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Hall has goal, assist in Devils return, feels 'pretty good'

Tests surgically repaired knee in first game since December

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Hall fires PPG past Lundqvist

NYR@NJD: Hall nets laser from circle for PPG

Taylor Hall collects Jack Hughes' pass on the rush and rips a shot home from the circle, doubling the Devils' lead with a power-play goal

  • 00:49 •

NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall looked like he fit right back into place in the New Jersey Devils lineup in his first game in nearly nine months.

Hall scored a power-play goal and had an assist to help the Devils defeat the New York Rangers 4-2 in a preseason game at Prudential Center on Friday. It was the left wing's first game since Dec. 23.

Hall, voted the 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP, missed the final 47 games last season with a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in February. He had 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games last season after scoring 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) in 76 games two seasons ago.

"I felt pretty good," said Hall, who played 18:08. "There wasn't a whole lot of flow to the game at certain points, but it was a lot of fun to be out there and (to) have some success right off the bat was a good feeling. It's kind of the way you'd want to draw it up if you were coming back."

Devils coach John Hynes put Hall on a line with rookie center Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri. Hynes said it looked like they had instant chemistry.

Hall had an assist on Hughes' breakaway goal 34 seconds into the first period, and Hughes set up Hall's goal, a high, far-side wrist shot off the rush from the left face-off circle at 11:55 of the first.

"You look at him play and it was like he hadn't been off that long at all," Hynes said. "He was quick, fast. His brain was working really well. His attention to detail was good. He was a threat offensively. It was nice to see that type of performance from him."

Hynes said the biggest hurdle Hall had to overcome to feel good going into the game was being confident that he could handle it physically, that his knee would hold up. Playing in two intrasquad scrimmages helped Hall get into that state of mind.

"He was a little nervous just questioning, 'Am I ready, what do you see?'" Hynes said. "Just giving him a little more reassurance that you're ready to play the game, you put the work in and another practice isn't going to do much. He felt the same way. … Now we need to build off it."

Video: Hughes, Hall score as Devils defeat Rangers, 4-2

Hall said he was sore after the game and that he has more to prove before he will feel completely comfortable.

"A lot of it is just about throwing yourself into the game and just playing and not really thinking about what you're feeling or anything like that," Hall said. "Even if you miss a game for a bruise, you're still thinking about it when you're on the bench. That's nice when you're in a game and you can just kind of forget and just go play. That was there at times tonight, but as you play more games that's what you want to feel."

But having some success, seeing the puck go off his stick and into the net, could be significant in helping Hall feel confident he can quickly get back to the player he was two seasons ago.

"Just being able to celebrate with the guys is something that you missed doing and to hear the horn go off, especially at home when you're scoring, is a great feeling," Hall said. "It's kind of tough to replicate that when you're in practice. I couldn't have drawn up a better start to the game. There were some moments I'd like to have back, but that's to be expected.

"I have a lot of confidence in what I am as a player, and just practicing with the guys, I still have it. At the same time, you just want to feel that in the game and you want to feel some bumps and some pressure."

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