NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Pavel Zacha is back from the minor leagues and brimming with confidence.
Zacha scored twice, Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Wednesday night.
The teams were tied 1-1 in the first period before New Jersey scored four straight goals. Zacha had two during that stretch after returning from Binghamton of the American Hockey League a week ago.
“I’m trying to focus on my game, on my skating and being hard to play against and just trying to win my puck battles and going to the net,” Zacha said. “And you see guys are finding me with great passes. … I had a lot of chances before, but now they’re going in for me.
“The confidence is a little better now (than) before I went to the AHL.”
Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier also scored for the Devils, and Keith Kinkaid stopped 24 shots to end the team’s two-game skid.
Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi scored for Montreal. Domi has a point in 11 straight games. Carey Price made 23 saves.
The line of Zacha, Marcus Johansson and Jesper Bratt is taking some needed pressure off Hall.
“That line has been a really effective line,” Hall said. “I thought in the last four, five games or so, and I think you see Pav kind of taking the puck himself and attacking on his own. He’s such a big, strong skater and that’s what he has to do.
“He should have more confidence now and should feel good with the puck, and we need a guy like him to step in and play well for the rest of the season.”
Hischier was back in the lineup after missing four games due to a thumb injury.
This was the second straight game that Price has allowed five goals. The Canadiens lost 5-4 to the Washington Capitals on Monday.
“Tonight was a game you just throw in the garbage,” Drouin said. “We let Carey down. We didn’t play well offensively or defensively. … We didn’t match their intensity, and when you don’t do that, you’re not going to win many games.”
NOTES: Devils F Joey Anderson left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. … Devils D Marco Mueller and Will Butcher played in their 100th game. … F Brian Boyle, who is back skating with the Devils, missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury. … The Devils assigned D Steve Santini to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. … Montreal F Shea Weber missed his 22nd consecutive game with a knee injury.
Canadiens: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.
Devils: Host the New York Islanders on Friday night.
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