Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, improving the team’s road record to 15-5-1, the second-best points percentage in the league away from home.
On the team’s performance:
I really liked our first and I really liked our third. Obviously, in the second period, we didn’t take care of the puck and we didn’t play right. But in the third, I thought we came out and played really well. We played in the offensive zone. We took care of the puck. We gave up very little. We got a good win.
On the impact of Zach Hyman in his return and the play of the Hyman – Tavares – Marner line:
They were plus four. He was involved in three goals there. Heavy down low. It just goes to show you that you need people to win the puck back. He was able to do that for us. It was good for Tavares. 300 goals is a lot of goals in the national league. That line was good for us tonight.
On the convincing way the team closed out the win up 3-2 in the third period:
I liked that in the third period, we didn’t back up and play in our own zone. I thought we played the game in the offensive zone and still had the puck and took care of it. We didn’t give up much. I thought the first period was like that, too. It was just the second period that got away from us.
On why the team has been able to be so successful on the road (15-5-1):
I don’t know the answer to that. We think we’ve got a good team. We don’t think it much matters whether we’re at home or on the road. We’ve had real good wins in both spots. Tonight was a good win for us, like I said.
On the team’s ability to sustain zone time, especially as the game wound down while protecting the lead:
I really liked our heavy play. I liked our play below the goal line. Our D were allowed to shoot the puck. To me, tonight was a real good night for us. We’ve got a real good game coming up against a real good team. It’ll be fun.
Player Reactions: Zach Hyman, John Tavares, Ron Hainsey
Hyman on his return to the lineup:
It’s good to be back. I was excited to come back. It felt good in the first period. I thought I had my legs. It was a good team win. I’m happy we got it done.
Hyman on the success of his line:
I just try to get them the puck as much as I can. John is pretty tenacious on it and you can see how strong he is. He gets it back all the time. And he is one of the best finishers around the net in the league. He can really score. Mitch is an elite passer but he can also get himself open to shoot. You’re seeing more of that this year. It’s really fun playing with those guys. I think we’ve got a lot of chemistry and we’re just building off of it. It was nice to come back and be with them.
John Tavares on scoring goal #300:
It’s always that much more satisfying when it contributes in a big win, especially bouncing back after the other night. I think it’s a credit to a lot of the guys I played with over my career. They’re a big part of making me successful. I’m just trying to be consistent as long as I’ve been in the league, and I don’t want to stop there.
Tavares on the return of Hyman to his line:
I think all night you see his contributions on the penalty kill, certainly on the forecheck. Just so much trust in him winning battles and 50-50 pucks — how good he is at coming out of those and just putting pressure on the opponent. He just makes things happen with that. So predictable that way and so consistent on a nightly basis. Definitely great to have him back. I’m fortunate to be playing with him.
Ron Hainsey on the way the team closed out the game:
The whole period in general — we generated some good chances. I think we won a lot of draws in their zone, so we got some shots. They weren’t the greatest chances, but we had a lot of zone time. When they did get the puck, because we were in there so much, it felt like we were able to keep them in there. They didn’t have much for legs after that because we had them in the zone. Therefore, they really weren’t in our zone much. We stayed out of the box, so that certainly helped.