Despite a hat trick by Travis Zajac, the Devils lost, 4-3, in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night at United Center. Here's what we learned:
1) The players and coaching staff have been saying all season long that when they play their game, they give themselves a chance to win every night and they've proven that over and over again. The challenge has been being able to play their game consistently throughout each game and not giving the opposition a chance to score during those lapses in play. They had an incredibly strong start on Thursday, so strong that the Blackhawks not only didn't have a shot on goal in the first 5-plus minutes, they didn't even cross the blue line into the Devils zone. But, they couldn't sustain that kind of pace, got into some penalty trouble and the Blackhawks found ways to score and get the two points.
2) Zajac has consistently been one of the Devils' best players and Thursday night it showed on the scoreboard with a goal in each period for the hat trick. He now leads the team in goals (8) and points (18).
3) In his first game back after arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Taylor Hall played just under 20 minutes, had two shots on goal, one that was blocked and four that missed the net. He also dished out three hits, blocked three shots and nearly won the game in overtime with a partial breakaway.
The Devils (10-7-6) will practice in Nashville on Friday afternoon and then faceoff against the Predators on Saturday at 2 p.m. You can watch the game on MSG+ or listen on WFAN or The One Jersey Network.