New Jersey's Best Player Gears Up For Second-Half Playoff Push With Stellar Showing In Los Angeles

By John Schweibacher
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New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall had a goal and three assists to help lead the Metropolitan Division to victory at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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Hall was also a member of the victorious Pacific Division team last season in the first year of the current 3-on-3, four-division tournament format.

Hall’s four points were the most by a Devils player in an All-Star game. Kirk Muller had three points, including two goals, for the Wales Conference in the 1990 game in Pittsburgh, a 12-7 win over the Campbell Conference played with the traditional 5-on-5 format.

Hall is the third Devils player to go to the All-Star game in his first season with the team, joining Scott Stevens and Hector Marini. Stevens represented the Devils in 1992 in Philadelphia, after coming over from the Blues as compensation for St. Louis signing Brendan Shanahan the previous summer. Marini played in the 1983 game at Nassau Coliseum after being traded by the Islanders to New Jersey just prior to the start of that season.

The only other non “home-grown” Devils to be selected to the All-Star game were Chico Resch (1984), Phil Russell (1985), Bobby Holik (1998 and ’99) and Cory Schneider (2016).

The Devils lost their final game before the break, 5-2, to the Capitals last Thursday night at Prudential Center. Stefan Noesen, who was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks last Wednesday, scored his first goal as a Devil in the loss.

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It was the second time this season that a player scored in his first game with the Devils. P.A. Parenteau scored on Oct. 13 at Florida, two days after being claimed off waivers from the Islanders. Noesen also joined the list of players who scored a goal in their first game with New Jersey after being acquired or re-acquired during a season:

· 1/26/17: Stefan Noesen vs. WAS (1G)

· 3/3/16: Devante Smith-Pelly at NSH (1G, 1A)

· 10/31/15: Bobby Farnham vs. NYI (1G, 1A)

· 2/15/13: Alexei Ponikarovsky vs. Phi (1G)

· 1/21/12: Alexei Ponikarovsky vs. Phi (1G)

· 3/11/00: Deron Quint at Was (1G)

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· 3/23/99: Sergei Nemchinov vs. Buf (1G)

· 2/26/97: Doug Gilmour at NYI (1G, 3A)

· 3/15/96: Dave Andreychuk vs. TB (1G, 1A)

· 3/16/95: Shawn Chambers vs. Har (1G)

· 1/15/92: Troy Mallette vs. Buf (1G, 1A)

· 1/8/90: Bob Brooke vs. Wpg (1G)

· 1/14/84: Tim Higgins at Mtl (1G)

· 10/16/82: Rick Meagher at Pit (1G, 1A)

Keith Kinkaid made the start in goal for New Jersey, but was replaced by Schneider at 10:19 of the second period after allowing four goals. Kinkaid had relieved Schneider two nights earlier at the start of the second period in a loss to Los Angeles.

The last time two different Devils goalies started consecutive games and replaced one another during both was back on Dec. 28 and 31, 1996. Mike Dunham started against Anaheim and was replaced by Martin Brodeur after two periods in a 5-3 loss at the Meadowlands. Three nights later, Brodeur was lifted after the first period and Dunham took over in a 6-3 loss at Buffalo.

New Jersey lost to Los Angeles, 3-1, last Tuesday night in Newark. The Devils finished the season series 0-2-0 against the Kings, the first time they have gone winless against L.A. in a season in which the two clubs played more than once since 1997-98, when New Jersey dropped both games.

Los Angeles got goals from Anze Kopitar and Tanner Pearson in the opening 1:46 of the first period. The last time the Devils gave up two goals that early in a game was back on Dec. 2, 2010, when Brian Gionta and Lars Eller scored in the first 1:38 for Montreal in an eventual 5-1 win in New Jersey.

Plus/Minus:

Plus: On the Road Again. After starting the season 4-12-5 on the road, New Jersey has gone 6-0-1 in their last seven contests away from Prudential Center.

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Minus: Homesick: After starting the season 8-0-2 at Prudential Center, the Devils have gone 2-9-1 on home ice.