NEWARK, N.J. — With the New Jersey Devils sinking fast in the Eastern Conference, their top line of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier came to the rescue, as one would expect.
The Devils got the unexpected, too, in beating the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Friday night.
They got a bizarre, play-of-year type goal that featured New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen making a diving size in his own crease, a loose puck hitting a glove on the ice to set up a two-on-zero break that Hall capped with goal.
Hall had two goals and two assists, Palmieri added a goal and two assists and Hischier had a goal and an assist as the slumping Devils won for only the fourth time in the last 17 games (4-7-6).
“It’s fun to see those guys when they’re going,” Vatanen said. “I don’t think there are many guys who can stop them if they keep playing like that and creating so many chances. It’s fun to watch.”
The goal everyone enjoyed was Hall’s second of the game, which came with the Devils leading 3-1.
Keith Kinkaid made a save on a point shot by defenceman Thomas Chabot, but the rebound went to Brady Tkachuk on the edge of the crease. His backhander toward an open net was blocked by a sliding Vatanen.
“Pure desperation — it was luck and (I) saw the guy was in the back door and I just closed my eyes and dove, and luckily, it hit me,” Vatanen said.
Hischier, who was also in the crease, pushed the puck out of danger and Palmieri moved it toward the blue line. Senators forward Mark Stone briefly controlled it and lost it. The loose puck hit a glove on the ice, and Palmieri collected it and led a two-on-zero up the ice before sliding a pass to Hall, who beat Anderson for his 11th goal of the season and his second in a 72-second span.
“I couldn’t believe that it stayed out,” Hall said about Tkachuk’s shots. “I thought that they were going to go to review and it would be a goal, but just that’s what we had to do, those second and third efforts.”
Matt Duchene, who returned to the Senators lineup after missing six games with a groin injury and scored two goals, called Hall’s second on crazy.
“They had two D-men make unbelievable plays, then the puck takes a weird bounce on Stoney, hits a glove that is sitting in the middle of the ice, and they go the other way and they made a really nice play,” he said. “A very bizarre play. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that quite before.”
Hall had given New Jersey a 3-1 lead with a power-play goal 72 seconds before his second goal.
Pavel Zacha scored on a breakaway 2:03 after the opening faceoff and Palmieri stretched the lead to 2-0 at 10:54 after being set up by Hall, whose four-point night matched his best of the season.
Duchene netted a power-play goal to cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:20 of the second period, but Hall scored twice over the next three minutes to balloon the lead to three goals.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson gave up five goals on 25 shots before being replaced by Mike McKenna for the third period.
NOTES: Devils place F Marcus Johansson on injured reserve and activated F Stefan Noesen off the same list. … Chabot played in his 100th NHL game. … Ottawa was playing its first game since Monday and looked out of sorts. The Devils were playing their second in two nights and seemed quicker, especially early in the game.