Hall scores short-handed, Devils rally to beat Canadiens 2-1
MONTREAL (AP) — Taylor Hall couldn’t have picked a better time to get his first career short-handed goal.
Hall scored on a breakaway late in the third period to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
The 26-year-old forward came out of the penalty box after serving a penalty for too many men — in which Montreal had a 5-on-3 advantage for 51 seconds — took a a pass from Travis Zajac and beat Carey Price on the blocker side with 4:07 remaining.
“I’m not much of a short-handed threat but it’s nice to get one there,” said Hall, who extended his point streak to eight games. “Two minutes feeling shame and trying to think about what you’re going to do when you get out, and then you get a breakaway chance like that after a great kill by our guys.”
The goal was Hall’s fourth in his last three games and 37th on the season, giving him career highs in goals and points (89).
“You’re always thinking this is the time I’m going to get a breakaway out of the box,” Hall said. “Usually you go in for a defensive zone shift and you’re hemmed in for a while. Just a great kill by our 5-on-3 group.”
Nico Hischier tied the score early in the third and Keith Kinkaid stopped 25 shots in his sixth consecutive start for the Devils. New Jersey increased its lead to seven points on Florida for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Devils, vying for their first trip to the postseason since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, have three games remaining — two fewer than the Panthers.
“We’re excited about it but it’s about our game,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “You can’t get too wrapped up in those situations. We need to make sure that our focus level is our game, and where we’re going, and making sure we’re ready to continue to play.”
Daniel Carr scored for the Canadiens, who have already been eliminated from playoff contention. Carey Price finished with 30 saves while playing his 556th game with Montreal, pulling into a tie with Jacques Plante for most games by a goaltender in franchise history.
“It was a good performance from this team,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “Price was very good. We battled hard and did some good things. It was a very physical game. It’s unfortunate because we played a good game but still found a way to lose.”
Hischier tied the score 1-1 just 26 seconds into the third. With his back to the goal, the top overall pick in last June’s NHL draft, got the blade of his stick on a shot from Sami Vatanen and deflected the puck past Price for his 19th.
Hischier, the only Devils player to dress for all 79 games this season, nearly gave New Jersey the lead on two occasions in the third. He was stopped by Price on a breakaway before hitting the post a minute later.
“Every single guy in here wanted this win,” Hischier said. “A huge two points. At the end we just found a way. That’s all that matters at the end of the season, to win games.”
Both teams were playing the second game of a back-to-back series. Montreal lost 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday while New Jersey beat the New York Islanders 4-3.
Carr scored a contentious goal with 9 seconds left in the first period to get the Canadiens on the scoreboard. With Montreal on a rush on a power play, Carr took a pass from Artturi Lehkonen in the slot and fired a slap shot, glove-side on Kinkaid, in the top corner of the net.
Hynes challenged for offside on the play, but the goal stood after a review. Defenseman Mike Reilly, playing his 100th NHL game, got an assist on Carr’s fifth of the season.
NOTES: The Canadiens finished 4-8-2 this season in the second game of a back-to-back. ... Kerby Rychel, 23, recalled from Laval of the AHL on Friday, made his Montreal debut. ... There was a moment of silence before the game for former Montreal Expos and MLB star Rusty Staub, who passed away Thursday.
Devils: Host the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Canadiens: Host Winnipeg on Tuesday night.