Inside the rafters, high above center ice at the Prudential Center, one can find banners that read ‘Hall.’ Those of course reflect the Seton Hall University basketball program that share the facility with the Devils. On Tuesday though, there was another Hall–below the banners, making his mark inside the arena.
In front of a sold out crowd, Taylor Hall tallied both New Jersey goals as part of a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
More than just the goals, Hall provided the fans with what they only hope is a preview of more to come. From blazing speed and soft hands to scoring chances in bunches, Hall looked like a man (or Devil) possessed. It also though could be a signal that for the first time since the abrupt departure of Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils have themselves a driver of the play.
“He’s had some good looks and chances,” goaltender Cory Schneider said. “I think he knows what kind of player he is. He’s very confident in that sense and in a great way for us.”
New Jersey fell behind in the opening period after an Anaheim power play resulted in the game’s first goal from Sami Vatanen. A string of penalties for the Ducks in the second period though helped the Devils take the lead and Hall get the proverbial ‘monkey off his back,’ after being held without a point in the first two games of the season.
“It felt good not only to score a power play goal, but to get the first one,” Hall said.
For head coach John Hynes, Hall’s game has been strong to open his career as a Devil.
“In the first couple games he played real well and had some real quality chances,” Hynes said. “His game in general has been very good, so it’s nice to see him get rewarded.”
When Hall arrived to New Jersey, his reunion with Adam Henrique was something many thought would continue. On Tuesday though it was Travis Zajac who centered the left wing, adding an assist on Hall’s first goal as a Devil.
“He’s a responsible player, but his offensive skills are a bit underrated,” Hall said of his new center. “He’s a guy that sees the ice well and being a left winger playing with a right-handed shot is always a lot of fun.”
Hynes shared Hall’s sentiment of Zajac’s unheralded skill set with the puck and a history with quality players.
“When you look at Zajac’s track record with very good players…they’ve had career years when playing with him,” Hynes said. “He does everything well all the time.”
After growing up in Calgary and playing six seasons in hockey-crazed Edmonton, Hall has seen some of the league’s most boisterous fan bases, but was impressed by the strong crowd on Tuesday.
“They were awesome,” Hall said of the fans. “It was a really good experience for my first game. Hopefully they can be like that the whole year, if we give them reasons to.”
Schneider stopped 23 of Anaheim’s 24 shots–including a second period penalty shot on Chris Wagner to help the Devils record their first win on the season. The stop was Schneider’s fifth-straight on penalty shots dating back to last season.
“I’m not sure why I’m better in the game and not in the actual shootout,” Schneider joked following the victory. “You’re in the rhythm of the game..they’re key moments of the game. For me, it’s a personal challenge.”
The Devils’ next challenge will see them take on the Boston Burins on Thursday at the TD Garden, a building they have not won in since 2013.