The New Jersey Devils came into Rogers Arena in Vancouver needing a win. They had dropped the first two games of their Western Canadian road trip and were reeling. After a loss in Edmonton where captain Andy Greene basically said afterwards that the team needed to perform better, they knew they had to play a complete game against the Canucks. What they got was a victory, but one that came with a lot of whistles.
Cory Schneider made his return to Vancouver and faced the usual bevy of reporters. But he was also getting ready to try something new: a new pair of skates that look and feel more like regular player skates and allow for better lateral movement for the goaltenders. They are lighter than traditional goalie skates while still allowing for all of the protection goalies need. He switched out of them after the first period, stating to Deb Placey in the postgame show that they “just did not feel right.” He was brilliant at times in making 36 saves against a Canucks team that at times got to fire at will on him. Facing him was big Swedish netminder Jacob Markstrom, who nabbed 19 shots by the Devils.
Earlier in the evening, the Islanders lost to the Montreal Canadiens, so a win by New Jersey could move them into fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.
This game was a continuation of the Devils-Vancouver game played in New Jersey earlier this month in that there were 26 minutes total in penalties between the two teams: 11 minor penalties, plus a penalty shot, plus a double-minor to end the game. Special teams would play a huge role in this contest and would serve both teams well.
The game remained scoreless throughout the first 21:05 of the game until Mike Cammalleri scored a minute and change into the second period. It would be the first of three points on the night for Cammalleri. Cammalleri was on the ice while Kyle Palmieri came out of the corner, allowing Cammalleri to sneak into the slot and receive a pass from Palmieri, and bury it behind Markstrom. Travis Zajac had the secondary assist. The Devils led 1-0.
They would keep that lead until a minute and a half into third. The Canucks’ Daniel Sedin had gone off for hooking with five seconds left in the second, setting up a Devils power play to start the period. A Lee Stempniak shot ricocheted out to Cammalleri just inside the blueline, he slid it over to Andy Greene who fired a wrister towards net, beating Markstrom. The Devils’ fourth-ranked power play had struck again, giving New Jersey a 2-0 lead.
Vancouver looked to cut that lead in half when Radim Vrbata had a chance at a penalty shot. This came after a goalmouth scramble in which John Moore closed his hand on the puck in the crease. Schneider made the save; keeping the 2-0 Devils lead.
The power play unit looked to be going back to work when the Canucks’ Luca Sbisa was called for tripping at 6:35 of the period. Unfortunately, an ugly trend for the Devils reared its head again: they gave up a short-handed goal. After some miscommunication between Greene and Schneider on a clear into the Devils’ zone, Daniel Sedin grabbed the puck when Cory tried to send the puck up ice. He found his brother, Henrik, trailing the play and Henrik Sedin made it 2-1. There was another chance on a giveaway right after that goal, where Cory stopped Brandon Prust.
Adam Henrique would put the Devils back up by two a little more than two minutes later. Adam Larsson grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, quickly moved it to Mike Cammalleri, who skated it into the Vancouver zone and dished it to Henrique, who shot and corralled his own rebound. He put that behind Markstrom, putting the Devils up 3-1.
Schneider made another save in the third that was notable because of who was involved. Bo Horvat, the player who Vancouver selected with the pick Cory was traded for, made a nifty move around Damon Severson, passing it to Alexandre Burrows, who was stoned by Schneider.
Fittingly, the Devils ended the game on the penalty kill, when John Moore was called for a four minute double-minor for high-sticking Burrows. The call came at 18:44, meaning New Jersey would end the game killing off the power play. It was successful for the Canucks when Radim Vrbata scored with sixth-tenths of a second left. The goal counted, Horvat had the primary assist, but the game belonged to the Devils.
New Jersey had salvaged their trip out west by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. It was a wild one to say the least, but the Devils held out. Mike Cammalleri was named the game’s first star with a goal and two assists for the night. Cory Schneider was the third star.
For the Devils, they return home to play the Columbus Blue Jackets the night prior to Thanksgiving. Columbus has been up-and-down of late, losing a late-game lead to San Jose tonight. John Tortorella’s team will be coming out angry, no doubt, and the Devils need to be on their game to continue winning. They are only a point behind Pittsburgh for third place in the Metro Division and could take a big step towards moving up in this game. After Thanksgiving, they have a home-and-home against Montreal, another tough team that should put them to the test.
But for now, the Devils can revel in taking the season series from Vancouver. It is another step in the right direction for the team, not letting their losing streak get too out of hand, and something that they can take with them into the Columbus game and beyond.