Hall leads Devils past Canucks
NEWARK, N.J. — Hours before the New Jersey Devils played host to the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center on Friday, forward Brian Boyle said he didn’t know how he would react if he scored a goal.
“I hope I do score a couple of goals,” Boyle said. “It’s been a while.”
He got his wish.
Boyle’s only goal of the season entering Friday came in his debut, Nov. 1 against the Canucks. He scored again versus Vancouver Friday on an emotional night for Boyle to help lead the Devils to a 3-2 victory against the Canucks.
During training camp, Boyle was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid/Myelogenous Leukemia and missed the first 10 games of the regular season.
In his NHL return following the diagnosis, Boyle scored against the Canucks. On Friday, with the Devils hosting their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness night, Boyle scored again after his wife Lauren, and children Declan and Isabella helped drop the ceremonial first-puck, for which Boyle took the faceoff.
“I’m very thankful to be able to do what I do,” Boyle said. “I’ve been given a lot of gifts, I’ve been blessed with a great life, and it’s my dream to play in this league, and I’m able to continue to do it regardless of what else happens. I’m still able to play, and I’m very, very thankful for that.”
Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, and Damon Severson also scored, while Cory Schneider made 23 saves for New Jersey.
The Canucks (11-9-3) cut their deficit to 3-2 midway through the third period on the power play. Bo Horvat took a pass from Daniel Sedin, spun around in front of the net, and flipped the puck past Schneider.
Hall got his third point of the night when the Devils (13-5-4) took a 3-1 lead late in the second period. He took a stretch pass from Nico Hischier that put him on a breakaway, and his backhand shot hit square against the post. Defenseman Damon Severson followed up his attempt though and flipped the puck into an open net.
“Damon has been very consistent since he got scratched,” Devils head coach John Hynes said. “It’s a credit to the player. Nobody likes to be scratched, but when there’s a message ... in Damon’s case in particular, he’s been very consistent.”
New Jersey retook the lead at 2-1 on Boyle’s power-play goal midway through the second period. Will Butcher skated through the Vancouver defense creating a 2-on-1, before he slid the puck over to Boyle who one-timed it inside the left post.
“He’s been an inspiration to all of us all year,” Hall said. “What he’s been through, what his family has been through, it’s really cool to see him not only playing but playing well, and really enjoying himself here. It’s cool to see, it puts a lot of things in perspective for us as hockey players.”
After Boyle skated to the bench and the goal was announced, the crowd, many of them holding lavender “I fight for” signs with Boyle’s name written on them, chanted his name.
“I’ll probably remember it for a while because this day, start-to-finish, has been pretty inspiring for me,” Boyle said. “With the people we’ve seen here, and the fan reaction, and embracing the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, and all of our teammates doing the same, the shoe is on the other foot so to speak for me, and it’s much appreciated. I’ll remember it forever.”
The Sedin twins teamed up to tie the game for Vancouver just over 200 seconds after New Jersey took a 1-0 lead. Daniel threw a puck toward the crease from behind the goal line, and it deflected off Blake Coleman, who was tying up Henrik atop the crease.
“I tried to get it to the net and the important thing is the way we crashed the net so it bounced off their guy in front, so that was good,” Daniel Sedin said.
Hall opened the scoring 2:15 into the second period when he fired under the crossbar and over the glove of Jacob Markstrom (23 saves) to put New Jersey up 1-0.
Schneider, who was originally drafted by the Canucks and then traded to New Jersey, is now 6-1-2 against his former team. He was also a teammate of Boyle’s at Boston College for three seasons.
“He’s been an important part of it on and off the ice, and with everything that has gone on the first few months here, it’s almost hard to believe,” Schneider said. “Just seeing from that first day of training camp when you heard the news, and then here we are only two-and-a-half months later, and he’s scoring goals, and playing hockey, and just something you thought would never happen.”
NOTES: Canucks D Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev each returned to the Vancouver lineup on Friday. Stecher (knee) and Tanev (thumb) had missed the past 14 and seven games, respectively. ... Devils F Marcus Johansson (concussion) skated on Thursday, and could rejoin New Jersey practice next week, according to head coach John Hynes. Johansson has missed the past 10 games. ... With the two assists, Daniel Sedin now has 998 career points.