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NHL Hockey

Hall's overtime goal gives Devils 4-3 win over Capitals

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By TOM CANAVAN

AP Sports Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) For a game, the New Jersey Devils finally showed they could play with the Washington Capitals and beat them.

Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway 34 seconds into overtime and the Devils beat the Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night for only their second win against Washington in the last 14 games.

"That was a challenge for us tonight," Hall said. "Sometimes against teams, you get it in your head that Washington has been such a strong team for some many years that you almost respect them too much. It's about time as a group that we stop worrying about the other team and just come out and play our game."

The win pulled the surprising Devils to within four points of first place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. New Jersey, which finished last in the Eastern Conference last season, has played two fewer games.

Washington had beaten the Devils by 5-2 margins in two earlier games this season.

"The first two times we played them, we didn't play well at all," said Devils captain Andy Greene, who scored his first goal in 27 games. "They really took it to us. Obviously, we came in tonight with a little on our side with them coming off the bye week. It was important for us to set the tone of the game. We came up with some big kills. We just needed to finish it off in regulation, but it took 34 seconds later."

Sami Vatanen collected his third assist of the game on the winning goal, a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Braden Holtby.

"That angle with Hall's speed on the last one, there are so many options - you pick one and hope you get it right," said Holtby, who finished with 28 saves.

Drew Stafford and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after a six-game winless streak (0-3-3). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves and the Devils killed off all five Washington power plays.

Brett Connolly scored twice and Dmitry Orlov had a goal for the Capitals, who lost for only the second time in eight games.

"It took us a while, but considering - how many days off did we have? - getting a point on the road in this building against a team that is chasing us, we'll take that point," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "You obviously would like to have two but overall we'll take the point for sure."

Coming off a midseason break, the Capitals struggled to find their skating legs and didn't pick up their game until the third period.

Connolly eventually tied it with 3:48 left in regulation beating a screened Kinkaid after taking a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Devils had taken leads of 1-0 and 3-1 midway through the second period before Washington rallied.

Fourteen seconds after Wood scored on a breakaway to give New Jersey a two-goal lead, Orlov ripped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Kinkaid.

Greene had given the Devils a 2-1 lead 3:33 into the second period, beating Holtby in close on a counter attack.

Former Capital Marcus Johansson made a nice pass to send Stafford on a breakaway and he beat Holtby with a backhander at 8:01 of the first period. It was his second goal in three games after being a healthy scratch for seven straight.

Connolly tied it a little more than four minutes later, firing a puck into an open net after Lars Eller redirected T.J. Oshie's pass to the other side of the net.

NOTES: Vatanen played in his 300th NHL game. His three assists gave him 102 in his career. ... Hall has points in six straight (five goals, six assists) ... Washington's Tom Wilson and New Jersey's Brian Boyle had a second-period fight. ... New Jersey D Mirco Mueller, who fractured a collarbone on Nov. 13, was sent to Binghamton of the AHL for conditioning.

UP NEXT:

Capitals: Host Montreal Friday.

Devils: at Philadelphia on Saturday.

Updated January 18, 2018

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