NEWARK, N.J. — The biggest reason the New Jersey Devils are hanging around in the Eastern Conference postseason race is the play of goalie Cory Schneider.
Schneider made 35 saves in earning his fifth shutout of the season, and the Devils beat Pittsburgh 2-0 on March 18, sending the Penguins to their third straight loss.
“I’ve felt pretty good for a while now,” said Schneider, who has allowed two or fewer goals in 16 of his last 20 starts. “Very few are getting away from me. I feel good in net and I’m confident.
“I think my teammates are confident in me. We have that type of synergy going right now. It’s nowhere near where we want to be by any means, but it was good to beat a rival, a team that we don’t like too much, and I know they don’t like us.”
Jacob Josefson scored in the second period for the Devils, who are 9-3-2 in their last 14 games. Adam Henrique iced the game with an empty-net goal with 49 seconds to go.
“Having him play well gives us extra confidence,” Henrique said of Schneider. “We only had to score one tonight because of him. He’s been outstanding lately. We did play well defensively against one of the top guys in the league and limited their chances.”
The shutout loss was the second in three games for the Penguins, who have scored only one goal in that span. This was their second straight game without star forward Evgeni Malkin, who has a lower-body injury. .
Sidney Crosby missed the first game in that stretch after being unable to play following warmups. Devils defensemen Andy Greene and Adam Larsson limited Crosby’s ability to move on the ice.
“This is not a streak you want to run into at this time of year,” Crosby said. “The games are tight. We have to find a way. We had 35 shots. You think one might get through, but that wasn’t the case tonight. He (Schneider) did make good saves when he had to, but we could have given him more.
“We don’t want to settle for games like this. We’re guilty of getting sucked into playing their game. That’s not our style.”
Thomas Greiss made 17 saves for Pittsburgh.
Schneider was outstanding in the third period, making 13 saves with Crosby seemingly on the ice every other shift.
Schneider stopped two big point shots by defenseman Ian Cole early in the period, made a great pad save on Nick Spaling with 12 minutes to play, denied a blast by Crosby from the right circle two minutes later, and made saves through traffic on shots by Paul Martin and David Perron before the final horn.
“The frustrating part of all of this is that we’re still creating opportunities,” Martin said. “We’re just not able to finish. That’s the frustrating part. Especially since we’re missing some key guys, we needed to finish.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well. Cory played great.”
Josefson gave the Devils the lead with a little help from Michael Ryder. Defenseman Eric Gelinas sent a pass into the Penguins zone that Ryder tipped to Josefson, and the Swedish center beat Greiss from the right circle with a shot over his shoulder for his fifth goal.
Ryder, a healthy scratch in three of the Devils’ previous 22 games, earned his first point since Jan. 14 when he had a goal and an assist against the Kings. He played in his sixth game since then.
Henrique picked up a loose puck in center ice in the final minute and scored his 16th goal.
Both goalies were outstanding in the opening period. Greiss made an early pad save on Dainius Zubrus, and Schneider faced 14 shots. His best stop was a glove save on Crosby from inside the left circle. Schneider also had a big stop on a rebound attempt by Daniel Winnik late in the period.
(TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer)Source: The National Herald