Zajac scores 3, Devils dominate Blackhawks 4-2
Travis Zajac capped a three-goal first period with a goal and an assist in a 26-second span, and the New Jersey Devils embarrassed the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Friday night.
The Blackhawks' poor performance came a day after an upstate New York prosecutor decided not to bring rape charges against Chicago star forward Patrick Kane because of a lack of credible evidence following a three-month investigation.
Kane extended his goal-scoring streak to three games and his points streak to nine (6 goals, 7 assists) with a tally late in the second period that deflected off the back of Devils defenseman Damon Severson past Cory Schneider. It was meaningless.
The Devils dominated in winning for the seventh time in nine games, sending the Blackhawks to their second straight loss and ending a four-game losing streak against Chicago.
Lee Stempniak and Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist, Severson added two assists and Mike Cammalleri tallied a goal as New Jersey took a 4-0 lead in the opening 27:28. Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was on the ice for all four goals.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville pulled his goaltender with 6:41 to play and his team down three goals. It worked as Tanner Kero scored his first NHL goal with 1:26 left.
Stempniak jump-started the Devils early. He anticipated a cross-ice pass by Hjalmarsson, stole it in the right circle and skated in and beat Corey Crawford with his forehand 3:48 after the opening faceoff.
New Jersery blew things open late in the period. Zajac beat Andrew Shaw on a faceoff in the left circle and Palmieri stepped into the loose puck and ripped a shot past Crawford for his fourth goal at 17:48.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews tried to wake up his team six seconds later getting into a fight at center ice with the Devils' Adam Henrique. Toews seemingly won the fight with his height advantage, but New Jersey responded.
Zajac took a pass from Severson between the circles and had his backhander blocked by Hjalmarsson. The puck came back to the Devils center and he beat Crawford for a 3-0 lead at 18:14.
Crawford, who faced 13 shots, was replaced by Scott Darling at the start of the second period. That didn't wake up Chicago, either. Cammalleri beat the backup goaltender with a shot from the left circle after taking a cross-ice pass from Severson.
NOTES: Devils coach John Hynes challenged the referees' decision to wave off a second-period goal by Palmieri because Sergey Kalinin bumped Darling. The call stood. ... Quenneville believes RW Marian Hossa will play Sunday against Edmonton. He missed his third straight with a lower-body injury. ... Blackhawks D Michael Rozsival, who has not played this season because of a lower-body injury, is getting close to returning, Quenneville said. ... Devils F Jiri Tlusty returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury. ... Chicago is 0-5 when giving up the first goal. ... The Devils had their first sellout crowd in seven home games.
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