What. A. Thriller. Taylor Hall scores the overtime winner for his 11th goal of the season as the New Jersey Devils come out on top against the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in their second and final meeting this season; they sweep the season series. And as beautiful as Hall’s goal was (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it), it was only possible because of Travis Zajac’s phenomenal backcheck to break up Vancouver’s odd-man rush. Zajac passed the puck to Hall, who sprinted down the side with Damon Severson and the puck was able to find the back of the net. The entire sequence was a beauty.
Kyle Quincey scored the other goal for the Devils, his third of the season. The game almost didn’t go to overtime; Blake Coleman *technically* scored his first NHL goal but it was disallowed when a coach’s challenge found Hall to be offsides. This call could have changed the momentum of the game. His goal would have put the Devils up 2-1 in the third but they were still able to win. The Devils had a single power play tonight and failed to convert but were able to kill all three Vancouver power plays. The two teams were matched in shots at 22 apiece.
Cory Schneider stopped 21 of those 22 shots tonight against his former team and played the way we know he can. He has made amazing saves in his last several starts and continues to give the team a chance to win every night. Being able to count on both your #1 goaltender and your backup goalie can do wonders for your team’s confidence. The defense also played well and will improve significantly when Andy Greene returns to the lineup soon.
The game as a whole was slow but picked up towards the end of regulation and then overtime. I found myself switching between the game and the Packers/Cowboys game and then Steelers/Chiefs. On a similar note, I think the crowd was bored too; this is the first game I’ve watched this season in which the crowd actually did the wave. They must not have better things to do.
The slow pace probably has more to do with the team’s offense, or lack thereof. A defenseman scored tonight’s lone regulation goal and then Hall scored the overtime winner. He is now only behind P.A. Parenteau (12) for the team lead in goals with 11 and is the team’s point leader with Zajac (who had the lone assist on Hall’s goal) with 28. He is starting to find his offensive groove again and if he can have a productive second half (and the others can get going as well), this team could surprise us all.
Taylor Hall called this Western Conference road trip a “make or break” trip for the Devils and so far, they have not broken. They picked up five out of a possible six points and will face the Minnesota Wild, #1 in the Western Conference after a win against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, to look for another two. While we thought the playoffs were impossible for this team (and I’m sure many of us still do), they’re not quite out of the picture just yet, at least not on paper. If the Devils can continue to win games and pick up every single point possible and play the way they have been, there may be hope yet. Enjoy this win, Devils fans.