NEWARK, N.J. — Among the criticisms levelled at Taylor Hall during his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers was a perceived lack of leadership.
It's a characterization new teammate Brian Boyle doesn't buy, not after Hall scored twice and the New Jersey Devils ended the Los Angeles Kings' eight-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night.
"Hall made some great individual efforts," Boyle said. "Was a leader tonight."
Boyle, Travis Zajac and Brian Gibbons also scored for the Devils, who stopped a two-game skid. Cory Schneider made 16 saves.
"Everybody wanted to contribute and get some of that taste out of their mouth from the last two games," Boyle said. "We saw improvement in everybody and that's what we need."
The Kings were beaten for the first time since losing 3-2 in overtime to Arizona on Nov. 24. Their winning streak was the longest in the NHL this season.
It was Los Angeles' first defeat in regulation since a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Nov. 22.
"The bottom line is that they were a lot harder on pucks than we were. It's a good lesson that stings a little bit. Sometimes you need a lesson like that to get your attention," Kings coach John Stevens said. "It's a game of possession. One team was (harder) on it tonight than the other and it showed."
Jonathan Quick made 21 saves for the Kings, and Torrey Mitchell's goal with 7:56 left prevented Los Angeles from being shut out for the first time this season.
"One team was really, really hungry and one was complacent," Stevens said.
Entering the first of two regular-season matchups, Los Angeles was 4-2-2 against New Jersey since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, which the Kings won in six games over the Devils.
Zajac opened the scoring with his second goal of the season at 13:44 of the first period. New Jersey's veteran centre drove to the net and had position on Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty before deflecting Gibbons' odd-angled centring pass past Quick.
Just 2:30 later, New Jersey's lead grew to 2-0 on Hall's 10th of the season. With the Devils on a power play after Mitchell was whistled for tripping Will Butcher, Hall wired a shot from the left faceoff dot. The man-advantage goal was New Jersey's second in December. The Devils had been 1 for 17 on the power play in five games this month.
New Jersey finished this one 1 for 2 with the man advantage, and killed off all three Los Angeles power plays.
"We found our game," top draft pick Nico Hischier said. "We played 60 minutes and when we do we feel we can beat anyone in this league."
Even though the Devils already had the lead, the outcome was essentially decided in a span of 1:22 late in the second period.
Hall's second goal of the game with 4:18 left in the second pushed the advantage to 3-0. Hall slipped a backhand through Quick's legs as the Los Angeles goalie attempted a poke check. Hall had corralled a loose puck in the offensive zone, then split the Los Angeles defence pairing of Doughty and Jake Muzzin before scoring his 11th of the season.
"Hall with (a) great effort and finish," Schneider said.
Only 82 seconds later, Boyle scored his sixth of the season on a rocket from the right circle.
"That fourth goal makes it hard to come back in the third," Schneider said. "Once we got the fourth one, it was big."
Mitchell's first goal of the season cut the deficit to 4-1, but Gibbons' breakaway goal with 11 seconds left ended the scoring.
The Kings were outshot 26-17. Coming into the game, they had averaged 32 shots per game to 30 for the Devils.
"Are we happy with the effort? Absolutely not," Kings centre Anze Kopitar said. "Part of it, they're bad bounces, but the other part of it is us not making plays, being in a position we shouldn't be in."
NOTES: Hall collided with Kings defenceman Kurtis MacDermid in the third period and was evaluated by team doctors after the game, according to Devils coach John Hynes. ... Following the morning skate, Hynes announced LW Marcus Johansson would not play against the Kings due to an injury sustained in the Devils' 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Hynes also said RW Kyle Palmieri would not travel with the team to Montreal for Thursday's game. Palmieri broke his foot while blocking a shot in New Jersey's 4-3 overtime win against Minnesota on Nov. 20. He has missed 10 games. ... Devils defenceman Mirco Mueller missed his 13th straight game with a broken clavicle. ... New Jersey scratched defencemen Ben Lovejoy and Dalton Prout. ... About two hours before the game, Los Angeles announced LW Kyle Clifford was activated from injured reserve. He had missed 28 games with an upper-body injury. ... The Kings scratched D Oscar Fantenberg, C Andy Andreoff and LW Jussi Jokinen. ... The teams play again March 17 in Los Angeles.
Kings: Continue their four-game Northeast swing against the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Devils: Travel to Montreal for a game against the Canadiens on Thursday night.
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