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Larsson's OT goal lifts Devils past Coyotes

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Adam Larsson scored his first goal of the season 43 seconds into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

Larsson turned a transition off a turnover in the Devils' end into a 3-on-1 in the opposite direction. After knocking Martin Hanzal off the puck at the Devils blue line, Larsson skated down his left wing with Lee Stempniak and Travis Zajac. He eventually got a return pass from Zajac and knocked a shot past goaltender Mike Smith at the left post.

"I made a terrible pass to [Stempniak] but was lucky it didn't bounce over his stick or else it would have been a 3-on-0 the other way," Larsson said. "Travis made a real good pass to me."

Zajac and Mike Cammalleri also scored for the Devils. Zajac, who finished with a goal and two assists, had his first game with three or more points since he had three goals and an assist against the Florida Panthers on March 31, 2014. Zajac also won 17 of 25 faceoffs (68 percent).

"It's nice to see him get rewarded because he does so many things on a nightly basis that doesn't show up on the scoresheet," Devils coach John Hynes said.

Zajac liked the way the Devils came out in the opening two periods, when they outshot the Coyotes 17-12.

"We came out attacking in the first two periods," Zajac said. "We got into penalty-killing trouble in the third but battled through it and got a win. We're a team that's going to need different guys contributing on different nights and we're going to have to win collectively as a group so it's just nice to contribute."

Zajac said he believes the Devils are beginning to get into a rhythm with the approach and style Hynes has been instructing since training camp.

"I think you're seeing us use our speed a lot more," Zajac said. "Our defensemen are moving the puck quick, and the forwards are using their speed and jumping into the play for good opportunities."

Anthony Duclair and Mikkel Boedker had third-period goals for the Coyotes. Boedker pulled the Coyotes into a 2-2 tie when his shot from the left circle deflected off the leg of Devils defenseman David Schlemko and past goaltender Cory Schneider with 50.9 seconds remaining in the third period and goalie Mike Smith pulled for an extra attacker. It was Boedker's first goal of the season.

"He needed a goal," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a big goal for us.

"The overtime goal [by New Jersey] was poor execution up the ice by us."

Schneider, who made 26 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory at the New York Rangers on Sunday, made 18 against the Coyotes. Smith made 22 saves.

"As the game went on, the guys got a little bit better," Smith said. "We have some areas we want to clean up and be harder to play against. You saw [Tuesday] that if somebody blows a wheel or turns the puck over, it's an opportunity the other way in overtime.

"The urgency, I feel, hasn't been there."

The victory was the second straight for New Jersey (2-3-1). The Coyotes (3-3-0), playing the opener of a five-game East Coast road trip, have lost three straight.

"We probably played our most complete game, and we felt we deserved the win so we'll keep building on this," Zajac said. "We can't be satisfied and have to keep this thing going in the right direction and stay hungry."

Cammalleri, who had a career-high eight shots on goal, gave the Devils a 2-1 lead at 7:09 of the third period. He took a drop pass from Zajac and fired a wrist shot from the high slot over the left shoulder of Smith.

"I guess the analytics guys would say one would have to go in," Cammalleri said of his eight-shot night. "Shots are good. That means we're playing at the right end of the rink."

Schneider made a tremendous left-pad save against Boedker less than two minutes before Cammalleri's goal when Arizona had a 5-on-3 power play.

"He's been phenomenal for us all year," Larsson said of Schneider. "I think we should thank him more for the good job he does back there. He has such a calm demeanor and it kind of affects us too."

Duclair pulled the Coyotes into a 1-1 tie 47 seconds into the third with a power-play goal. He took a pass from fellow rookie Max Domi at the right hash and beat Schneider with a backhand. Duclair leads all rookies with five goals, and the Coyotes have nine goals by rookies, the most of any NHL team.

Zajac gave the Devils a 1-0 lead by scoring a shorthanded goal with 27 seconds remaining in the second. With Kyle Palmieri serving an interference penalty, Zajac took a pass from Jacob Josefson down the slot and beat Smith with a backhand to give the Devils their first lead of the season. The shorthanded goal was the fourth allowed by the Coyotes this season.

"One of the things we didn't have in the first few games was elevated performances by real important guys to our team who are supposed to be leaders," Hynes said. "I'd say in the past three games players have stepped up and become difference-makers, and when we've gone through adversity, we've stuck to the game plan and done well."

The Coyotes barely missed scoring the game's first goal with 1:38 remaining in the second when Schneider stopped a shot by Antoine Vermette from the right circle and then, while falling backward, denied Shane Doan on the rebound. Doan was playing in his 1,400th career NHL game. He is the 34th player in League history to play as many games and is seven shy of tying Dale Hunter (1,407).

"Goaltending for us is a non-issue, which is very comforting," Cammalleri said.

The Coyotes, who have gotten off to slow starts, didn't have a shot on goal until 1:54 remained in the first period when Jordan Martinook attempted a backhand in the slot. The Devils outshot the Coyotes 5-2 in a tight-checking period.

"It's never fun to be patient in a hockey game," Boedker said. "You want to play with the lead. When we didn't have a shot [until] 18 minutes in, that's tough. They stood tight in the neutral zone and have a good set up there. We have to maneuver through, and that's a lot of credit to them in the neutral zone.

The Devils play at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. The Coyotes continue their trip against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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