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Hischier, Mercer, McLeod all score twice as Devils beat Capitals

New Jersey Devils Nico Hischier (13), Jack Hughes (86), Luke Hughes (43), Jesper Bratt (63) - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Less than a minute after the Washington Capitals tied the score late in the second period, Michael McLeod delivered a hit to force a turnover and skated directly to the net.

McLeod got there, scored on a spinning backhanded shot and the New Jersey Devils regained the lead and never trailed again. They poured it on in the third period on the way to a 6-3 victory Wednesday night that showed a still young team's ability to handle adversity.

“There’s ups and downs in games, and I think sometimes we get too down,” said McLeod, who scored his second goal of the game in the third period to ice it. “Them tying it up and then us getting that goal and coming out in the third like we did, that’s what we want to see.”

McLeod was one of three two-goal scorers for the Devils, joined by Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer, who was playing his 200th consecutive game to begin his NHL career. Hischier also had an assist as the New Jersey captain put together a three-point performance on the eve of his 25th birthday.

“He had a great game,” Mercer said of Hischier. "He plays the same way every night. He’s a great captain, and he really just showed that out there.”

Nico Daws made 23 saves to pick up his second victory in two appearances since being called up last month, and the Devils won for the fourth time in five games.

They did so without forwards Timo Meier and Ondrej Palat, the latter of whom was a surprise scratch with a lower-body injury. Coach Lindy Ruff said Palat was being evaluated and would likely be unavailable for the next few games after leaving practice Tuesday.

Despite some significant absences mounting, New Jersey has found some consistency and passed Washington in the standings, moving into an Eastern Conference wild card spot.

“Everyone’s got to step up to the plate,” Mercer said. “That’s the nature of the game. It’s a hard game out there, hard fought, and it’s good for us here to step up, play the part and help our team win out there.”

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, and Connor McMichael and John Carlson also scored for the Capitals. Kuznetsov ended a 10-game point and 11-game goal-scoring drought.

Hunter Shepard allowed six goals on 26 shots in starting the second half of a back to back after Washington won at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Alex Ovechkin extended his point streak to three games with two assists, but the Capitals lost for a fifth time in six games.

“Just too many mistakes and not enough push at the end," coach Spencer Carbery said. “And you’ve got to give them credit. They’re a young, fast-skating team, so you see in that third period that really took over.”

Veteran forward Max Pacioretty made his Capitals debut, playing his first NHL game in nearly a year since re-tearing his right Achilles tendon.

“A lot of emotions, but at the end of the day, probably couldn’t get any worse than it did for me,” Pacioretty said. "Got to get better from it.”


Devils: Host Chicago on Friday.

Capitals: Host Carolina on Friday.