Pavel Zacha scored the decisive goal in the sixth round of the shootout Saturday afternoon for the New Jersey Devils, who edged the visiting Arizona Coyotes 2-1 in a game with Western Conference wild-card implications in Newark, N.J.
After neither team scored in the first four rounds of the shootout, the Devils’ Blake Coleman and the Coyotes’ Conor Garland traded goals in the fifth round. Zacha then fired a shot between Darcy Kuemper’s legs for his first career shootout goal and New Jersey locked up the victory when Richard Panik’s shot rang off the post.
Drew Stafford scored in the first period for the Devils, who snapped a three-game losing streak, Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood recorded 24 saves.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the first period and Kuemper made 31 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth straight game and missed a chance to at least temporarily move into the second wild-card spot in the West.
The Coyotes are tied with the Minnesota Wild at 79 points, but the Wild have two more regulation/overtime wins (34) than Arizona, which could lose more ground in the race later Saturday when the Wild plays the Carolina Hurricanes and the Colorado Avalanche play the Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche entered Saturday with 78 points.
The Coyotes jumped out to a quick lead following a chaotic sequence in the Devils’ zone. Garland’s slap shot was deflected by Blackwood and the puck skittered out of the crease before Arizona center Alex Galchenyuk corralled it and dished to Ekman-Larsson. The defenseman skated back toward the blue line and shuffled the puck for a couple seconds while Galchenyuk moved into position to screen Blackwood. With Galchenyuk and Devils center Travis Zajac crossing in front of Blackwood, Ekman-Larsson fired a shot that sailed past the goalie at the 2:31 mark.
The Devils tied it late in the first following a turnover by the Coyotes. New Jersey left winger Miles Wood picked off a clearing pass in the neutral zone and passed to Zacha, who immediately drop passed the puck to Stafford. The right winger wound up and fired a slap shot that sailed past Arizona defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson before it trickled beyond Kuemper with 2:59 remaining.
—Field Level Media