Devils top Blackhawks for fourth straight win
NEWARK, N.J. — First there was the flurry by the New Jersey Devils of three goals on seven shots to chase Corey Crawford. Then there was the barrage aimed at Cory Schneider in the second period.
After Schneider’s teammates raced to a three-goal lead in the opening period, he made 21 of his 39 saves in the second period as the Devils extended their winning streak to four games with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Schneider improved to 7-1-1 in his last nine games by posting his fourth-highest save total this season. He only allowed Chicago right winger Patrick Kane’s 300th goal late in the second, doing so after making several key saves earlier in the period.
“I thought we out-competed them early,” Schneider said. “It bought us a cushion. Sometimes against teams that good, you have to weather storms and you have to survive and make sure you push back.
“So I thought we did a great job getting off (to a good start), but against them no lead’s safe sometimes and they showed why in the second. But I thought the third period we responded really well. We got back to our game, got that fourth goal, and I think that was critical.”
Among Schneider’s stops were consecutive pad saves on Kane with about 16 1/2 minutes remaining to protect the three-goal cushion.
“Schneids has been great all year,” New Jersey left winger Taylor Hall said. “Tonight, he was fantastic. He kept us in the game when it wasn’t going great. It’s been the same all year.
“You could say that after every game that Schneids has been the reason why we’re in games, the reason why we’re winning. It’s a credit to him. He works hard. He’s dedicated to his craft and nights like today you see why.”
Brian Boyle and Kyle Palmieri scored the first two goals for New Jersey, which is 4-0 on a season-high six-game homestand and 5-0-1 in its last six games.
Pavel Zacha ended a 25-goal drought to cap the opening period and Hall scored the final goal early in the third on a breakaway.
Crawford, who gave up six goals in the Blackhawks’ 7-5 home loss to the Devils last month, was lifted after allowing three goals on seven shots. Anton Forsberg made 21 saves in relief of Crawford.
The Devils opened the scoring 2:48 in by cashing in on two Blackhawks turnovers. First, Chicago defenseman Jan Rutta turned it over behind the net. Then, as the Blackhawks attempted to clear the defensive zone, Richard Panik coughed it up to Boyle.
Using Blake Coleman as a screen, Boyle floated a wrist shot from the left point over Crawford’s stick.
Palmieri scored his first goal since returning from a foot injury Monday seven seconds into a power play with 9:20 remaining. After Travis Zajac won a faceoff, Hall found Palmieri in front of the net, and he banked a wrist shot off a defender and by Crawford.
New Jersey made it 3-0 when Zacha one-timed a pass from the low slot into the vacated net for his first goal in 25 games with 6:38 remaining. Crawford committed to stopping Stefan Noesen, who skated near the red line before passing to a wide-open Zacha.
“You got to play hard,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “You got to play simple, play smart. Our first period was definitely on the wrong side of the puck, the wrong side of the races.”
Kane reached his milestone with 2:42 left in the second by putting a long wrist shot from above the right circle under Schneider’s glove, but the Blackhawks were unable to get a second goal and Hall scored 2:02 into the third.
“It looked like that could have been a big goal for us,” Kane said. “We had things going on there in the second. We had chances. We had opportunities. When you get one and you’re down two, maybe the comeback is on. It’s unfortunate it didn’t happen that way.”
NOTES: RW Patrick Kane became the fifth Blackhawks player to get 300 goals with the team. He joined Bobby Hull (604), Stan Mikita (541), Steve Larmer (406) and Denis Savard (377). ... Chicago LW Patrick Sharp returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s 4-0 loss at Dallas. Sharp has three goals in 33 games this season but one in his last 27 contests. ... New Jersey rookie LW Jesper Bratt returned after missing Thursday’s win over the New York Rangers with a foot injury. He was stopped by G Anton Forsberg on a penalty shot with 7:24 left in the third period.