The Devils defeated the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night, 2-1, in overtime with goals by Kyle Quincey and Taylor Hall to extend their winning streak to two with five points so far on their four-game Western Conference road trip. Here's what we learned:
1) Travis Zajac can hustle. We all knew how high his compete level was and what a great defensive forward he was, but tonight we learned just how good his wheels are when he backchecked like crazy to catch up to the play and break up a 2-on-1 without even allowing a shot on goal in the process. Without that effort, Hall's OT GWG never happens. Head coach John Hynes said that play personifies what Zajac is all about and his teammates couldn't agree more as everyone who spoke to the media made sure to mention it.
2) Hall has said numerous times this season that this isn't a team that will score four or five goals a night and that they had to learn how to win these tight, low scoring games. After their second one-goal win in a row, he said he felt like that was finally starting to happen and that they were playing the way they need to play - defensively sound with quality offensive opportunities - to put them in a position to win every night and make the second half of the season more interesting in terms of the playoff race.
3) In his third NHL game, Blake Coleman was denied his first NHL goal...twice! The first one never completely crossed the goal line before the Canucks goalie's glove covered it up. The second one squeezed by him, but was overturned on a coach's challenge for being offside upon entering the zone. If you watch the replay, Hall was pressured into the zone by an opposing player a centimeter before the puck completely crossed the blue line. As I tweeted during the game, plays like that are not why this rule was implemented. It was to correct an egregious error not to be so ticky-tack about the letter of the law that the officials have to zoom in to make a decision. It should be more obvious than that and, and while I will not argue the fact that the Devils have benefitted from a ruling like this before and likely will again unless the rule is amended, there is a GM somewhere compiling examples of rules being abused and this non-goal is certainly on the list. The good news is that Coleman is doing what needs doing and putting himself in a position to score on a regular basis. It's only a matter of time before one counts.
The Devils will practice Monday in Minnesota before facing arguably the best team in the NHL right now, the Wild on Tuesday night at 8 p.m.