NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Devils won their first playoff game in six years Monday night at the Prudential Center, an emotionally-charged 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of their best-of-seven first-round series. And there were heroes to be found throughout the home team’s entire lineup — from Cory Schneider, back in the starter’s net and making 34 saves, to Blake Coleman, a warrior all night who was rewarded on the score sheet with an empty net goal, to Stefan Noesen who scored the eventual game-winner at 12:55 of the third period, snapping a 2-2 tie with his first career post-season goal, and so many others in between.
Yet, as has been the case all season, there was Taylor Hall leading the way to give his team life in the series, with the Devils now trailing the Lightning two games to one, the home team winning all three games, so far.
“Taylor Hall is Taylor Hall every night,” offered Coleman in a satisfied postgame dressing room. “He’s a professional; he’s one of the best players on the ice every single night; he scores big goals; and he’s our emotional leader. He’s the reason we’re here and he’s going to be the reason we continue on (in the playoffs).”
— x – New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 17, 2018
Hall scored New Jersey’s first goal and assisted on the next two for a three-point night Monday before a pair of empty-netters made the final score look a heckuva’ lot more lopsided than the game really was. He had six shots on goal, ten shot attempts, while being double-shifted again by coach John Hynes, logging 22:45 worth of ice-time.
Appearing in his first post-season after seven years on the outside looking in, Hall has five points (2-3-5) in the first three games of this series. And on Monday, he tasted post-season victory for the first time.
“It’s not my first playoff win, it’s ours as a group,” explained Hall.
And you wonder why his coach and teammates love him? Why the fans chanted “M-V-P!” following his goal at 12:24 of the second period which tied the game, 1-1?
“He’s a tremendous leader, a tremendous teammate, first and foremost,” said Hynes. “He’s been a great player for us, too.”
Great players seize the moment when their team needs them the most. Just as Hall did the second half of the season, fairly willing the Devils to their first playoff berth since 2011-12 with a Hart Trophy-worthy surge, finishing with career-highs across the board with 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points.
On Monday, his team down 2-0 in the series, and 1-0 — and later 2-1 — on the scoreboard, Hall delivered again.
By scoring New Jersey’s first goal Monday, Hall relieved the pressure on his team and the mounting tension in the building. The look on his face during that celly spoke volumes.
“I was just really happy to score — first playoff game on home ice, got my parents in the crowd, a lot of friends watching, and it was a big goal for our group,” explained Hall.
Trailing 2-1 early in the third period, Hall calmly set up rookie Will Butcher for a 5-on-3 power play goal which again tied the game.
Then with regulation winding down and sudden death overtime looming, Hall threaded a pinpoint pass to Noesen off the rush while drawing multiple defenders towards him. Noesen buried the sweet feed, the Devils had their first lead of the entire series and that first win was a couple of empty-net goals and one major scrum away from being finalized.
— NHL (@NHL) April 17, 2018
“He’s so consistent that he does it every night, it’s not that he gets fluke points, he creates for himself and his teammates and he’s a good two-way player,” explained Marcus Johansson, who returned following a 37-game concussion-related absence to play an inspirational role in the Game 3 win himself.
“I’m really impressed by the way he’s been playing all year, not just tonight.”
Another night like this from Hall against the heavily-favored Lightning on Wednesday and the Devils could head back to Tampa with momentum in what would become a best-of-three to advance to the second round.
With Taylor Hall this year, all things are possible.
Article source: http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/news/nhl-playoffs-2018-taylor-hall-new-jersey-devils-first-postseason-victory-game-3-tampa-bay-lightning-series-review-recap-video-highlights/45trcaj092wd1m4yedscviuvh