shot by [Severson] and the perfect height to tip it in,” said Hall. “[It] sure felt good to not only score a power play goal but to get a first one.”
“I think he’s got just too much talent to go too long without scoring one and it’s obviously a big night for him,” said Schneider. “That’s great because when he’s going, it’s good for us.”
“Just his game in general has just been very good, so it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his effort,” said Devils Head Coach John Hynes.
The Devils were 2 for 7 on power plays in this game, plenty of chances. Power play is still a work in progress, but you have to imagine what it would be like once the offense fully clicks. Only three games into the season, but the Devils are still looking toward improvement.
“Sometimes special teams can affect the game and tonight was definitely the case,” said Hall. “We’ve been working on our power play a lot and it came through tonight and it was a lot of fun.”
“It was obviously a big, big difference if we didn’t score, so it was nice to see,” said Coach Hynes. “I think there’s some things we need to improve on and to adjust to…but we feel like we’ve got a lot of quality guys and we would like to see that grow and continue to get better.”
Cory Schneider was a figurative brick wall for the Devils, stopping 23 of 24 shots on goal (.958%). His play in the net was one of the main contributors to the Devils being in the playoff hunt last season. Now with a newly improved offense, Schneider will have some goal support when making saves in the net.
“Cory was fantastic,” said Coach Hynes. “I think if you look at how he managed the game when pucks were in and around the crease, he did a really good job of controlling rebounds and doing what we know he does. He just controls the net well and he doesn’t overreact to situations.”
Travis Zajac led the team in time on ice with 21:55. Center Adam Henrique and winger Devante Smith-Pelly both led the team in shots on goal with five. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy led the team in blocks with three.
Devils led the game in shots on goal (28-24) and blocks (12-10). The Ducks led the game in faceoff win percentage (52%-48%), penalties in minutes (19:00-13:00), and hits (19-16)
After this home opener, the Devils go on the road to face the Boston Bruins (2-1-0, 4 pts) in their home opener on Thursday, October 20. With their first win in the books, the Devils hope to build on this momentum.