Wood nets hat-trick as Devils beat Hawks
November 13 2017 11:41 PM
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New Jersey Devils left wing Miles Wood (No 44) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at United Center in Chicago. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports

By Andrew Gross/The Record (Hackensack, NJ)

When Devils coach John Hynes was asked before the game whether he suspected the Blackhawks might be due for a scoring breakout, he could only blurt out, “I hope not.”
Little did he know that his team, too, would have a scoring barrage, setting a season-high for goals in a 7-5 win over the Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center to start a four-game road trip as Miles Wood notched his first career hat-trick. The teams, both playing on back-to-back nights, traded four-goal periods, the Devils (11-4-2) in the second as part of a string of five unanswered goals after the Blackhawks (8-8-2) had taken a 4-1 lead in the first period.
Excluding their season-opening 10-1 win over the Penguins, the Blackhawks had been averaging 2.4 goals per game but goalie Corey Crawford came into the game second in the NHL with a 1.87 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
Both of those trends were reversed and Anton Forsberg, in net for the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime win at Carolina on Saturday night, entered to start the third period after Crawford allowed six goals on 25 shots. But Wood completed his hat trick by punching in a power-play goal at the left post to make it 7-5 at 2:21.
Keith Kinkaid allowed four goals on 17 shots in the first period but finished with 39 saves. Forsberg made 12 saves. Devils see improvement in Damon Severson’s defensive game.
The Devils played with five defensemen for the majority of the game after Mirco Mueller took a hard from John Hayden along the left boards in the Devils’ zone just 18 seconds into the game and did not return.
Mueller, skating slowly, was able to get to the bench under his own power after initially laying on the ice but was taken directly to the Devils’ room for evaluation with what the team listed as an upper-body injury.
The Devils’ comeback started with Wood, low in the slot, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead to 4-2 at 17:37 of the first period and captain Andy Greene, notching his 200th career point, completed a tic-tac-toe passing sequence started by Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen by getting to the left post to beat Crawford to make it 4-3 at 3:07 of the second period.
No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier connected on a wrist shot to tie the game at 4 at 6:52 of the second period and Taylor Hall, reaching the 400-point milestone, skated to the crease and deposited a backhander through Crawford’s pads to give the Devils a 5-4 lead at 12:15 of the second period.
Brian Gibbons, with his team-leading eighth goal, made it 6-4 at 17:05 before Patrick Kane’s power-play backhander with 2.7 seconds remaining – Brian Boyle had cross check Nick Schmaltz with 8.5 seconds to go – brought the Blackhawks within 6-5 heading into the third period.
The Devils flirted with danger in Saturday night’s 2-1 win over the visiting Panthers by often playing without much structure in their game, leaving Cory Schneider to bail out his teammates with 32 saves for the victory.
Against the more potent Blackhawks, regardless of their scoring woes, Kinkaid could not do the same. The Blackhawks took a 4-1 lead with three goals in three minutes, 20 seconds in the first period.
The blitz started with Schmaltz stripping Hall of the puck just over the Devils’ blue line, quickly turning the play the other way and then feeding a trailing Alex DeBrincat for a 2-1 lead at 13:41 with the teams skating four on four.
Defenseman Jan Rutta, with defenseman Damon Severson in the penalty box for closing his hand on the puck, connected with a blue-line shot for a power-play goal to make it 3-1 at 16:39.
Tanner Kero, just 22 seconds later, capitalized when John Moore couldn’t clear the puck from low in the slot to make it 4-1.Wood had tied the game at 1 working at the crease on the power play at 3:41 of the first period. Artem Anisimov had tipped Rutta’s blue-line shot past Kinkaid just 41 seconds into the game.



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