Wood hat trick rallies Devils
CHICAGO — Andy Greene didn’t mince his words.
The defenseman characterized New Jersey’s opening 20 minutes Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks as “garbage” in a tumultuous first period that could have easily done the Devils in.
But instead, the forgettable start just proved to spur the Devils on to a momentum shift that proved to make all the difference.
Miles Wood had a hat trick and the Devils scored five straight goals — including four in the second period — to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5.
After finishing off the first period trailing by two goals, New Jersey’s second-period turnaround resulted in the Devils carrying a 6-5 lead into the third period before Wood’s third goal provided the final two-goal cushion.
“It’s a huge bounce-back,” Greene said. “We came out in the second (period) and it would have been easy for us to kind of hang on, hang on, hang on and kind of let them break us. But we came out ready to play and gave ourselves a chance.”
After Wood scored two first-period goals, the Devils (11-4-2) overwhelmed the Blackhawks with the four second-period goals. Taylor Hall’s goal with 7:45 remaining in the second gave New Jersey its first lead of the night at 5-4.
Brian Gibbons extended the advantage to two goals with 2:55 remaining in the second. Chicago (8-8-2) got within 6-5 when Patrick Kane scored on the power play with just 2.7 seconds remaining in the period.
But Wood, who also had an assist to go along with his three goals, produced his final goal early in the third period to push New Jersey’s lead back to two goals. It all came after the Devils fought back back from trailing 4-1 at one point.
“That’s just the type of character we have in here,” Wood said. “It’s fun to be around.”
Nico Hischier tied the score 4-4 when he followed up Greene’s goal earlier in the period, which inched the Devils closer to wiping out the Blackhawks’ one-time comfortable cushion. Once even, the Devils continued to push the momentum as Chicago had no answer.
“Every team has the ability to score,” Kane said. “In this league, whether you’re up a couple (of goals) or one, it’s always tough to keep that lead. But at the same time, being at home, both teams playing back-to-back, we had a great start, we should have fed off that a little bit.”
The Blackhawks led by two goals after an eventful first period. Chicago jumped out to a 4-1 lead when Tanner Kero scored on a backhand at 17:01 and just 22 seconds after defenseman Jan Rutta scored before a Chicago power play expired.
Alex DeBrincat snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:19 remaining in the first when he took a pass from Nick Schmaltz, who assisted on Chicago’s first two goals.
The Blackhawks and Devils exchanged goals before the game’s first four minutes had expired. Artem Anisimov provided Chicago with a lead just 41 seconds in when he tipped a Rutta shot. New Jersey answered with a power play goal by Wood, who had the Devils’ second goal of the night later in the period.
Wood’s offensive showcase helped to spur on the Devils, who finished the back-to-back with two victories. The result came after it appeared the sluggish first period signaled a long night ahead for New Jersey.
“That first period was garbage,” Greene said. “We made up our minds between the first and second (periods) that we would go out there and see what happens — just leave it all out there and play really hard.”
That’s all the Devils needed.
“We hate to lose,” Wood said. “We knew it was a first period and we got in here and said, ‘Let’s regroup and start scoring some goals.’ That’s what we did.”
NOTES: Devils RW Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist to reach 400 points for his career. ... C Travis Zajac remained out Sunday night despite being medically cleared to return on Saturday. Zajac has not played this season after undergoing surgery on Aug. 17 to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. ... F Marcus Johansson remains sidelined more than a week after sustaining a concussion when he went headfirst into the boards against the Edmonton Oilers. ... D Dalton Prout, R Jimmy Hayes and D Ben Lovejoy were scratched for the Devils. ... RW Alex DeBrincat’s first-period goal was his third in the last two games. ... D Jan Rutta’s goal marked the third straight game the Blackhawks have gotten a goal from a defenseman. ... D Cody Franson, RW Ryan Hartman and C Tommy Wingels were scratched for Chicago.