Devils stymie Blue Jackets, take Metro lead
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A third of a way through the season, the New Jersey Devils are perched atop the Metropolitan Division.
The Devils moved past the Columbus Blue Jackets in the standings Tuesday night with a convincing 4-1 victory at Nationwide Arena.
Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen scored second-period goals to break a tie and the Devils (16-7-4) rebounded from a 5-0 shellacking at Arizona on Saturday night, closing out a three-game road trip with a 2-1-0 record.
“I thought tonight was a good response,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We had talked to our guys about their competitive level and being strong on the puck.”
Travis Zajac scored his first goal of the season in the first period, Jesper Bratt added a third-period goal and had an assist, and Nico Hischier collected two assists for the Devils.
Hall broke a 1-1 tie at 4:47 of the second period with his ninth goal of the season before Noesen gave New Jersey a two-goal lead with his second of the season.
Noesen reached into the crease after a shot trickled behind Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with 45.1 seconds remaining in the second period just after a New Jersey power play ended.
“The way things have been going lately, we kind of got together collectively and raised our complete level,” Devils center Brian Boyle said. “Then our second period was really good and our third period was really good.”
The Blue Jackets (17-10-1) had no response. The loss was their second in a row and ended a five-game home winning streak.
“Jersey gets spanked 5-0 in their last game (and) you know they’re going to come (strong),” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “They’re a good team.”
Nick Foligno scored the Blue Jackets’ goal in the first period with assists from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Jones.
“I thought we had a good start, a good first period,” Tortorella said. “I haven’t seen it happen that often with our team, but we were outworked. They were more tenacious, and the result is what we deserve.”
Bobrovsky was in goal for each of the Blue Jackets’ back-to-back losses. He had 32 saves against New Jersey.
Cory Schneider finished with 41 saves in his 100th win for the Devils.
“They come out hard in their building and Schneids is great,” Boyle said. “We got contributions from a lot of different guys.”
Hall and Zajac were two of those guys.
Zajac’s goal at 4:24 of the first period opened the scoring and was his first point of the season. Hall added an assist to give him a team-leading 29 points this season.
Since returning from pectoral surgery, Zajac had been struggling and Hynes took him off the power play to focus on five-on-five play.
“We’re trying to help Travis get going,” Hynes said. “It was nice to get him rewarded.”
The Blue Jackets can’t seem to get their power play going. The league’s worst power play by far, with only seven goals this season, was unable to convert on six chances against the Devils. The home fans booed their efforts.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Jones said, “But we’ve kind of done it to ourselves a little bit.”
NOTES: The Devils and Blue Jackets play the second game of a home-and-home series Friday night at New Jersey. ... D Steven Santini, scratched in the past two games, replaced D Ben Lovejoy in the Devils’ lineup. ... Blue Jackets LW Sonny Milano was sent to Cleveland of the American Hockey League because of a rosters numbers issue after LW Matt Calvert returned from the injury list. Milano has five goals and 10 points in 24 games for Columbus this season. “Sonny will be back. He’s going to be part of his team,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr., the recently retired NASCAR driver, dropped the ceremonial first puck.