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Wood gets surprise from Devils to celebrate first NHL hat trick

Receives 44 caps in and around locker from teammates at practice Tuesday

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils left wing Miles Wood had a surprise waiting for him at his locker stall prior to suiting up for practice at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

Wood, who wears jersey No. 44 and scored his first NHL hat trick in a 7-5 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, had 44 Devils caps stuffed inside and around his locker. The idea to celebrate Wood's milestone night with 44 hats was a collaborative effort by the Devils marketing department and the Devils Care Foundation.

The hats will be donated to The Children's Hospital of New Jersey and The Valerie Fund Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

"I had no idea I'd be getting the hats," Wood said. "It's for a great cause, so I'm very happy."

Wood said he's not sure how the hats will be handed out, but he'd love to help if asked. 

"I'd be glad to hand out all 44 hats to the kids. If I could put a smile on their face that day, I'd 100 percent do it," Wood said. 

In addition to scoring the first hat trick for the Devils since Travis Zajac in a 4-3 overtime loss at Chicago on Dec. 1, 2016, Wood had an NHL career-high four points and seven shots on goal to help the Devils to their second straight win.

Wood, who has nine points (six goals, three assists) in 16 games, gave credit to assistant Ryan Clowe for his improved play from last season, when he had 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 60 games. 

"If you were to compare me from last year to this year I'd say it's a complete 360," Wood said. "I've worked a lot with assistant coach Ryan Clowe to help slow down my game, protect pucks and pick spots to use my speed. Don't just go 100 mph all the time, so Clowe has been great and it's been great so far."

The Devils (11-4-2), who lead the Metropolitan Division with 24 points, play at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TSN4, MSG, NHL.TV).

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