NEWARK, N.J. — It didn’t take Taylor Hall long to become a fan favourite in New Jersey.
Hall scored two power-play goals in a 4:11 span in the second period in his regular-season debut with the Devils and New Jersey posted its first win, a 2-1 decision over the road-weary and penalty-plagued Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
"If you had gotten three or four it could have been better," Hall said with a big smile. "It was a fun night, from the red carpet to the starting ovation, it was a great night. As a team we really wanted to get that first win, get that off our chest. Now we can play as a team. We played a game tonight that is repeatable, and that’s the best part about it."
Having Hall step up was big as New Jersey ended a five-game losing streak against Anaheim.
It takes the pressure off him after the Devils made a big trade with Edmonton in the off-season to get him. It also allows the team to settle down after a 0-1-1 start in Florida last week.
"Obviously a big night for him (Hall)," said goaltender Cory Schneider, who had 23 saves and forced the Ducks’ Chris Wagner to lose control of the puck on a second-period penalty shot. "That’s great because when he is going, it’s good for us."
Sami Vatanen scored on a power play for Anaheim, which is 0-3-1 in its five-game trip to start the season. John Gibson made 26 saves for Ducks, who played short-handed seven times.
"We didn’t play a very disciplined game," Vatanen said. "In the second period and the third, we took way too many penalties. We killed it off pretty well. We had our chances and just couldn’t bury (them)."
Hall, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010, tied the game at 1-all, putting the rebound of a shot by Mike Cammalleri into an open net at 12:35. It came after Anaheim killed off the opening part of a two-man advantage only to see New Jersey score 5-on-4.
"Sometimes when you have wide open nets like that you can psyche yourself out," Hall said. "I wanted to make sure it went in the back of the net. It was a really good feeling."
Hall’s second goal came on a great deflection of a point shot by defenceman Damon Severson at 16:41. Gibson never had a chance.
Wagner got his penalty shot near the end of the period but lost control of the puck after making a move on Schneider.
"I tried to be aggressive," Schneider said. "Fortunately, he made one too many moves and it rolled off his stick. It was a bit of a lucky break."
Anaheim got a late power play but could not convert.
Gibson said the Ducks know it’s early, but they have to start earning some wins.
"We can’t go out there and expect to win and expect it is going to change," he said. "The league is too good. Every team is too good."
Vatanen had given Anaheim the lead at 9:03 of the first period with a shot from the right circle. The Ducks never let the Devils clear the puck out of their zone after Kyle Palmieri was called for tripping at 7:15.
New Jersey was 0 for 5 on the power play in its first two games in Florida against the Panthers and Lightning.
Devils rookie defenceman Johann Auvitu lost an apparent game-tying goal early in the second period when Reid Boucher was whistled for a high stick against defenceman Kevin Bieksa seconds before the puck went in the net.
NOTES: Devils F Sergey Kalinin (illness) is practicing again. He was placed on IR before the season. … Vatanen’s goal gave him 100 career points. … The game opened with a short fight between the Devils’ Vernon Fiddler and the Ducks’ Ryan Kesler.
DUCKS: at Philadelphia on Thursday night before heading home.
DEVILS: visit Boston Thursday night.