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Devils top Canadiens in 5-2 victory

Zacha nets two goals in New Jersey's Thanksgiving Eve win

by Amanda Stein @amandacstein /

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the Devils have their offensive instincts to be thankful. At home on Wednesday night, the Devils exploded for five goals against the Montreal Canadiens, including three in the second period as New Jersey topped their Eastern Conference opponents 5-2.

Nico Hischier returned to the lineup after a four-game absence, Pavel Zacha continued to find the back of the net, and the Devils improved their record to 7-1-2 at home this season.

Here are 10 takeaways from the game: 

1. Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring just 6:26 after the opening faceoff. Palmieri had the quick hands to redirect an Andy Greene point shot, deflecting the floating puck past Canadiens netminder Carey Price. The goal gave the Devils a 1-0 first period lead. With the goal, New Jersey now has at least one first period goal in nine of 10 home games this season.

Tweet from @NJDevils: Love that deflection perfection 👌 

Blake Coleman and Greene assisted on the play. Coleman now has six points in his last six games (3 goals, 3 assists).

2. With his goal, Palmieri became the 8th different player in history to score 12-plus goals in the team's opening 20 games of a season. He is the first to do so since Zach Parise (13 goals in 20 team games) in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. (Credit: @NHLStats) 

3. Coach John Hynes began to double shift Taylor Hall and Palmieri midway through the first period. The two top line forwards had to pick up the extra minutes as the Devils were down Joey Anderson, who took only three shifts in the first period before heading to the locker room and did not return. Hall played a total of 20:45, just shy of his season-high 22:01.

4. There was a reason Nico Hischier was selected first overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2017 - he rises to the occasion in big moments. The 19-year-old top line center returned from injury on Wednesday night after missing the previous four games. Hischier immediately made an impact with his reigning Hart Trophy linemate, Taylor Hall. Hall and Hischier connected for the Devils second goal of the first period to give New Jersey a 2-1 lead on Montreal with just 3:05 left in the period. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: We are thankful for @hallsy09 to @nicohischier beauties like this one.#MTLvsNJD back on @MSGNetworks right now.

5. Hall didn't stop at an assist. He took part in what was a beautiful passing play sequence between Egor Yakovlev, Marcus Johansson and Hall finishing it off with the easy snap from the slot. 

Tweet from @NHL: Holy puck movement. The @NJDevils are rolling tonight.

The Devils took a 3-1 lead on Montreal at 8:59 as Yakovlev made a no-look pass to Hall in the slot who surprised Price with his quick shot. Johansson and Yakovlev were credited with the assists. For Yakovlev, it was his first career point. 

6. There appears to be a new life in Pavel Zacha's game after his short stint with Binghamton. Zacha now has four goals in his last three games after a two-goal performance against Montreal. 

Zacha's first goal was scored two minutes after Hall made it a 3-1 game. At the 10:01 mark of the second period, Zacha connected once again with linemates Johansson and Jesper Bratt. Bratt fooled Canadiens netminder Price into thinking he would shoot, instead chipping the puck to Zacha at the left post. Zacha had the easy tap in to make it a 4-1 game for New Jersey.

7. Zacha struck again less than four minutes later to complete a three goal second period for the Devils. The Czech forward got the Devils on the board with the man advantage.

Zacha helped snap a 0-for-16 streak on the power play the Devils had been riding the last seven games.

The goal also completed his second career 2-goal game, with his last one coming over a year ago, October 11, 2017 against Toronto, and just his ninth career multi-point game.

Tweet from @NJDevils: His SECOND of the game, a @PSEGDelivers POWER PLAY GOAL,scored by #37,PAVEL ZACHA!Watch the third period of #MTLvsNJD on @MSGNetworks.

8. The Devils top six forwards had quite a night for themselves. Through just two periods, all six players had registered at least a single point. Hall, Zacha and Johansson all had two-point nights.

9. New Jersey's special teams were exactly that against Montreal: special. The power play went 1-for-1 (Zacha), while the Devils penalty killers were a perfect 2-for-2.

10. In his return to the Devils lineup, Hischier played 15:12, scored his fourth goal of the season, was a +1, and had two shots on net.

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